These are tasks that tend to have high consequences (e.g., rock climbing or public speaking), clear feedback, and take place in a varied environment.
When you are experiencing flow, it seems like the task at hand is almost performing itself.
But there's still a sense of personal control over it, and working on it feels very rewarding.
We experience the "flow state" when a given task becomes effortless and time slips by without our noticing. It's an absorbing, intrinsically rewarding state that we enter when performing certain tasks.
When in the flow state we experience mindfulness and actions and awareness merge, so that it seems like the task is almost performing itself. Despite this, there's still a sense of personal control over the task at hand, and performing it feels intrinsically rewarding.
Arguably, the most important criteria in the pursuit of flow is to pick intrinsically rewarding tasks that have high consequences (e.g., rock climbing or public speaking), clear feedback, and take place in a rich and varied environment (so not your office cubicle).
When starting a project that requires time, energy and resources, the cost-benefit ratio is a good rule for deciding if the plunge is worth it.
One has to think about the risk in terms of probability, while also keeping in mind what is at stake: Will the effort, time, money and resources that are spent will go down the drain or will all of it still provide value in case the primary goal is not reached.
Taking risks is a way towards potential growth, even if it is not according to the original plan.
When entrepreneurs fail at their startup, a large chunk of them still benefit by:
One needs to take into consideration that any risky decision has the probability of failure, keeping in mind the potential benefits of not reaching the goal.
The ideal decision model should:
The world is full of evidence and studies, some good and some poor.
A hypothesis is often the first step of the scientific method. It is a proposed and still-unproven explanation that can be tested through experiments and observations.
In science, a theory is a widely accepted idea backed by data, observations, and experiments. Of course, established scientific theories can later be changed or rejected if there's enough data to support it.
Studies can suffer from selection bias when people are recruited from a specific group that are not representative of the whole. Scientists select a smaller group to study, but the chosen set isn't random enough and is therefore somehow biased in favor of a specific outcome of the study.
Selection bias can also occur when certain types of people are more likely to want to be involved or are more committed to staying in a longer experiment.
If you are looking at a clinical trial, a psychology study, or an animal study, it must be a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study.
In science, "statistically significant" is the effect that can be picked up with a particular statistical tool called a p-value. A good p-value (or calculated probability) is arbitrary and can vary between scientific fields. The cut-off for statistically significant is a p-value of 0.05.
One problem is that if you run a study multiple times or do a whole bunch of different statistical analyses on the same data, your results could look meaningful purely by chance.
One type of conflict of interest is financial. It could be someone who received funding from a company with a vested interest in the study's outcome. Or that person has a relationship with the company that could lead to benefits in the future.
A recent analysis found that from 7 to 32 percent of randomized trials in top medical journals were funded by medical industry sources.
In a peer review system, independent, anonymous experts read over a paper submitted to a journal. They can recommend revisions to the text, new experiments that should be added, or even that the journal shouldn't publish the paper.
But reviewers aren't asked to ensure that the results are absolutely correct. It would be too time-consuming and impractical. That means that a peer review is mostly beneficial, but not perfect.
It’s tempting to think that all the good ideas must be taken by now and that there is no possible way to make any new positive contribution.
However, the story of every good idea, every new project, every novel starts with: There was a bad idea. And then there was a better one.
Bad ideas are not your enemy. They are essential steps to better ideas.
Focus on making something worth sharing. How small can you make it and still do something you're proud of? Could you play just one note on the clarinet that's worth listening to?
There is a community of critics and tweakers and tinkerers that are ready to criticize the logo your agency put together. What is scarce are the people willing to make the logo themselves.
Here is then a clue about what to do next: Go first. After you have done the scary bits, you can easily get help from the people who are good at smoothing out the rough places with their critiques.
We all seek out "good" or even "great". But we need to define what good is before we begin. Twelve publishers rejected Harry Potter, but then it became a worldwide phenomenon and was suddenly good enough.
Judge your work by asking what it is for and who it is for. If it achieves its mission, then it is good.
This is not your one and only chance. You won't run out of ideas.
There is no perfect idea, just the next thing you haven't discovered yet. No one is keeping you from posting a video or blogging every day, or hanging up your artwork. You have to do the steps.
Physical and mental distance influence the way you think about things. Distance engages the thinking system.
Your workplace environment is strongly associated with getting things done. In order to engage a thinking mindset, spend time working in another place. Change your environment, and you will change the way you think.
