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Phillip Mcclain

@phillipmcclain

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Think like Sherlock Holmes

“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

@phillipmcclain

How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes

fs.blog

As children, we are remarkably aware to the world around us. This attention wanes over time as we allow more pressing responsibilities to attend to and demands on our minds to address. And as the demands on our attention increase so, too, does our actual attention decrease.

 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: 

  • System one is real-time. This system makes judgments and decisions before our mental apparatus can consciously catch up. 
  • System two, on the other hand, is a slow process of thinking based on critical examination of evidence. Konnikova refers to these as System Watson and System Holmes.

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.

Attention is a limited resource. Paying attention to one thing necessarily comes at the expense of another.

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.

Habit and motivation. Become an expert of sorts at those types of decisions or observation that you want to excel at making.

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.

How To Fully Commit To Goals That Terrify You - Thrive Global - Medium

medium.com

Buckminster Fuller
“You never change things by fighting against the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the old model obsolete.”

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.

Greg McKeown
“To discern what is truly essential we need space to think, time to look and listen, permission to play, wisdom to sleep, and the discipline to apply highly selective criteria to the choices we make.”

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.

H.L. Hunt
There are only three requirements for success. First, decide exactly what it is you want in life. Second, determine the price that you are going to have to pay to get the things you want. And third, and this is most important, resolve to pay that price.
  • You must believe the reward (the ‘WHY’) of a particular goal is important, meaningful, and compelling.
  • You must believe that you know how (clear strategies/plans/people) to achieve your goal.
  • You must believe that you can execute the plans, strategies, and pivoting involved in achieving the goal.
Jim Rohn
“Don’t join an easy crowd; you won’t grow. Go where the expectations and the demands to perform are high.”
The Variables Of Life

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.

To thrive, build yourself a motivational environment

agileleanlife.com

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.

  • Change your smartphone or desktop wallpaper to something motivational.
  • Set alarms to follow your daily systems and good habits.
  • Declutter your home.
  • Install apps to manage your health better, like a meditation app.
  • Remove time-sucking apps and constant notifications from your phone.
  • Sell away things that annoy you.
  • Buy fresh fruit instead of chips.
  • Get a faster computer.
  1. Get rid of the Television.
  2. Find a positive person or a mentor to help you reach your goals faster.
  3. Delete your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter Accounts.
  4. Stop spending time with people who drain your energy.
  5. Sell your car and get a bike.
  1. Join a social club, gym or a business club.
  2. Find a new spouse, who is a better fit for your life.
  3. Switch to a job where your talents are better appreciated and where you like doing what you do.
  4. Change your career altogether.
  5. Move to a different country.

We can impact our environment by simply changing the way we behave and react.

  1. Stop fighting with family members.
  2. Stop resisting the market trends, and adjust our actions instead.
  3. Build a strategy to work with the system we are in, and the law of the land.
  4. Remember that the more successful we want to be, the more support we need from our environment.

Good environments are a blend of talent, technology, tolerance, transparency and transcendence.

  1. A place that makes you shine and brings out the best in you.
  2. Encourages you to make smart, right choices every day, like saving money by riding a bicycle, or eating an apple instead of a pack of Lays.
  3. Promotes moving towards good decisions and accelerating your success.
Benefits of a daily writing habit
  • Better self-discipline
  • Improving persuasion skills
  • Cultivating self-awareness
  • Better decision making
  • Seeing the power of compounding in action.

Form A Daily Writing Habit-It Will Improve Your Life

dariusforoux.com

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.

Building a writing habit
  • Read & study: Start by copying other people’s writing styles.
  • Set a daily reminder to write: It's crucial to establish a daily routine.
  • Set the bar low: Your goal is to write only one true sentence. Just one.
  • Remove distractions: Tell the people in your life about your daily writing habit. Ask them to not disturb you when you write.
Friedrich Nietzsche
""Sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.""

Nietzsche The Nihilist

medium.com

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.

Friedrich Nietzsche
"Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you."

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.

Life Value

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: A Japanese concept to improve work and life

bbc.com

Ikigai: The Reason for Being

Ikigai is illustrated in four overlapping circles, as in a Venn Diagram which talks about a synthesis of:

  • What you love to do.
  • What you are good at.
  • What the world needs.
  • What you can be paid for.
Ikigai and Happiness

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.

Everyday Life and a Lifetime

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.

Ikigai and Longevity

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 Your Ikigai

Make three small lists:

  • Your values
  • Things you like to do
  • Things you are good at

The cross-section or overlap of these three lists, is your Ikigai, something you should do for the rest of your life.

Purpose of Action

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.

Focus on the small improvements

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.

Why big changes happen when you focus on small improvements

zapier.com

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.

  • Think of ways to improve this one thing.
  • Experiment, and see what works.
  • Talk about this one thing with your manager and ask for feedback.

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."

Key to longevity: Your conversations
  • Your daily behaviour is a reflection of your deepest beliefs.
  • Your social orbit (the people you hang out with, and their mindset about life and health) affects your behaviour and your beliefs.
  • People who feel old will make you feel old.
  • Hang out with young people, people who think, behave and eat differently.
  • Even if you cannot hang out with 20-year-olds with fire in their belly, find people who have a growth mindset and are living life as an original.

One Method to Fuel Your Longevity - The Daily Mastery Podcast by Robin Sharma | Podcast on Spotify

link.tospotify.com

If you're not really interested in doing this thing (goal, project, etc.):

  • Don’t do it: Stop lying to yourself and just quit.
  • Find a strong WHY under the surface: If you can’t quit (maybe it's for your job), you need to find a way to think differently about it. 

8 Reasons You Lack Motivation - and How to Fix it

medium.com

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:

  • Look at your past achievements and remind yourself that you managed to do very challenging goals before.
  • Identify your limiting beliefs and replace them with empowering ones. 

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:

  • Sleep 8 hrs every night
  • Exercise every day: Even if it is just for 15min.
  • Start your day with a healthy breakfast and eat well throughout the day: fresh, healthy, unprocessed and nourishing food. 
  • Limit your intake of stimulants like caffeine, alcohol and nicotine
  • Small goals don't inspire you to get out of your comfort zone.
  • Goals that are too big are overwhelming and you don’t even know how to tackle them and lack the confidence to do so.

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.

We have this moment only to work on what's important

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.

Death Is the Roommate of Life - More To That - Medium

medium.com

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