Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Real Reason New College Grads Can't Get Hired

In our current economy more education is important for getting hired.  But, there are skills that you can develop that will improve your chances of getting hired.  They have to do with things such as "soft skills" according to Martha White in an article on the"The Real Reason New College Grads Can't Get Hired" for Time Magazine.

"A survey by the Workforce Solutions Group at St. Louis Community College finds that more than 60% of employers say applicants lack “communication and interpersonal skills” — a jump of about 10 percentage points in just two years. A wide margin of managers also say today’s applicants can’t think critically and creatively, solve problems or write well."

White went on saying, "As much as academics go on about the lack of math and science skills, bosses are more concerned with organizational and interpersonal proficiency. The National Association of Colleges and Employers surveyed more than 200 employers about their top 10 priorities in new hires. Overwhelmingly, they want candidates who are team players, problem solvers and can plan, organize and prioritize their work. Technical and computer-related know-how placed much further down the list."

Even if you have graduated, don't stop learning about how to integrate yourself into the business you are working for or hope to work for.  Working in groups and being part of effective teams is very important to business owners and they are looking for employees that can use those "soft skills" to increase the effectiveness of their business. I'm not suggesting that you ignore learning other skills for which you have great interest and ability.  Rather I'm suggesting that you pick up "soft skills" along the way to increase the probability of your success.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Stage Fright and What You Can Do About It

To some degree stage fright is probably in all of us when we attempt to stand up, speak and make sense. The larger the audience often the greater the fright.  But, there are things that we can do to survive stage fright and thrive.  Mikael Cho has discussed this problem clearly and effectively.  It is worth your time.  The article is entitled "How to cure stage fright: the science behind public speaking."

That  sounds really unlikely to any of us who have fought with stage fright.  But, the approach will be useful when put into practice.  The article is great for those thinking of taking or currently enrolled in a public address class.  More importantly, we never stop learning and we are always facing situations that we wish had never come along.  For example, your boss wants you to bring everyone up to date on what the company is doing in your area. This article will greatly aid you to overcome the problem.  So you will have stage fright, but instead of dying on stage, you will survive and eventually thrive.

Cho point out what most of us already think: "Genetics play a huge role in how strong your feelings of anxiety are in social situations. For instance, even though John Lennon performed on stage thousands of times, he was known for throwing up before going on stage for his live performances.

"Some people are simply genetically wired to feel more scared when performing or speaking in public."  But, even that can be taken into account and leave you free to communicate when you need/want to.

Don't stop improving.  There's a great deal you can do and it really is important to you since success often expects us to do things that at the moment we can't do.

Brains Are Important . . .Take Care of It

We are first of all brains.  Without them we are of little value to ourselves or anyone else.  It only makes sense that we would seek to maintain our brains and the body that houses it.  When we are well and fit our brains can run, walk, lift and feel and otherwise gather tons of data with which to think. 

This article makes it fairly clear that there are things we can do to improve our lives.  The article online at lifehacker is an excellent review of things we can do to maintain a physical life that is powerful and balanced.  The article is entitled "Top 10 Reasons to Exercise Regularly (Besides Losing Weight) and is worth the time it takes to read it.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

For Argument's Sake

Unfortunately, arguing has acquired a negative position in many minds.  And with some reason after all, there is a winner and a loser. When you have an argument, the mind set is often more of offense and defense than "here's an opportunity to learn something."

Daniel H. Cohan has clearly thought about this problem for some time and in this TED Talk makes good sense on what our opportunities might/should be when arguing. The whole process will take less than 10 minutes.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


(This article was first published in 2012 and contains useful thought processes in working with the concept of persuasion.) 
The Problem

There is a general feeling that clever people who know "the tricks" can persuade a person to do almost anything.  The odd part is, that we ourselves do not feel that we can persuade anybody to do anything.  We feel weak and powerless.  If this is how you feel, then a change in point-of-view may be in order: view yourself from a positive point-of-view. Think about persuasion this way.  When was the last time someone actually "persuaded" you to do something you really didn't want to do?  Let's say you did change your behavior.  Did you resolve in your mind to reform your life?  Or, more likely, did you act as if you were changed, but at the earliest opportunity you continued to do what you wanted to do? What if you are the one expected to persuade others?

There are times when all of us want to be able to change the world.  Sometimes an assignment from your boss requires that there must be changes and you were chosen to "make the changes happen." In order to do that, we have to change people.  Once the assignment has been accepted what should be happening to your thought patterns.

