“What Sherlock Holmes offers isn’t just a way of solving a crime. It is an entire way of thinking."
"Holmes provides... an education in improving our faculty of mindful thought and in using it in order to accomplish more, think better, and decide more optimally." - Ellen Langer
As it does so, we become less and less able to know or notice our own thought habits and more and more allow our minds to dictate our judgments and decisions, instead of the other way around.
Daniel Kahneman believes there are two systems for organizing and filtering knowledge:
To move from a System Watson- to a System Holmes-governed thinking takes mindfulness plus motivation.
As Holmes tells Watson, “I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose.”
Attics have two components: structure and contents. Your memory attic should not be jumbled and mindless so that knowledge gets lost.
"To cultivate our knowledge actively, we need to realize that items are being pushed into our attic space at every opportunity. "
When we’re in our default System Watson mode, we don’t “choose” which memories to store. They just kind of store themselves—or they don’t, as the case may be.
Before we include something in our brain attic we must first observe it.
It’s not just about the passive process of letting objects enter into your visual field. It is about knowing what and how to observe and directing your attention accordingly: what details do you focus on? What details do you omit?
It’s about understanding how to contextualize those details within a broader framework of thought.
We cannot allocate our attention to multiple things at once and expect it to function at the same level as it would were we to focus on just one activity.
To think we also need distance.
Forcing your mind to take a step back is a tough thing to do. It seems counterintuitive to walk away from a problem that you want to solve.
Not only does distance facilitate imaginative thinking but it also helps counter short-term emotions.
When an idea becomes your obsession and purpose, and it is highly personal to you, then you can take that idea and quickly turn it into a reality.
Ideas can only truly catch hold if they are embedded within a deeply emotional experience that reshapes how you view your identity and purpose in life.
Whether you’re currently winning or losing in life — you will quickly adapt to your circumstances. The brain needs novelty to thrive, otherwise, it quickly becomes stale.
The worst thing you can do is to focus most of your energy and thought on maintaining your current position or protecting your current status.
The only way to get to the next level is by letting go of who you’ve been. The longer you hold on, the smaller your thinking will be.
Don’t get stuck where you were. Be willing to banish the past, no matter how great, for a better future.
Every time you step into growth, you’ll experience an increase in complexity and chaos. Growth is the process of taking something complex and making it simple.
This is how you grow. You step into chaos and create simplicity and knowingness.
These are the keys to discovering what is possible and what is out there.
You don’t know what you don’t know. You must be exposed to new universes to realize it’s possible to expand far beyond the current sphere in which you are.
Comparing yourself to others (those at the top of the industry), being inspired by someone and learning from their mastery is essential to learning and growth. Mimicry, however, is a very bad thing.
Study the best examples and understand what worked out for them so you can quickly innovate and evolve beyond that. Don’t be an imitator. Be an innovator.
As you begin to map out the possibilities (in the form of various role-models from multiple domains), you begin to crystallize and clarify your personal 'Why'.
You’ll be able to have concrete concepts to point to in explaining what matters to you, where you’re going, and how you’re going to do it.
You begin making changes to your environment and relationships that reflect the old you and old vision.
Your environment, language, behavior, and life begin to quickly reshape themselves to match the new reality you’ve spiritually and emotionally created.
Where you are right now is a sum total of your starting point, your character and your environment.
Our character, personality traits, behavioural patterns, level of awareness, and decision-making skills form a set of variables that define the outcome of our life. Another set of variables is what we get in our environment, like our upbringing, and the people around us.
We may not have control over most of the factors of our environment, but the more we understand ourselves, getting aware of our personal power and learning the required life lessons to humble us, the more capable we get at influencing our own environment.
Some factors will stay the same no matter what we do, and it is a good idea to change our mindset about them, and decide to see things differently. We can redesign our environment or redesign our thinking.
Our environment, the people and all the external elements around us can be influenced with varying degrees. It is easy to replace the car we have, as compared to switching to a different company. Family culture, market trends and political/social/economical factors are the hardest to change or influence.
Learning about what is easy to change and what is not is important before we try to influence, replace, remove or tinker with any of the environmental factors.
We can impact our environment by simply changing the way we behave and react.
Good environments are a blend of talent, technology, tolerance, transparency and transcendence.
The reason why we don’t do anything useful with our time is that we lack self-discipline.
But when you write every day, you strengthen your discipline. And you can transfer that better self-discipline to achieve anything in life.
Nothing will help you to get to know yourself more than translating your thoughts into words.
When you force yourself to write every day, you automatically become more aware of your thoughts. And self-awareness is one of the most important skills that predict career success.
Nietzsche, a controversial German philosopher, fell out of favour due to his ideas about the ideal, superior man, described as the ‘overman’ who can and should foil the weaker man, were used by the Nazis.
