Friday, May 22, 2015


Enemies are people whose story you haven't heard, or who's face you haven't seen. -Irene Butter

Dealing with Hard-Headed Men

Men are generally pretty thick-headed. But a man’s hard-headedness can work in your favor. Most of the time, their desires and motivations are pretty upfront.

 “He’s frowning." Does it mean he is mulling over that argument you had? Nope. He’s just hungry.

If you think much below the surface, you are likely to miss what many men are feeling and waste time attributing to them a level of emotional depth they seldom reach. You can (if you like) get miffed and back the guy in a corner. If you do, many men will simply cling to their position. If this happens, you will be able to point to their aggressive behavior and bursts of rage to say (again), “All men are as stupid as the day is long.” That may reinforce your worst fears about the gender, but it doesn’t really help you a lot.

Try making him believe it is his idea. Expound (gently) on the benefits--the benefits to him. Allow him to then convince himself. You simply have to be satisfied with the knowledge that you are the one who started the idea. You just can’t let him become aware of it.

Yes, this is a shallow way of relating. But if you are dealing with someone who knows no other way of relating (because they choose not to know another way or because they are in lifelong the habit of relating to others this way) then this sad state of affairs is their own doing. You are simply allowing them to be who they are.

Of course, this assumes you will attempt to develop a more significant way of relating to them, giving them the opportunity, from time to time, to engage in a more real relationship. When you do this, you eagerly look for signs of change and willingness from your hard-headed man. Hopeful, but realistic about the outcome.

This strategy of leading someone toward your desired goal until they arrive at your intended conclusion won’t do when it comes to you most trusted and intimate relationships. You want to be honest and real with those who are closest to you. Or else they really aren't that close to you, are they?

Stephen Goforth

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Procrastination Equation

A business professor has come up with a formula for procrastinators. It’s designed to help them figure out if they can overcome the failing. Piers Steel from Canada’s Calgary University decries theories that blame them for laziness or being too careful. Steel says up to one in five of us is a “chronic procrastinator” living with the mistaken notion that we can’t complete a task that we don’t care about. That separates the serious procrastinators from those who are simply lazy. The later don’t care if a task is finished or not.

Here’s Steel’s formula: U=EV/ID

Use a rating of one out of ten, you multiply your expectation of success (E) by the value of completing the task (V). Then multiply the consequence of failing to complete the current task (I) by your previous tendency to delay tasks (D). The first total (E x V) is then divided by the second figure (D x I) giving the likelihood of completing the task in hand or the utility (U). If you come up with a score less than 3 then you are, according to Steel, an official chronic procrastinator.

He says, "When we procrastinate, it's almost always about long-term objectives. 'Instead of attending to those, we go with what is more pleasurable or less painful right now."

Steel offers more details in his book The Procrastination Equation: Today’s Trouble with Tomorrow.

Stephen Goforth

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Hold me

Don’t hold me accountable… hold me close. Bob Goff

The best performers

Self-regulation begins with setting goals - not big, life-directing goals, but more immediate goals for what you're going to be doing today. In the research, the poorest performers don't set goals at all; they just slog through their work. Mediocre performers set goals that are general and are often focused on simply achieving a good outcome - win the order; get the new project proposal done. The best performers set goals that are not about the outcome but rather about the process of reaching the outcome.

For example, instead of just winning the order, their goal might be to focus especially hard on discerning the customer's unstated needs. You can see how this is strongly analogous to the first step of deliberate practice. The best performers are focused on how they could get better at some specific element of the work, just as a pianist may focus on improving a particular passage.

The best performers make the most specific, technique-oriented plans. They're thinking exactly, not vaguely, of how to get where they're going.

Geoff Colvin
Why Talent is Overrated

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

What do you really want?

Why do certain people put themselves through the years of intensive daily work that eventually makes them world-class great? The answers depend on your response to two basic questions: What do you really want? And what do you really believe?

What you want - really, deeply want - is fundamental because deliberate practice is an investment: The costs come now, the benefits later. The more you want something, the easier it will be for you to sustain the needed effort until the payoff starts to arrive. But if you're pursuing something that you don't truly want and are competing against others whose desire is deep, you can guess the outcome.

The evidence offers no easy assurances. It shows that the price of top-level achievement is extraordinarily high. Maybe it's inevitable that not many people will choose to pay it. But the evidence shows also that by understanding how a few become great, all can become better.

Geoff Colvin
Why Talent is Overrated

Monday, May 18, 2015

Reading.. Talking.. Listening

Do a lot of reading. Talk to a lot of people. Do a lot of listening. -Joyce Carol Oates

The Perfect Parent Trap

When perfectionists become parents, their mindsets don't change; they just shift their unreasonable expectations onto their children. Now their kids must be perfect too. In fact, a number of studies have found that perfectionists are so busy worrying about the drive for excellence that they aren't sensitive are responsive to the children's real needs.

Perfectionist parenting is anxious parenting. So that their children never make mistakes, these parents are overprotective, controlling, authoritarian, intrusive and dominating.

(Not that any of it helps: Research at Macquarie University in Australia showed that perfectionist parents’ tendencies to admonish kids and emphasize accuracy didn't decrease errors in children's work.)