The intent of the following is a short guide to use when you have been assigned to "persuade your clients" to make a change. This is not a simple assignment, and your boss wants results. When we attempt to change people we run into some massive problems.  Here are some things to consider.

We Are Built Over Time

Most of us have positions which we have developed over time. These positions seem to work for us and those that we travel with are often in agreement.  Indeed, those we travel with us helped to create and maintain those positions. We learn things and use them.  We learned them in the past and we use them currently.  So we have a tendency to "live in the past."

When faced with a problem it might require that we change our positions in order to solve the current problems.  But, the impact of that change can be huge.  It may require rebuilding whole sections of our position and when we are done, we may not be happy.  That makes changes hard for all of us.  We discover, compare, become uncomfortable with our old position and reluctantly make changes to our carefully constructed positions.

In addition, those we travel with are accustomed to us and our positions. Since they helped to build and maintain our positions they may share a great deal with us.  When we alter our positions that may not be comfortable for them.  That may cause them to change their behavior toward us and now they will very likely make us uncomfortable as well. These changes can affect every aspect of your life.  If positions are working now, why take a chance and make changes.  Because as conditions change or we become aware of conditions which do not fit our solutions, we are forced to adjust. With these thoughts in mind, let's show a little respect for any and all attempts to change those around us.

What Are Positions?

When discussing positions they usually fall into these categories: attitudes, beliefs, values and behaviors. Moms and dads lay the foundation for most of them.  Life experiences and other people tend to round out these positions over time. Educational institutions tend to fill in gaps and round out what moms and dads are doing and have done.

We are often very upset when any of our positions must be altered. The key word there is "we." We do the changing and others often take the credit or the blame.  But change happens.  Given that we do the changing and you want me to change what can you do or say that will change me. We are not blank slates waiting for someone or something to write on, we come with answers to questions built in. Instead, as Jonah Lehrer says in Why We Don't Believe in Science, "we come equipped with all sorts of naive intuitions about the world, many of which are untrue."
When anyone tries to change you they are doing something that may be, and in fact is likely unwelcome. Lehrer reports that; "This means that science education is not simply a matter of learning new theories. Rather, it also requires that students unlearn their instincts, shedding false beliefs the way a snake sheds its old skin."  

Why Change

A question we might be expected to ask is, "What reason do I have to believe that my parents are stupid and that they have lied to me in my youth?" And internal status is much more than parents and family.  It is all those people with whom we have been traveling.  There is a great deal we have come to "understand and believe" over the years. When you begin the process of "position change" it isn't only what you do to yourself, but what others will think of you since they may not be making the same change. As a result, not changing your position is easier than making the change.
Stable attitudes, beliefs, values and behaviors are desirable and useful to society and to us.  When those elements shift a great deal of adjustment is required by all involved.  Things are said: "We haven't done much with the Smiths lately.  They're off trying out some harebrained ideas." "I haven't talked to Bob in months.  He's gone off the deep end politically."  "I would love to have them over, but I don't know what they can or can't eat." "I don't know what's going on there.  I don't think he even goes to church anymore."
So, if your assignment is, "Persuade them that this is the most desirable course of action for everyone," you may be in for a difficult time. What should you do?  First, acquire data.  In fact we all should create a data mining process that will expose us to dependable, tested pivotal data.  That can't come from a single source, such as a network, newspaper, person or book. Make it generally agreed upon dependable sources. Look at the news about the United States as published in several foreign newspapers, for example. Don't depend on CNN, CBS, MSNBC or Fox to tell you what is going on here. The data alone may be enough to start the process of change.  

Data Should Be the Key

Present the data in clear, easy to recall packages that have immediate application. Use critical thinking in the arrangement of the data and its presentation.

Critical thinking: "Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness." 
Two of these terms carry heavy loads: reasoning and communication.  When you have someone's attention you need to supply data and in a reasonable way.  Good data poorly reasoned is ignorable.  Good data well reasoned and delivered is valued and remembered. Good data, well reasoned and carefully organized is easier to follow and recall.  Now those you seek to change can use what you have supplied to make changes in their position.

What To Do

If your presentation does not ask for a position change, you are probably making an instructional/informational presentation. If the position change requested can be avoided by your audience or you, it will be thought of as an option: interesting but not worthy of a change in course. At this point your temptation will be to think of "them" as being stubborn, ignorant, unwilling to change and controlled by the status quo. Keep in mind that you have likely been working on changes in your own positions and you  don't think of yourself in those terms. 

