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  • mono 11:03 am on March 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Exercises, , , , Problem Solving, ,   

    Conventional Wisdoms: An Exercise (#2) 

    It was a great challenge to think through Lee Thayer’s thoughts on “advice” and knowledge in the previous post (Figuring Out). Today, I would like to tackle his second “Brain Exercise,” and attempt to think through it and make it meaningful to myself and hopefully to you, the reader. The second exercise calls for us to carefully think about the following:

    “Conventional wisdoms always and inevitably produce conventional results. This means that if you perceive some problem or opportunity in a conventional way (just because that’s the way your mind works), you will come up with a conventional solution. But high performance, real achievement, is far from being the norm, far from being “conventional.” So the implication is that if you want to achieve extraordinary results, results that are not more or less “average,” then you have to produce those results out of some fairly unconventional wisdoms. … [Often such] perspectives … are counter-intuitive. That is, they run contrary to what most people already believe… always and inevitably …”

    What unconventional way(s) could we think through this idea that would lead us to a better, more beneficial way of thinking? What Thayer seems to be saying is that the more conventional your thinking, the more conventional the results will be by virtue of your being limited by the conventional ideas which you use. That is, if you seek change in your organization, and since it comes from the thinkers you have available to you (your “resources”), you best make sure that the wisdoms you are drawing off of are potent enough to lead your thinking in the direction of that desired change. However, if the members of your organization are bounded by a “conventional” way of thinking, then that change itself will be “conventional.” We are limited by our thinking capacities.

    Extraordinary (extra-ordinary) results come from one’s ability to think in ways that are not ordinary (conventional). The richer your mind, the richer the results of your thinking. If the stream of thinking in your or your competitor’s organization flows unchecked, then it will be that unchecked flow that will end up drowning your competitive edge. Thinking and questioning in counter-intuitive ways, having capable minds on hand will, on the other hand, provide critical power to your organization’s culture. Perhaps questioning conventionality and the conventions of your organization is the first step toward counter-intuitive problem solving?

    In this light, it would seem that questions and the ability to be a superior questioner, in light of your purpose and your ideals (the ideals of your organization), would be a most beneficial skill to develop (is there a more “unconventional” approach that I am overlooking?). That, and perhaps, developing the ability to decipher the useful and provocative wisdoms from the run-of-the-mill ideas that get pushed by the mass business press.

    Where would you look for the resources needed to become a skillful unconventional thinker? How does one begin to develop ab-normal strategies for high performance? What thinkers have colonized and influenced your (or your organization’s) mind? Where have they led you thus far? Can one be such a risk-taker in a conventionally-minded organization? What are the risks?

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  • mono 2:04 pm on October 21, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Exercises, Good Life, , , ,   

    Mindful Absorption: Fluidity and Mindfulness 

    Carl Rogers talks about “the fluid nature of the self.” But, how does one achieve such an awareness of the fluid nature of the self? Aside from my recent article, I will expand on a few key elements to this most elusive yet ordinary way of living, hopefully, moving us toward a better understanding of “fluidity” and, “mindfulness” in general.

    I think it is extremely important to, in moments of great concentration (of a task, a conversation, a lecture, cleaning the sink) allow yourself to be fully drawn into the situation at hand. The catch is that if you find yourself thinking about how you’re being drawn into the situation, the absorption in the task has ceased to be so. It’s like reading a book and suddenly realizing that you are reading a book. In doing so, you’ve temporarily lost the “story.” When you realize that you are reading a book, you cease to be engrossed in the story or the argument and start to think about other things (sometimes even as you eyes continue “reading”). When you are fully engaged in the book, you lose track of time and, at that moment, you are in the realm of the author. So, the first trick is to permit oneself to “let go” of analysis of the situation and permit oneself to be 100% “into” the situation.

    But, I want to clarify that “letting go” does NOT mean recklessly doing whatever you want to do regardless of the consequences. No, not at all. In fact, the opposite. It means “letting go” to the situation in such a way that you are “tuning in” to it more clearly and more in accord with what needs doing or what is being presented to you in the situation. Therefore, the teacher becomes a better listener and speaker, the police officer becomes more attentive to crime, the musician becomes better focused on the production of sound and so on. It is a kind of realistic alchemy for daily living.

    Whenever you are having a conversation with someone, you are absorbed in something greater than each individual word that you are saying. Becoming more mindful of what you say and how you say it could help you along your path – “letting go” and “tuning in.” In order to have a conversation, you must enter the flow of the words, while attending to the meaning – you do this automatically, for the most part. Learn to become a better speaker through the control and edification of the words that you use with others. It’s like the old Japanese Butoh-fu poem, “Balance chaos and control, like a calm rider on a stampeding horse.”