Unsurprisingly kids of perfectionists are perfectionists too, adopting the same unreasonable expectations and exaggerated responses to failure. As a result, they're more likely to be anxious and obsessive. According to the University of Louisville researchers Nicholas Affrunti and Janet Woodriff-Borden, every time parents rush into fix something their kids learn their mistakes of threatening and they come to believe they can't be trusted to handle new experiences on the run.

And through their parents’ disengagement, kids learn that love is conditional. The only way to get it? Achieve.

Ashley Merryman, co-author of Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing, writing in ESPN the Magazine, May 11, 2015 issue

Friday, May 15, 2015

God and us: The Difference

The difference between God and us is that he never thinks that he’s us.

4 Ways to tell if your Relationship will Survive

John Gottman runs Seattle’s Love Lab. He believes he can accurately predict which couples stay together based on his lab studies, and his guesses largely revolves around supportive/destructive comments. So destructive is the effect of certain behaviors on marital happiness, in fact, that he calls these behaviors The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

The first horseman is criticism: "attacking someone's personality or character" rather than making some specific complaint about his or her behavior. The difference between saying, say, "I wish you had taken care of that bill" (a healthy and specific complaint) and "You never get the bills paid on time!" (a generalizing and blaming attack) is very significant to the listener. Criticism often engenders criticism in return and sets the stage for the second horseman: contempt.

"What separates contempt from criticism," explains Gottman, "is the intention to insult and psychologically abuse your partner." Negative thoughts about the other come out in subtle put-downs, hostile jokes, mocking facial expressions, and name-calling ("You are such an idiot around money"). By now the positive qualities that attracted you to this person seem long ago and far away, and instead of trying to build intimacy, you're ushering in the third horseman. Defensiveness comes on the heels of contempt as a seemingly reasonable response to attack -- but it only makes things worse. By denying responsibility, making excuses, whining, tossing back counter-attacks, and other strategies ("How come I'm the one who always pays the bills?!"), you just accelerate your speed down river.

Once stonewalling (the fourth horseman) shows up, things are looking bleak. Stonewallers simply stop communicating, refusing to respond even in self-defense. Of course, all these "horsemen" drop in on couples once in a while. But when a partner habitually shuts down and withdraws, the final rapids of negativity can quickly propel the marriage through whirlpools of hopelessness, isolation, and loneliness. The bottom line is that flooding is physically uncomfortable, and stonewalling becomes an attempt to escape that discomfort. When flooding becomes chronic, stonewalling can become chronic, too. Eighty-five percent of the time the stonewaller (among heterosexual couples) is the man. Though flooding happens to both men and women, it affects men more quickly, more intensely, and for a longer period of time.

Repair attempts are a way of talking about how you're communicating with each other. "Can we please stay on the subject?" "That was a rude thing to say." "We're not talking about your father!" "I don't think you're listening to me." Such statements, even when delivered in a grouchy or complaining tone, are efforts to interrupt the cycle of criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling and to bring the conversation back on track.

"In stable relationships," explains Gottman, "the other person will respond favorably: 'Alright, alright. Finish.' The agreement isn't made very nicely. But it does stop the person. They listen, they accept the repair attempt, and they actually change" the way they're relating. Repair attempts are "really critical," says Gottman, because "everybody screws up. Everybody gets irritated, defensive, contemptuous. People insult one another," especially their spouses. Repair attempts are a way of saying "we've got to fix this before it slides any deeper into the morass." Even people in bad marriages make repair attempts; the problem is, they get ignored.

Training people to receive repair attempts favorably -- even in the middle of a heated argument -- is one of the new frontiers in relationship therapy. According to Gottman, "Even when things are going badly, you've got to focus not on the negativity but on the repair attempt. That's what couples do in happy marriages."

Gloria Blanchfield Thomas
Contemplating Marriage: Reader

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Keeping a man on his feet

One of the highest of duties is the duty of encouragement... It is easy to laugh at men's ideas; it is easy to pour cold water on their enthusiasm; it is easy to discourage others. The world is full of discouragers. We have a Christian duty to encourage one another. Many a time a word of praise or thanks or appreciation or cheer has kept a man on his feet. Blessed is the man who speaks such a word.

William Barclay

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Confusion isn’t the enemy of understanding, they are allies. - Rhett Allain

What on earth is He up to?

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of — throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.

CS Lewis
Mere Christianity

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Just beyond your current limits

Excellent performers judge themselves differently than most people do. They're more specific, just as they are when they set goals and strategies. Average performers are content to tell themselves that they did great or poorly or okay.

By contrast, the best performers judge themselves against a standard that's relevant for what they're trying to achieve. Sometimes they compare their performance with their own personal best; sometimes they compare it with the performance of competitors they're facing or expect to face; sometimes they compare it with the best known performance by anyone in the field.

Any of those can make sense; the key, as in all deliberate practice, is to choose a comparison that stretches you just beyond your current limits. Research confirms what common sense tells us, that too high a standard is discouraging and not very instructive, while too low a standard produces no advancement.

Geoff Colvin
Why Talent is Overrated

Monday, May 11, 2015

Being in power

Being in power is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t. – Margaret Thatcher