Here are some ideas that should help you during the process of attempting to change people. First, who are you?  Know yourself.  Examine your position and how it came to be. Understand it's usefulness and drawbacks. Balance fact and belief based positions and sort out those that are fact based. (There is no suggestion here that beliefs are not valuable.  They are, but often they are not fact based.) Do you hold positions with which you are currently uncomfortable? Ask your yourself why you haven't changed your position and what it would take to make you change.  When you have managed to make the change does your original position make it's presence known in various ways? Do you feel free and easy with the new position in all circumstances? If not, what would it take to be free of the old position and wholly unconcerned about the new position?

Second, who do "they" think I am?  Do they know you and if so within what context. Do they think you can reliably supply useful data that they can trust and use? What do they believe your motive to be?

Third, who are "they"?  Do they feel the "need" for change? Are they comfortable with their position and feel balanced? Are they curious and driven by the need to push back ignorance? If not, then you may be attempting to affect change while they are merely curious. Not even careful scientists are able to always push back ignorance and often finding themselves defending positions they hope are true.

Fourth, who do they think they are?  Do they "know that they are right" and have a comfortable widely accepted position?  Do they already "know" and feel little or no need to gather more data?  If that is their position, You have almost no chance to aid them in making position changes. Probably the safest thing to do is create a feeling of "unbalance" or dissonance with their current position so that they will listen and look for a way to resolve the feeling of unbalance.

If you have no choice and must continue the attempt to aid "them" to make a change in their position there may be some things possible. First, find a way to catch and hold their attention.  Second, establish your credibility or believability.  Let them know that you can actually be trusted to provide what they will need to make safe and dependable position changes. Third, create conflict between the data they are learning and hopefully trusting and the position they currently hold. That would be the unbalance that they will need to resolve. Show them a way to resolve the conflict quickly, properly and effectively with a minimum of damage to their current position and this will help them to regain their balance. Make the data as easy to store and recall as possible.

Fourth, suggest solutions to problems that will naturally arise as a result of their position change. Remember, those problems will be both internal and external.  If the conflict you create is too great they may just ignore your data.  If it seems to be resolvable, then they may suppress the old position leaving the new position in a dominate position.

Do not attempt to expunge the old position. In any case, they won't be able to do that, but they might be able to live comfortably eventually with the new position. Don't attempt to prove you are "right." That means that they and all their friends and relatives are "wrong" and that may be just too much.  Instead, encourage them to view the data as being the most important element.  Encourage them to gather even more data than you have presented and to accept the fact that positions should be processes, not fixed truths. Admit to them that life is a process and that processes mean change and since it is inevitable constantly digging data and using critical thought is the best hope for us all.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Extemporaneius Presentation

A major portion of this piece was first published in 2011. It's importance remains and it is worth repeating. 

Extemporaneous delivery is probably worth as much time as you can afford to spend on the project. By extemporaneous we mean you know what you are going to say and you have the content well in mind. You have organized the data appropriately for your listeners and when the time comes for you to speak, you choose your words while you are speaking.

Aristotle thought that between content and delivery, delivery was not nearly as important. Demosthenes on the other hand felt that delivery is critical. Personally I think that excellent content excellently delivered should be the goal. In life, you will most often be asked to speak on things about which you are well informed. Your biggest problem will be matching the audience to you and your topic. That will guide you in what to include, while you are narrowing your topic. Then the order in which you have been most successful talking to others about the topic.

Task: establish a central idea and type it across a blank page in your word processor, and save it to your desktop. Whenever you think of something that should be included in your presentation, open the document and add it. As potential main ideas occur to you, add them. As supportive material occurs to you, add them under the appropriate main idea. Out of this will grow your fairly detailed outline.

Practice: examine your materials, adjust them to fit you, your audience and the occasion. Let the rough outline sit for a time and then go over your materials and set a final version of the outline. Use that outline to build the visual materials (PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi, etc.) you will need to clearly make your points. Remember, the more ways you can simultaneously say a thing the easier it will be for your audience to understand and retain what you are saying. Remember, in the "real" world you will be asked to say to a large group, things you have already been saying to individuals and small groups. You have practiced/rehearsed  your speech. More practice won't hurt and will help.

Delivery: get to your location early, setup and test everything. Once you stand up and begin, realize that there is nothing more you can do to prepare. Your only concern now is that the audience will understand and be able to recall and use what you are saying. It isn't important that you be perfect in appearance or delivery. . .only that the audience understands, can recall and use your content. You are at this point more like a missionary than anything else: only concerned about the audience.