    For now, and for the sake of “blogging brevity”, I would advise that you do as many things as possible and in the doing of those things, do them well. More than “well”, do them to the very best of your ability. Become mindful of your limits and, if need be, work purposely to change those limits so that they are in accord with where you want them to be instead of where they are by “default.”

    I work with a seventy-year-old man who has told me on numerous occasions, that he “doesn’t have a future.” A common reaction to that line might be, “Oh, but you DO have a future. You’ll be around a long time. Don’t worry about it.” However, he is always smiling, attentive and jolly. He is smiling because, more important than having a future, he has a present. Each task he does, each conversation he has, has meaning for him NOW. He does what needs to be done and holds to the purpose of the now. Old age has taught him a lesson. Hopefully, when and if I am his age, I, too, will be as engrossed in the moment as he is. Nonetheless, with those of us, who absolutely must plan for upcoming goals or events in our life, the best way to handle them is with the recollection that what you are doing now is leading you somewhere and it is what you are doing now that is of utmost importance to the quality and control of your life. The question is: Is what you are doing now leading you where you most want to go? If not, you may want to re-evaulate the doing part of your life and change what or how you do things. Change what you are doing now and start leading yourself to the imagined destination that you dream of. Getting there will probably be more fun than arriving, anyway.

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    • zensquared 11:25 am on October 22, 2008 Permalink

      It’s really difficult to do as you are suggesting — but you’re right, it’s very important to make a great effort to live this way, with our full attention on what is in front of us. Your anecdote about the 70-year-old man is wonderful! If he frets about the future, he will be wasting the precious time he has right now. Right now! How often do we just throw that away?

    • jg 3:40 pm on October 22, 2008 Permalink

      Thank you, Zensquared, for the support.

      Another interesting thing to note about my co-worker, is that he is always very well-prepared, in good spirits and consistently productive – a master in the art of having a present.

      You may have already read it, but Alan Watts’s essay, “What on Earth are we doing?” from his book “Cloud Hidden, Whereabouts Unknown: A Mountain Journal” talks about savoring the present. Well worth reading.

    • zensquared 9:10 pm on October 23, 2008 Permalink

      Thanks, jg. I will look for that Alan Watts essay. I haven’t read anything by him yet, but my dharma teacher recommends him.

  • mono 6:40 pm on October 20, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alfred Korzybski, Attention, Butoh, , , Exercises, , , Peace, , , ,   

    20 Mindfulness Exercises for Improving Your Mental Hygiene 

    1. Become aware of your sitting, your clothes, the temperature and all that is “outside” of you now.

    2. Imagine you are not separate from the ground, but a living happening of the world. (from Butoh)

    3. Take a walk and open your ears to all of the sounds around you, experiencing them as they are.

    4. Listen to the drifting habitual patterns of your own inner voice; let it float by you and around you.

    5. Practice the art of stretching, using a book or guide that fits your needs and stretch daily.

    6. Thank the objects that you use for their continued help. (from Constructive Living)

    7. Practice saying a set amount of “thank you’s” on a daily basis to those around you. (from Constructive Living).

    8. Become the face of the others around you that you see and interact with.

    9. Clean your surroundings with complete attention to the task-at-hand.

    10. Learn an “art” or “craft” like playing music, painting, building, dancing, gardening and so on.

    11. Notice the colors that are surrounding you.

    12. Meditate on Korzybski’s quotation: “Whatever I say a thing is, it is not.”

    13. Allow yourself to completely savor the taste of what you eat and drink.

    14. Exercise and become aware of how your body changes. How did it change?

    15. Take into account the habitual movements and speech patterns that you use.

    16. For one day, listen to others more than you speak to others.

    17. For one day, control your use of the word “is.” (from Aleister Crowley)

    18. Do a familiar task with your eyes closed, noticing the sensory change (from Constructive Living)

    19. Focus on the ways in which “you” are embedded in your surroundings.

    20. Fully engage yourself with tasks, people and objects that are meaningful to you.

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    • Johnny Unicorn 12:51 am on October 21, 2008 Permalink

      One of my favorites is number 13. I would expand on it: Smell and try to recognize every ingredient in the food you eat before each bite.

    • jgrefe 6:57 am on October 21, 2008 Permalink

      Johnny, I didn’t focus on “smell” at all. Thank you for your input. I’ll have to try your suggestion. If you have any more, please let me know. I think one could almost make a separate “mindfulness” list strictly focusing on music (playing/listening). I’ll work on this list.

    • Pella Verbati 5:00 am on March 23, 2009 Permalink

      very useful

    • nictos 10:18 am on March 24, 2009 Permalink

      Thank you. These are excellent tools for living.

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