His ideas pertaining to nihilism form his most popular doctrines and philosophies.
Nihilism is the belief that all values are baseless, and there is nothing worthy to know or communicate. It is a philosophy of no belief, no trust, and having no purpose in life.
Nietzsche believed successful marriages are possible when there is a good amount of existing friendship.
According to him, a woman's love has a built-in hatred towards that which is not loved, and both love and hate come together as a package.
Madness was a subjective and relative term according to the German philosopher.
He wrote about madness being found in prayer, love and a personal response towards life. A madhouse or asylum, according to him, was filled with people who were not really mad, but just like himself, different from what the society deems as normal.
Nietzsche observed that we start to become the person we focus on. We start to resemble our enemies and indulge in the very things that we hate in the other person, absorbing the thoughts and feelings of those associated with us.
The No-belief ideology of Nietzsche provides a kind of cosmic scepticism, where everything is uncertain and even the concept of good and evil is subjective.
Established moral theories were routinely questioned by the philosopher and many consider the doctrine as an important counterpoint to many of the practices and moral values taken for granted.
The controversial philosopher questioned whether people really want to hear the truth or are happy in their beliefs, assumptions and illusions, not wanting them to be crushed by inconvenient facts.
Many people suffer from delusions and pretensions that have now taken up the place of reality and can turn hostile if faced with the bitter truth.
The Japanese have a secret that embodies the idea of happiness in living, and it is called Ikigai.
Essentially, Ikigai, loosely translated to life value, or life worth, is a concept of living that the Japanese culture imbibes for decades.
Ikigai is illustrated in four overlapping circles, as in a Venn Diagram which talks about a synthesis of:
According to psychiatrist Mieko Kamiya, the concept of Ikigai is similar to happiness, but with a difference.
Ikigai looks at the larger picture of life, allowing you to be ok with a miserable situation, as the grand vision of life, and the future is still positive.
The concept of Ikigai aligns with everyday life, as opposed to a lifetime. It makes us appreciate our daily life, celebrating it, and experiencing the small joys of living.
Ikigai is the reason you wake up in the morning for, that thing you live for, daily.
Japanese have a large number of senior citizens, including many centenarians, with the average lifetime being 87 years for women and 81 years for men.
Ikigai has been a major reason for the long life of the Japanese, along with special kinds of diets.
Make three small lists:
The cross-section or overlap of these three lists, is your Ikigai, something you should do for the rest of your life.
Ikigai is not a theoretical concept to be understood and left aside, and can only work in daily action and constant practice.
Your work should make a difference in people's lives, and not necessarily would be just working hard.
Doing more in less time is not the ultimate solution to productivity. It's the path to burnout.
Productivity rests more on small improvements. By focusing on the small things, the big things will take care of themselves.
Most people perform a combination of varied small tasks in a day. There may be many small improvements you could make to your workflow or environment to get more done.
Step one is finding out what those things are. Involve your peers or your manager if you need help with this.
Every week, choose one thing from your list and focus on it.
The goal is to find ways to improve that small part of your work.
Communicate how the small changes helped you to improve. After a week focusing on this one thing, our natural tendency is to want to share how we did toward our output.
Be sure to talk about the small thing you focused on. It will help reinforce that focusing on the little things consistently over time will produce big results.
Large, abstract goals are intimidating. This is why focusing on smaller areas for improvement can put us in control over our own development.
Instead of an abstract goal like "becoming a better manager", you could use an actionable step like, " I want to devote one hour a week to preparing more for my 1:1s with my team."
If you're not really interested in doing this thing (goal, project, etc.):
If you procrastinate because your goal seems too much and you don't know where to start, break it down into smaller parts. It will be easier to tackle.
Make a rough project timeline and identify the first chunk to get started with and within the first chunk, the very first action.
If you don't believe you can do a certain thing:
If you've completely lost your willingness to do this thing because you're burnt out, free up physical and mental energy and reprioritize.
Rest, de-stress and sleep enough to recharge your batteries. Say “no” to things that are less important than your goal.
If your fear is subconsciously holding you back from gathering the motivation to get started, try to understand it.
Get clear about what you are afraid of, how it is holding you back and then come up with a specific strategy to deal with your fear.
If you feel constantly tired, fix your unhealthy lifestyle and your motivation problem will take care of itself:
Both ends of the spectrum are equally bad for your motivation and morale.
If you're demotivated because you thought you’d be there by now, understand that good things take time.
Focus on the progress and enjoy the journey, because it is as much as a reward as achieving your goal.
Death illuminates the fact that this very moment is all we really have in this life.
We have only this moment to work on what gives us meaning and to tell the people we love most that we love them.