Afterwards: what kinds of questions are asked? What might you have done to make clearer what you were trying to say. Make notes and then make repairs, because it is likely that you'll be asked to do this again fairly soon.

Don't forget to make available leave behinds. Don't pass them out before or during your presentation. Be certain that your contact information is clearly part of the leave behind. 

At this point, your contact information becomes the shortest route to getting that raise you so richly deserve. Remember, you wouldn't have been asked to make the presentation had you not been a recognizable expert in the area.  If during and after the presentation there are those who would like to have you working with/for them, the contact information will be needed by them to reach you.  You are not under any obligation to change employers, but should it be desirable from your point of view you may be given the opportunity.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

We Still Believe . . .

"A survey by the Workforce Solutions Group at St. Louis Community College finds that more than 60% of employers say applicants lack “communication and interpersonal skills” — a jump of about 10 percentage points in just two years. A wide margin of managers also say today’s applicants can’t think critically and creatively, solve problems or write well."

We all understand that we may know science inside and out and still not be able to build and maintain friendships.  We understand that no matter how nice we "really" are, if folk don't like our nonverbal communication, they won't give us a chance to build a relationship.  What we sometimes forget that employees unable to effectively communicate are not really assets to the organization that might hire them.  

How well you can communicate will be revealed in your job interview to say the least.  The better you demonstrate your abilities to communicate the more likely that you will be hired.  Don't misunderstand, you still need the content of your chosen field, but you must also be able to communicate that content effectively.  Never stop improving your communication skills.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

"That's your problem!"

There are several things that many of us use to deflect problems caused by attempts to accurately communicate.  Here are some.

"You know what I meant."
"That's not what I said and you know it."
"It was never my intent to insult anyone."
"That's your problem, not mine."

We forget that each of us is separate and different from the other.  Even with the same parents there are very real differences.  We also imagine that what we are thinking is pretty much what everyone else is thinking.  Even if our thoughts are "in the same ballpark," they can't be the same since we all have different meaning in our minds for nearly everything. This awareness should force us to take great care when our intent has an impact that is not expected.

Some precautions that would be useful to keep in mind from Richard Magid in a useful article about Intent vs. Impact.

"Challenge One: Every message must first pass through the filter of the speaker’s clarity of expression and then through the listener’s ability to hear what is said.
(Opportunity #1 for Intent not to equal Impact)
Challenge Two: We don’t actually know the intentions of the people we communicate with; often times we assume/judge their intentions based on their actions which may cause their words to impact us unfavorably.
(Opportunity #2 for Intent not to equal Impact)
Challenge Three: Good intentions do not sanitize bad impact.
(“Good Communication” - INTENT must = IMPACT)"

So how do we improve the chance that what our intent is creating the proper impact?  Magid points out some solutions.

"First, ask yourself some questions:
- What just occurred?
- How is the outcome different from what I intended/expected?
- Where can I take responsibility?
- How do I clean this up?
Second, take action to clean up mismatches of intent and impact as quickly as you can:
- Be honest about your intention.
- Discuss with the other person, their perspective.
- How could you have handled the communication differently?
- Take responsibility for your actions.
Things to Remember/Action Steps:
• “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
• As you communicate with others on a day-to-day basis, strive for Good Communication. Pay attention to the signs that there may be a mismatch between your intent and your impact on a colleague, friend, or someone at home and take immediate action."

Melanie Tannenbaum has some excellent thoughts on what to do about ideas like, "But I didn't mean it!"  First, it would be an excellent plan to assume that sooner or later you will "put your foot in your mouth."  Harm can be done and a thought pattern would be useful.  Tannenbaum says, "So, the point is that we really need to focus on impact, not intent. Was someone hurt by something? Was there a negative outcome? Did someone suffer? If so, that is what’s important. Whether or not the perpetrator meant to cause harm is not."

To say the least, human communication is difficult.  It is worthy of great attention.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Business and Cross-Cultural Communication

Johann Joh explains the potential of problems in communication in this YouTube and some of the considerations that must be made if the stated goals are to be reached.

Cross-Cultural Communication in the Business World

Steve Klemme is a banker and has clients outside the United States.  He has to serve both his corporation and their clients successfully.  Not an easy task, but in this YouTube he gives us an idea of how that can be accomplished.

