being multilingual

The art of persuasion requires a balance of individualistic traits and audience-dependent communication tactics. You are who you are. Your listeners (and/or readers) are who they are. The transfer of knowledge and sentiment is optimized only when those characteristics and qualities meet in the middle.

The cultural diversity of our world is amazing. At the simplest level, I’m envious of those fortunate to have been able to grow up learning multiple languages, customs, and behaviors. Being multilingual, in the traditional sense, is an truly desirable quality that could bring a high level of social opportunity to an individual.

But being multilingual does not just mean speaking more than one language. Being multilingual means to be able to dynamically adapt your voice to any audience to optimize understanding, induce thought, and drive action. This quality of being multilingual is just as valuable in today’s society as it is to be multilingual in the traditional sense.

In the latest issue of Wired magazine, Clive Thompson writes about “The New Literacy”. He talks about how many people think kids can no longer write. But in his mind (and my mind as well) other factors have changed what it means to listen, comprehend, and be persuaded.

“The reality is just that the paradigm has shifted” he says. “What today’s young people know is that knowing who you’re writing for and why you’re writing might be the most crucial factor of all.”

It’s called Kairos – “assessing audience and adapting tone and technique to best get a point across”. It’s not a new concept, but certainly continuing to be a most desirable trait in our accelerating world. Much of that acceleration can be attributed to the development of our handy communication devices and, more specifically, social media technologies. Our personal ratio of consumed information bits per unit of time has exploded because of the new mechanisms by which all that information can get to us. In a sense, modern technology has enabled a new understanding of speaker-audience relationships. It has driven a new balance of the effectiveness of a particular message and the efficiency with which that message can be delivered.

“Technology isn’t killing our ability to write. It’s reviving it – and pushing our literacy in bold new directions.”


So what are some takeaways? Again, it’s important to be who you are in any speaking/writing environment. You are who you are and that’s important to maintain. However, you must also adapt your communicative approach based on your readers and/or listeners. Use the right tone, tactics, and now, technologies to convey your point (3-T Kairos). Learn to balance effectiveness with the efficiency of delivery.

In the end, we all have goals of a message: Do-outs, takeaways, new thoughts, new understanding, business decisions, relationship formation, topic persuasion, product promotion, ideal alignment, etc. We have many tools at our disposal: our posture, hands, facial expressions, sounds, volume, speed, pauses, colors, punctuation, vocabulary, the internet, social media apps, visualization technologies, our experiences, our ambitions, our uniqueness, etc. Find the best combination of tools to fit the goals and you’re in a good place to succeed.

one minute for happiness

There are 1,440 minutes in a day. All it takes to make a difference is just one of those. One minute. That’s all it takes to make someone change their state of mind. One minute. That’s all it takes to make happiness contagious…

One minute. That’s all it takes.

One minute represents approximately 0.07% or about a fourteenth of a percent of the entire day. What else does it represent?

  • The time it takes to brush your teeth.
  • The time it takes to sing a national anthem.
  • The time it takes to check the weather.
  • The time it takes to heat up leftovers.
  • The time it takes to download and install Firefox.
  • The time it takes to write the Schrödinger equation, twice.
  • The time it takes to build a Jenga tower.
  • The time it takes to take out cash at the ATM.
  • The time it takes to pump gas.
  • The time it takes to derive any non-relativistic, Newtonian equation of motion.
  • The time it takes to chug 2 sodas.
  • The time it takes a space shuttle to go about 300 miles when in orbit.
  • The time it takes to make a sandwich.
  • The time it takes to take your temperature.
  • The time it takes to stretch your hamstrings.
  • The time it takes to watch two commercials.

Okay so I got a little carried away with that one. But that’s a good creativity exercise! Anyways, it really does put into perspective what you can do with a minute of time. So if you could take one minute each day and devote it to making someone else happy, could you do it?

Happiness is truly contagious. You see a man smiling on the bus and it makes you happy. An elderly woman making a wise crack about the speed of her shopping cart in the condiments section and you’re chuckled (that happened yesterday). Two people hugging on the street and you feel a rush of comfort. And that’s the funny thing: happiness comes in such simple forms. It doesn’t take money or success or fame or victory but just a simple act of kindness, show of emotion, compliment, or generally positive vibe.

