I have been auditing Wesleyan University's "How to Change The World" via Coursera and was recently struck with the fact that perhaps the largest reason very little is getting done about global warming is the nature of the human brain and the difficulty most of us have with long-term thinking. Wesleyan President Michael Roth, the course instructor, related human weakness to delayed gratification to the famous Stanford Marshmallow Experiment, pointing to this functionality of our brains as one reason we are on course to literally destroying the world for our grand kids.
Regardless of whether you believe global warming is real or not, you really should believe that small things over a period time can do amazing and great things - what I want to call TTOT (Tiny Things Over Time). From investing 10% of your income into an IRA account early in life to the formation of the grand canyon, to the habit of brushing your teeth, the examples of this fact are legion. And yet, we still don't DO anything to harness this - at least most of us don't.
I am currently reading "The one Thing" by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan in which they make a compelling argument to simplify your vision and purpose and do small things to leverage maximum results. "You need to be doing fewer things for more effect instead of doing more things with side effects." In the beginning of the book the authors share the powerful analogy of how a domino can knock over another one 1.5 times its size (see YouTube video below). Lots of cool stuff with that idea in relation to TTOT.
Recently I finished Small Move, Big Change which also goes into great detail about the impact that small and simple actions can have on ones life satisfaction. We humans are not long-term thinkers, and it takes too much of our decision power and energy to constantly make big commitments to things that require us to see the results of our actions in the long term. So how can I create for myself simplified, actionable, daily tasks that will help me feel gratified while also helping me prepare for the unforeseen and long-term future?
In his TEDx Talk in Bloomington, Shawn Anchor shares the "Happiness Advantage" that comes from:
The Positive Psychology movement, and the idea of doing the scientifically proven tasks above on a daily basis is a perfect example of TTOT. A tenant of the human condition (and the Declaration of Independence) is seeking happiness. Because of our inability to ponder the long term impact of our decisions now, many people do simply idiotic things in the hopes it will give them joy. Pornography, overworking at the office, media addiction, food, substance abuse, and others are all examples of surrogates, taking the place of actionable and proven tasks that will -in the long run- produce some true degree of happiness.
Said a dramatic and thoughtful sage from Jerusalem, "Most people don't believe something can happen until it already has. That's not stupidity or weakness, that's just human nature." Whether it was meant as a statement on global warming, TTOT tasks for daily happiness, or a zombie apocalypse I really don't think it matters because it is true.
In counseling his son, a prophet from the Book of Mormon stated, "Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise." So there you go, TTOT is not only sponsored by Brad Pitt and the Mormon Church, but it is the driving principal of at least two bestselling business books, the result of thousands of hours of positive psychology research, and the subject of a major Massively Open Online Course!
What does it matter to you and me? Well, what Tiny Things Over Time are you doing? Where will those things lead you? What will you consequences might occur in your life and those around you because of active choices you make to influence your TTOT points?
Small Move, Big Change: Using Microresolutions to Transform Your Life Permanently by Caroline L. Arnold
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book offers an excellent and simple method to change your life. Much like Dan and Chip Heath's "Switch", Arnold's remedy for transformation comes back to changing your automated path by making small adjustments rather than massive goals or changes to your daily regimen.
Already I am more organized, self confident, and focused thanks to the insights in this book. Looking back at this book in the future I want to remember the seven rules for a micro resolution:
1 - A micro resolution is easy. Small changes bring big benefits - keep your resolution limited, reasonable, and achievable --easy.
2 - A micro resolution is an explicit and measurable action. Lay out the action of your resolution -what,when, how. Cue your resolution (when I walk in the door I will . . . when I open my computer I will . . . )
3 - A micro resolution pays off up front. It brings an immediate and valuable benefit, by design. Never think of your microresolution as an increment, merely a stepping-stone on the way to a future goal; the benefit your microresoution delivers today is the goal.
4 - A micro resolution is personal. It must be designed by you, for you, based on observation of you own habits, attitudes, and situation. Use internal messaging to re frame mindsets.
5 - A Micro resolution resonates. Instead of "I resolve to chew my food slowly" reframe the solution as "I resolve to dine leisurely and savor my food and drink." The reframing expresses a positive value rather than simply stressing a negative one. Remember the power of zero-tolerance framing: use only for situation where such vigilance -even zealotry- is necessary to guard against the mistep that leads to indulgence, lack of control, true disorder.
6 - A microresolution fires on cue. Establishing a strong link between an action and its cue is essential for making a new behavior automatic.
7 - Make microresolutions just two at a time. Limiting your resolutions ensures that you have the attention and endurance to stick with a behavioral shift until it becomes autopilot.
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This is a little late, but I need to get this thought out there before I lose it.
So the Superbowl . . . did you watch it? I bet you had a great time. I heard the Broncos lost.
Confession: I have never watched the Superbowl, ever. Well, I did see about 1.5 minutes of the game when serving as a missionary in Southern California but that hardly counts.
One thing that caught my attention on social media during Superbowl Sunday that was the unique posts tied to emotion and the commercials that played. I have seen most of the commercials by keeping my eye out, but none of them affected me like what I was seeing online.
I will be the first to admit that I have a general aversion to advertising in general. I am not sure why. Perhaps it is the idea of pushing your product on to someone and trying to convince them on many levels why they NEED it, when in my mind human beings actually need very little. Maybe it has something to do with my moral compass. For example, seeing billboards from beer companies that say "drive responsibly" strikes me as a rude joke.
Ironically, I am a member of a marketing department. I make videos that are supposed to bring people into the company I work for. Hypocrite?
Well, obviously to go forward on a daily basis and feel good about myself I have had to frame what I am doing in a way that I am happy (or at least satisfied) with what I am doing. In my mind, the core values of the company I work with are actually aligned with my personal ones. I admire my coworkers, and I have deep respect for the founder and CEO. What we offer as an organization, I believe, genuinely helps people. So making videos in order to help others really isn't bad, it is actually quite enjoyable.
Is there a difference between me and Bud's marketers when we aim to use emotion to connect with potential costumers? I would say "yes" of course, because I feel I am basing that decision on the high moral grounds of what my organization stands for. Bud employees may argue that their products bring joy or fun to their consumers, but I just can't see that argument panning out when Bud products also contribute to psychological damage, physical agony, death, and societal erosion.
Advertising in the digital age has become much more complicated both in technology and ethics. Superbowl Beer ads are ancient compared to the micro-targeted algorithms which mine your big data profile- knowing when to show you pictures of things you recently deleted on your Amazon wish list - and when to feed you posts from friends that will spark your interest and reward you with a few drops of dopamine.
It sickens me.
What does real emotion even mean when it is controlled and pushed by people who merely want to exploit it to increase sales? How relative are our moral compasses? Just because I feel that my work is ethical, is it?
One of the many things I have learned in recent weeks is the concept of a personal Brand. Dr. Steve Greene talked to students about this idea, and I heard it come out in one of my subjects in a short film I made last week.
Steve Jobs' biography taught me about the immense impact of one man's brand in changing how the world views design. Sean White and Michael Jordan have created unique brands that literally use their names. I abhor the Walmart brand and distrust the Facebook one, but for some reason still give them both my service.
While the idea of personal branding isn't necessarily new to me, actually sitting down and thinking about what my brand is was something I had never done. In reading articles like this one, I thought more about it. What is my "brand"? In other words, what impression do I give to others in and out of my work place? What unique skills do I have to offer? What sets my brand apart?
Faith and Character
In one of my favorite addresses, Elder Scott explores the important connection between faith and character. In this talk I see themes that I want to make an integral part of who I am. Traits such as consistent, humble, and in control.
Noble character is like a treasured porcelain made of select raw materials, formed with faith, carefully crafted by consistent righteous acts, and fired in the furnace of uplifting experience. It is an object of great beauty and priceless worth . . . It is nobility of character, that fabric of inner strength and conviction woven from countless righteous decisions, that gives life its direction . . .You become what you do and what you think about. Lack of character leads one under pressure to satisfy appetite or seek personal gain. You cannot successfully bolster a weak character with the cloak of pretense.
At the end of the speech, Elder Scott gives a few key takeaways:
• God uses your faith to mold your character.
• Character is the manifestation of what you are becoming.
• Strong character results from consistent correct choices.
• The bedrock of character is integrity.
• The more your character is fortified, the more enabled you are to exercise the power of faith
I don't think it is a stretch to say that these points are phenomenal criteria in which to gauge one's personal brand. Character, brand, identity, image - I think they are all fairly synonymous.
George Washington: A Brand of Powerful Leadership
I have been reading Washington: A Life and am continually amazed at the brand he created for himself. He was incredibly observant, had remarkable self control and tact, was fiercely bold in following his sense of intuition, and was oriented around an unbreakable sense of duty and honor. In many ways I am reminded of the detail fanatic and design revolutionary Steve Jobs as I read about the Father of our country. If you look the book up on Amazon you can read a few interesting facts that are found there in such as :
-- Washington was obsessed with his personal appearance, which extended to his personal guard during the war. Despite wartime austerity and a constant shortage of soldiers, he demanded that all members of his personal guard be between 5'8" and 5'10"; a year later, he narrowed the range to 5'9" to 5'10."
--At Mount Vernon, Washington functioned as his own architect—and an extremely original one at that. All of the major features that we associate with the house—the wide piazza and colonnade overlooking the Potomac, the steeple and the weathervane with the dove of peace—were personally designed by Washington himself.
--A master showman with a brilliant sense of political stagecraft, Washington would disembark from his coach when he was about to enter a town then mount a white parade horse for maximum effect. It is not coincidental that there are so many fine equestrian statues of him.
To me, Washington is up there with Jobs and other icons who have meticulously branded themselves around a set of principles, emotions, and ideologies.
My Personal Brand
So, back to the question of my own brand. I am not sure exactly at this point how I want to brand myself. I am aware that whether I actively try to mold my character or passively let it evolve, I will have a brand whether I know it or not. Thus I feel it is important to be intentional and take ownership of it rather than let myself be defined by circumstances and other people.
In brainstorming ideas and concepts important to me, I came up with a few. These include: consistency, Integrity, simplicity, faith-based, healthy, clean and concise. That is all I have for now, but as I discover more about what I want to do and what my niche is I want to narrow these general principles into a specific mantra or brand I can run my character on.
I am a graduate student in Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University. I enjoy writing, hiking, and spending time with my family.