Another View of Cultural Communication

Dr. Robert Moran talks about high and low context as it directly pertains to language.  This short YouTube should add another dimension to our understanding of culture and communication.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

LIstening: TED Talk

This speaker says a great deal in just over 7 minutes that can be of value to all of us.  Julian Treasure, the speaker, thinks we are losing our ability to listen.  He may be right.  Watch this and of course, listen.


There is great safety in listening.  Fights can be avoided, opportunities seized, friendships built, raises obtained and many other benefits.  Below is a re post discussing listening which is fitting at this time.

(First posted in April 17, 201. There are many articles published on listening and much can be learned.  Skillful listening is critical to success in reaching our goals.)

Much of the time we confuse hearing and listening. They are different. Hearing is something that many of us can do with varying capabilities. Some need hearing aids and some can hear sounds that are well in excess of the "normal range." Almost none of us are willing to concede that our hearing is something that we should always protect. Aging robs even those who can hear well. How well you can hear makes a difference. If you can't hear the subtleties of pronunciation then you can't include them in your conversation. If those subtleties are necessary for the proper understanding of what you are saying, then you have a problem.

Listening is much more complicated. It includes the attributes of hearing and much more. As mentioned in the book "Communication: Principles for a Lifetime," listening involves such things as:
1. Selecting certain stimuli out of all the stimuli around us. Not only what is apparently being "said" but how it is being "said."
2. Focusing on a particular stimulus or message. The ability to block out stimuli while paying careful attention to specific stimuli.
3. Assigning meaning to messages. Your meaning, of course, but more importantly what "they" mean.
4. Recalling information(stimuli)that has been communicated. There are barriers here that are often ignored.
5. Responding or confirming your understanding of a message. Now you're in a position to "say" something.

The barriers need some thought. There are many and here is a brief list.
1. Rest: the ability to concentrate on everything that is being "said" verbally and non-verbally over a period of time takes energy. After long periods of listening you really should be tired. Don't confuse physical and mental exercise. They both require effort.
2. Health: clearly, if you are sick, concentration is not a reasonable expectation. All you really want to do is get well, then maybe you can concentrate.
3. Physical fitness: in order to have a reserve of energy you must be physically fit and able to think and concentrate over a period of time.
4. Freedom from stress: if you're having personal problems anywhere in your life it makes listening a very difficult task.
5. Drug free: legal or not, anything that affects your abilities think, focus, recall and respond to what is being "said" will get in the way.

Listening is not simple or easy. The more we know about it the better the chances are that we will be able to listen. The question is, "To whom are we listening?" The list is really long, but some that may hit close to home are: children, spouse, parents, grand-parents, friends, fellow employees, supervisors, officials of all kinds and the list goes on.

Listening is central in many ways to being able to reach your personal goals. In addition, those who can listen well are able to help those around them making improvements to the lives of those around them. Listening is really important.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Know What You Are Saying

Over coffee recently, we discussed how conversations are encouraged and how useful they are.  This statement was made; "You seem to know everything about the folk around here." From the question you might not be certain how to take it: negatively or positively

At first the comment was taken as negative: as in nosy, prying, pushy.  The reaction was a quick denial.   "These people just wanted to talk and I listened."  A third party chimed in and said , "People don't just stop me so they can talk", so it wasn't just the fact that these people just wanted to talk. You must have said something. It was accepted that there must have been some sort of "solicitation"  to converse.

After considerable discussion, denials, accusations and disbelief it finally boiled down to two things. First, we all agreed that it was not negative ask questions. The defensive statement was reasonable saying, "Of course I ask questions.  That's how conversations are maintained."  And that is true.  In addition, if you are just a face with no apparent interest in what is being said the conversation will be short or nonexistent. 

We often ignore the nonverbal aspect of communication. If you look like someone who might "know", folk will ask you.  If you look like someone who is as lost as anyone else, why would they ask? Some of us appear to be open to a conversation and some of us less so. When you are apparently open to a conversation you are much more likely to find yourself in a conversation.

Keep in mind, it is impossible to avoid communicating.  Ask yourself, what am I saying?  Don't forget that communication is irreversible.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Words Are Important

We often hear folk say, "Talk is cheap."  In many ways, that is correct.  But, it tempts us to ignore the power of words.  Take a look at this example found on YouTube and you'll get another impression of the power of words. 