The modern workplace revolves around sitting.
The seated posture reinforces the activation of a thinking mindset.
If you need to jumpstart your doing mindset, get moving. Stand up. Walk around your workspace. By getting up and moving, you get into a converging, action-oriented mode on.
The proximity of a deadline can also activate different systems: the closer the deadline, the more your “doing” mindset is activated.
Change your deadlines to get into convergence, the doing mindset.
In a perfect world, we would use both success and failure as instructive lessons. But our brain doesn't learn that way. It learns more from some experiences than others.
Confirmation bias makes us prefer outcomes that we agree with, and a positivity bias causes us to focus on rewards more than punishments. New studies get to the bottom of these biases to find a role for choice.
A study found that choice had an apparent influence on decision-making. In the studies subjects learned more when they had a free choice and when the choice gave a higher reward.
However, when participants were forced to select a specific choice, they were less invested in the outcomes, similar to a child mindlessly practicing to please a parent.
When people can make a free choice, they embrace positive or negative outcomes that confirm they were right.
Studies show that this tendency persists in both poor and rich conditions. This means the brain is primed to learn with a bias linked to our freely chosen actions. The brain learns differently and more quickly from free choices than forced ones.
An individual's perception of control in a situation influences how they learn from their experiences.
This is a useful mechanism for teaching us about the world that unbiased learning cannot do. It could also explain delusional thinking, where it is difficult to sway someone from a false belief with contrary evidence
Parents have more power and choices in educating their children than they realize.
Many parents are concerned about the changing world and uncertain futures their children face. They are anxious about education, a narrow curriculum, that schools are not cultivating curiosity. They worry about their children being medicated for "learning problems." However, many educators share the same concerns and are campaigning for change.
Parents have three options:
Governments are desperately trying to improve education using strategies such as standardization, testing, and competition, especially in literacy, mathematics, and science. But it is generally not successful.
Finland is following a different path. They don't have a mandated curriculum; they encourage a broad curriculum and seldom do standardized testing. Consequently, they are more successful in education.
Eight out of ten teenagers experience extreme stress during the school year. Parents can help in three ways:
The endless testing was an attempt to raise standards in education. Instead, it resulted in a culture of perpetual competition, causing excessive stress for teachers, children, and their families but with no real improvement in standards.
The purpose of assessments is to support and improve student learning. However, there are much better ways to accomplish this than through countless tests.
Charter schools are independently operated public schools. They have a bigger say in what they teach and how they work.
It is said that charter schools can spread new practices. Some do, and some don't. Another argument is that they give parents more choice in education. But the choice may be apparent and not real.
The purpose of education is to enable students to understand the world and the talents within them so they can become fulfilled individuals and active, compassionate citizens.
The role of the government should be to create the best conditions to encourage such an education. Some ways include adopting a broad and balanced curriculum and developing guidelines and resources to support it.
The Goal Gradient hypothesis states that we push harder or are motivated to exert more by the fact that the goal is almost within reach.
The knowledge that the desired outcome or reward is almost attained is a ‘pull factor’ in our effort.
Marketers use this to nudge us towards buying a certain product or service, providing us with a goal that is almost within our grasp.
Example: When enrolled in a buy ten get one free coffee program, the person who has just one coffee to complete ten, is motivated to buy it as the free coffee is now imminent.
Studies show that if a person is offered a bonus reward or push, he or she is more likely to complete the goal as he has been provided with a further incentive and help to reach a stage where his reward is within his sights.
This helps us manage our motivation, as it focuses our energy and motivation.
The downside is that we are focused on the goal in front of us and are now shortsighted or blinded with regards to other future goals which may be important.
A great way to manage your projects and goals is to have a detached mindset about them while trying to sort and prioritize them.
After the sorting, take the most important goals from the list and figure out ways to make them more immediate and attainable.
Limitations, constraints and deadlines, paradoxically help us unlock our latent creativity. They help us try the untested, take the risk and explore stuff we normally would not.
Constraints act as rules and guidelines that work for you in a positive way, whether you understand them or not.
While too many constraints and rules are counterproductive, a balanced level of constraints helps creativity. Clearly stated constraints help us plan our scope of work and the amount of effort that has to be put.
Example: A pre-existing constraint with an employer of providing a two-page CV along with the cover letter help us draft the same with the limitations in mind.
Applying constraints is like stoking the fires of creativity for writers: