15 September 2014

WHEN WRITING, WRITE…

0700 by Jeff Hess

My favourite anecdote about the novelist Anthony Trollope—no less noteworthy, I like to think, for also being my only anecdote about Anthony Trollope—concerns his writing habits. Each morning, before leaving for his job at the post office, he wrote for three hours. (“Three hours a day,” he reckoned, “will produce as much as a man ought to write.”) So far, so disciplined. But here’s the kicker: if he finished a novel midway through a three-hour period, he just started writing the next one.

It’s easy to see this as indicative of workaholism, or of a dull, unimaginative, grinder’s attitude; critics have certainly disdained Trollope for producing too many words and not enough art. But there’s something useful to be learned here, too—not from Trollope’s relentlessness, but from his focus on process rather than outcome. His goal, it appears (though of course we can only guess), wasn’t “finish great book”, or even “get paid”. It was “put in three hours”. What resulted from all those three-hour chunks, he seems to have recognised, was beyond his control, and not worth worrying about.

Admittedly, there’s something about this that rankles. Working on an assembly line is boring, and the postindustrial era promises an escape from soul-crushing routinisation.

The marathon runner who’s reached a state of “flow” isn’t visualising the finish line, but looking through a narrower lens, focusing on one stride, then another, then another. This isn’t merely a matter of breaking a big project into chunks, which is an adjustment of scale; it’s a total shift in perspective. The young Jerry Seinfeld’s scriptwriting technique involved marking an X on a calendar for every day he sat and typed. His goal was an unbroken chain of Xs. If he’d aimed instead to write brilliant jokes, he’d have been distracted and intimidated.

We can’t control outcomes in any sphere of life. All you can do—and therefore the only responsibility you have—is to put in the time and effort. The actual result, in a profound sense, is none of your business. Take this one step further and it becomes positively meditative: a matter, in the words of the Vietnamese writer Thich Nhat Hanh, of “doing the dishes just to do the dishes”, not to achieve clean dishes.

Oliver Burkeman writing in his column will change your life for The Guardian.

15 September 2014

RULE NO. 75: NO LABELS ON THE TABLE…

0600 by Jeff Hess

Rule No. 75 – No Labels on the Table.
From Food Rules, an eater’s manual by Michael Pollan

Previously…

Found in my electronic chapbook. See also Eating Mindfully by Jan Chozen Bey.

15 September 2014

NOT THE MARIETTA TIMES

0500 by Jeff Hess

TODAY’S MARIETTA TIMES FRONT PAGE

(Note: Newseum doesn’t usually update the front pages until 0630 or so)

Today’s headlines include:

Local News

City eyesores
Ohio voters picking sides for Nov. 4
‘The scientist’ stays ‘signed in’
Changes welcome at block party
Very first Parkersburg Paddlefest goes well

Top Headlines Poll: Do you hunt deer for food or just the sport of it?

Great pictures of Marietta

What’s going on here

Previously

14 September 2014

FIGHT HOMOPHILY: GET AROUND MORE…

0700 by Jeff Hess

The faintly depressing human tendency to seek out and spend time with those most similar to us is known in social science as “homophily”, and it shapes our views, and our lives, in ways we’re barely aware of. It explains why, if you know the political positions of a person’s friends, you can predict their own with near certainty. It’s also why, say, creationists imagine that the debate over evolution is an active and unresolved one: in their social circles, it is. We long to have our opinions confirmed, not challenged, and thus, as the Harvard media researcher Ethan Zuckerman puts it, “Homophily causes ignorance.” (It also makes us more extreme, studies show: a group of conservatives, given the chance to discuss politics among themselves, will grow more conservative.) Even priding yourself on being open-minded is no defence if your natural, homophilic inclination is to hang out with other people like you, celebrating your love of diversity.

Oliver Burkeman writing in his column will change your life for The Guardian.

14 September 2014

RULE NO. 74: GAS STATIONS ARE FOR CARS…

0600 by Jeff Hess

Rule No. 74 – Don’t Get Your Fuel From the Same Place Your Car Does.

From Food Rules, an eater’s manual by Michael Pollan

Previously…

Found in my electronic chapbook. See also Eating Mindfully by Jan Chozen Bey.

14 September 2014

ME TOO, WALT… ME TOO…

0530 by Jeff Hess

zits 0700619 140914

14 September 2014

NOT THE (SUNDAY) MARIETTA TIMES…

0500 by Jeff Hess

TODAY’S PARKERSBURG NEWS AND SENTINEL FRONT PAGE

Today’s headlines include:

Local News

Block Party
Veterans walk helps student group
Tomblin filling $100M shortfall
New system to grade schools
GOP dinner speaker seen as a lighting rod

Top Headlines Poll: Would you purchase a device that prevented the passenger in front of you on an airplane from reclining his or her seat?

Great pictures of Marietta

What’s going on here

Previously

13 September 2014

DON’T WAIT UNTIL YOU WANT TO ACT…

0800 by Jeff Hess

“Don’t wait until you want to do something,” Fast writes, in possibly the single most useful productivity tip ever (it’s a close cousin of “motivation follows action”, mentioned here previously.) “Many people equate depression with the inability to work. In reality, the problem is often the inability to feel like working.” But it’s not just the depressed who fall for the notion that feeling motivated is a crucial precursor to doing something. To some degree, most of us believe this, and an entire industry – motivational books, speakers, articles – encourages the delusion. The “motivation” message is more insidious for being, in the short term, somewhat effective: right after reading a go-get-‘em book or watching some high-octane speaker, you really might feel “pumped”. But the long-term effect is to reinforce the idea that you need to be in this mood to take action.

Change your thoughts, we’re told, and you’ll change your emotions and thereby your life. Fast’s advice is just to act, without first demanding that your thoughts and feelings change. (Hint: do this and they probably soon will.) One of her downbeat but brilliant mantras for living is, “This will feel all wrong.” Someone should put that on a fridge magnet.

Oliver Burkeman writing in his column will change your life for The Guardian.

13 September 2014

I HAD A DREAM ONCE TOO, BUT

0730 by Jeff Hess

13 September 2014

TALENT IS AN INVENTION LIKE PHLOGISTON

0700 by Jeff Hess

Many people not only fail to become outstandingly good at what they do … they frequently don’t even get any better [at doing it] than they were when they started. — Geoff Colvin in Talent Is Overrated

This is an alarming state of affairs for anyone who wants to stay working in today’s competitive world. Tom’s work is full of great advice for countering this dilemma, but we regularly find our client audience full of “Yes, but…” responses. “I’m already too busy.” “I wouldn’t know where to start.” “Sadly, we just can’t afford it right now.” “My boss would go mad if he found out.” We brought up the “Yes, but…” conundrum in the last issue of the Tom Peters Times. Professor Larry Smith of the University of Waterloo, in one of the current Top 10 TEDx talks, gave an amusing litany of reasons/excuses in his TED talk for failing to have a great career.

We are dealing here with reversing the inexorable drag of established habits. Our inner gyroscope naturally steers us back to the familiar–—a place of equilibrium—–even if that place is starting to feel uncomfortable. The truth is that breaking a well-established habit is almost impossible for us humans to do—–just ask any fat smoker!

For those who are determined to break out of their straitjacket, can you establish a new routine of trying at least one scarily different thing each day? Or, if that is too tough for you at first, each week? Rather than saying “Yes, but…,” ask yourself instead, “How could I make this idea work?” and make doing it the subject of your next working lunch.

Many of our clients use the regular provocation of Tom’s weekly quotes as a source of new ideas for themselves and their businesses. Some of the resulting ideas stick and become new habits, and those that don‘t provide a stimulating diversion while they last!

Madeleine McGrath, Managing Director, Tom Peters Company writing in Try Something New.

Previously…

13 September 2014

OUR MOST TERRIFYING WORD: OOPS…!

0630 by Jeff Hess

As an enlisted man in the United States Navy I was directly responsible for the care of eight tactical nuclear missiles. I don’t know how the Air Force handles the mission, but I do know that any of the actions that Oliver mentions would have gotten me expelled from the program in a heart beat.

I have to wonder that recent stories regarding the infiltration of christianists into the Air Force, particularly at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, may be relevant in these horror stories.

One alternative would be flat-out incompetence, which might be the case, but I don’t want to accept that possibility.

13 September 2014

RULE NO. 73: EAT ONLY AT A TABLE…

0600 by Jeff Hess

Rule No. 73 – Do All Your Eating at a Table.

From Food Rules, an eater’s manual by Michael Pollan

Previously…

Found in my electronic chapbook. See also Eating Mindfully by Jan Chozen Bey.

13 September 2014

THE ESSENCE OF BEGINNER’S MIND IS…

0530 by Jeff Hess

zits 0700617 140913

13 September 2014

NOT THE MARIETTA TIMES

0500 by Jeff Hess

TODAY’S MARIETTA TIMES FRONT PAGE

Today’s headlines include:

Local News

GUILTY VERDICT
Empty and neglected properties have become a burden
Sentenced for drug trafficking
Local triathlon is in ninth year
Oak Grove Christian

Top Headlines Poll: Have you made a complaint about an abandoned property?

If anyone feels that an abandoned property affects their property value than complaining is a poor substitute for considering the underlying factors for that abandonment and then, acting as a member of the community, taking actions to address both the immediate need—the offending property—and those underlying factors, whatever they might be. JH

Great pictures of Marietta

What’s going on here

Previously

12 September 2014

DAN FROOMKIN ON LATEST MARCH TO WAR..

0900 by Jeff Hess

The Congressional Hyperbole Caucus

The Almost-Nonexistent Congressional Restraint Caucus

News Organizations Finally Realize Obama’s War Plan Is a Hot Mess

Was Obama Actually Asking Everyone To Chill?

12 September 2014

I LOVE MY ANCHOVIES…

0830 by Jeff Hess

anchovies 140912

I’ll be trying Anchoïade this weekend.

12 September 2014

OUR CONSTITUTION IS NOT A PIECE OF PAPER…

0800 by Jeff Hess

The Congress shall have Power To declare War —Section Article 1, Section 8.

The White House says Bush-era congressional authorizations for the war on al-Qaida and the Iraq invasion give President Barack Obama the legal backing to expand the fight against the Islamic State group without new approval from lawmakers under the 1973 War Powers Act.

That law, passed during the Vietnam War, serves as a constitutional check on presidential power to declare war without congressional consent. It requires presidents to notify Congress within 48 hours of military action and limits the use of military forces to no more than 60 days unless Congress authorizes force or declares war.

Critics say both authorizations provide shaky justification for Obama’s air campaign against the Islamic State militants. And as recently as last year, Obama said both measures were outdated and should be repealed.

The Associated Press in Can Obama start a war without consent of Congress? for The Guardian.

What actions are necessary to convince our elected members of Congress that they have a Constitutional obligation to stop passing the buck and vote up or down on this, and any future wars. Either declare war or shut down these adventures.

12 September 2014

COMING SOON TO YOUR CHILD’S SCHOOL…

0730 by Jeff Hess

mrap for schools 140912

12 September 2014

TIME FOR A BIT GERMINATION…

0700 by Jeff Hess

Tom continues to refine his ideas about how you can best put the Brand You concept into action in your professional life. His latest oeuvre is called Excellence. NO EXCUSES! and it contains several chapters that will give you ideas for giving your brand a boost. The first chapter we’ve chosen offers this nugget from Tom:

“Fact: You can take any damned attitude you choose to work today! (It’s your BLD/Biggest Life Decision.)”

For more seeds of change, read: Work On Me, Radical Personal Development, Hang Out and Rituals.

Previously…

12 September 2014

A BIT OF BRILLIANT SNARK…

0630 by Jeff Hess

obama isil 140912

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