The more we think about what we say and how we say it the better off we all will be.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Goals Give Life Direction

(Originally posted in 2011 and continues to be an important concept everyday we are alive.)
As we examine important goals in our lives I think it will become clear that we all want to . . .
1.  Live with the person of our choice.
2.  Live in the community of our choice.
3.  Work at the job of our choice.
4.  Work at the level of our choice.
5.  Work at the pay of our choice.
None of us would like to have some person or agency assign us a place to live.  Instead, what we want to do is live where we want to.  That has the best chance of happening if you are skilled at communication.  In order to live in a community we have know about the place and then have a way to support ourselves in that community.  Once we have selected the community and moved in, changes occur that may or may not suit you.  The one constant in communication is change. 
In order for any community to stay “on course”, those who live there must use their best skills to keep the community on track.  You want the best possible schools for your children, the safest movement of traffic, good clean water, etc. These things don’t just happen.  They are shaped and adopted because of the people who live there.  Since you are going to be one of them, you have responsibilities to make sure that the community succeeds.  Most communities deteriorate because they are allowed to.  The best way to destroy an effective community is to do nothing.
In this case, “doing,” means acquiring information through communication, processing the information and then attempting to apply the result to your community.  Verbal and nonverbal communications are basic to the process.  The larger the community is the greater the need for groups of people to successfully communicate.  When this coalition works there is the best possible chance that you can describe the community as successful.
(Don’t forget that throughout this community improvement process it is critical that you continue to use your communication skills to build your interpersonal relationships.  The need for that process never dies.)
Small changes in a community can drastically change the community.  For example, if those who are very influential to the maintenance of the community move away, the entire process may falter and leave the community in shambles.
Where you live will inevitably affect where you work.  This affect will influence your ability to achieve the “job of your choice.” In addition, your effectiveness in the community of your choice may affect your professional position.  It is nearly impossible to separate your life into non-overlapping units.  Keep in mind, you may be the best person for any job, but if those hiring don’t know you exist you won’t get hired.  The process of informing the world who you are never stops.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Basic Assumptions

 None of us asked to be alive.  We didn’t order the body we live in, we didn’t order the brain we live with, we didn’t request the sex we are, we didn’t request the parents we have . . .in fact we simply became aware of our existence.  When born we are basically a brain and little else.  When we are old we find ourselves in the same position.  We are mostly brain and when very young or old, there is less that we can physically accomplish. It should be noted that our senses and bodies allow our brain to increase its understanding of things around us.  That makes our bodies an extension of the brain.

In between, human beings tend to become distracted from the care and training of their brain into other less important areas that are basically short lived. When we are born we spend a great deal of our lives learning language and understanding communication.  We are not overly concerned about running a marathon or how physically attractive we are.  It’s just the joy of being alive and being with those whose language we speak, that is central to us.  We come full circle: when we are old we are not overly concerned about running a marathon or how physically attractive we are.  It’s again the joy of being alive and with those whose language we speak that is central to us.

In between, we often become confused about what is important and why. We feel an obligation to fulfill the expectations of others in a huge array of areas that have little or nothing to do with the joy we once felt.  In most cases, our successes following the wishes of others are fleeting and we are frustrated. 

Our best asset is our brain.  Our brain works most of the time well enough to allow us to keep up with those around us.  Some seem to have quicker wits and others slower.  But, when we work to improve the brain we have, we often find that things go better for us in general. 

One big problem we all have is to effectively communicate with others.  That is the biggest single reason we need to spend as much time and energy improving our brain and its ability to communicate.  The reason is simple: most things that we accomplish in life are through the cooperation of groups of people. 

We are built brick by brick, moment to moment, by communication.  We see what others do and say and we adopt it. They are an integral part of our growth and development.  If others are building us and we are in turn building others, communication should become one of the most important areas of concentration we have. It should be clear that we are building our future as well as those around us.  A sense of community is basic to our success.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Data Continues to be Important

People often make statements and provide no clue as to how they arrived at their position.  If no data is provided we might say that they are leaning heavily on ethos, in other words, their reputation.  They appear to be informed, have a position and folk have come to believe that what they say is probably accurate, because of their ethos. (Ethos--what to others we appear to be.)

Pankaj Ghemawat, an economist, has been studying the cross-boundary activities of people in an attempt to better understand the extent to which our planet has become borderless.  His findings are very interesting and they run counter to the ideas presented in the best seller book written by the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century.  The book is popular and has contributed extensively to the idea that the world is becoming borderless and therefore is flat. 

Watch and listen to Ghemawat as he presents data that indicates that we indeed have boarders and that thinking that we don't may be impeding our progress to important world solutions.