With that I do want to be clear of one thing. Happiness is not always something gained or transmitted through external means, but on some days that minute is surely well spent through internal reflection and thought. That’s not selfish – that’s normal. But in a balanced world what you take is what you should give – double the amount you give back the next day.

So obviously transmissible happiness can be for yourself or for someone else, for a group of people, for a company, for a stranger, for an imaginative thought, for a spiritual state, etc. So what are some examples of transmission routes?

  • Make a phone call or send an email.
  • Give feedback on a paper, post, product, service.
  • Offer directions to someone lost.
  • Read an article and write your thoughts.
  • Carry something.
  • Smile at a stranger.
  • Give up your seat.
  • Laugh at yourself.
  • Double your tip.
  • Doodle.

The constant transmission and contagiousness of happiness. Mathematically, that makes me think of epidemic models. Well, that’s not far off. I’d propose that happiness could easily follow a modified epidemic model:

S = Susceptible = those who aren’t aware of how contagious it is
E = Exposed = those infected but keeping it internal
I = Infected = those hit by the smiling bug and actively passing it along
Standard Contact Rate (Susceptible –> Infected/Exposed) = 1 per day

Everyone starts as Susceptible, and the Exposed and Infected can toggle as they generate happiness internally some days and expose others the next day. You could take into account the doubling of internal happiness to double the Contact Rate on a subsequent day for the Exposed group. A new Susceptible population would emerge each day through birth, and most everyone would die happy. A pretty fun, dynamic model of happiness transmission.

Note: If happiness started with one person and simply doubled each day, it would only take a little over a month to infect or expose happiness to the entire global population (obviously ignoring geographic and other constraints).

In the end, my main point is that you can do something every single day to create happiness, and the mechanisms by which you can create happiness are very simple ones. It only takes one minute each day to give that purest gift of all. Because with a heart and a smile, the world’s happiness is truly in the palm of your hands.


Quotes/Links

  • “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence” – Aristotle
  • “Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” – Buddha
  • “Happiness always looks small while you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and you learn at once how big and precious it is.” – Maxim Gorky
  • The Happiness Epidemic – by David Hernandez
  • Bhutan and the measuring of quality of life through Gross National Happiness

thick skin

“Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” We’ve all heard that one before and it’s just not true. We are humans – words can hurt us and will hurt us at times. But in order to learn as an individual, to grow as an organization, and to advance as a society, it’s imperative that we know how to properly deal with criticism.

Criticism will come at us from every dimension of life, for the rest of our lives. Sports, school, work, writing, speaking, conversing, cooking, dreaming, loving, running, designing, singing, drawing… well, you get the point. Recognizing the many faces of criticism is the first step in developing thick skin.

Once you’ve recognized it, how can you analyze it? Well to start, there are some simple questions to ask:

  • Who is giving the criticism?
  • What is the nature of and motivation behind the criticism?
  • It the criticism valid?
  • How can I benefit from the criticism?
  • What is the optimal response to the criticism?

The goal is to maintain composure and to address criticism properly. Thick skin still let’s you sweat. Always keep your cool and address criticism with your mind, not with your emotions. Creating anger from internalization of critiques will never be beneficial.

A technique I use for many problems I face is a mathematical construct that involves breaking the problem into its simplest components and then strategically attacking each one. The same construct applies to any type of critique whether personal or professional. Break it down to its underlying motives, objectives, validity, and logic, and derive the proper response and lessons learned.

Lastly, learn to think about others. Don’t be quick to blame someone or to simply deflect criticism because that’s the easy thing to do. Don’t be quick to retaliate with criticism of your own. Think about who is giving the criticism, who the other players are, and how you can optimize your own self without being selfish.

So to summarize, what does having thick skin entail?

  • You need to be able to take shots.
  • Stay on your feet and stay balanced.
  • Do not internalize rejection.
  • Understand the genetic makeup of criticism.
  • Think about others.

Grow thick skin. It will make you a great leader, a great colleague, and a great friend.

Quotes

  • “Taking shots builds stronger armor.” – Me
  • “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” – Harry S. Truman
  • “Living well is the best revenge.” – George Herbert
  • “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
  • “Inner strength shows itself not when the world is praising you but when others are critical.” – Gabriela Cora

Links

Learning to Develop a Thick Skin: Don’t take things personally, don’t let others get to you, remember that everyone gets rejected sometimes, learn to counterpropose when things don’t go your way, learn to meet in the middle, don’t hesitate to unstick sticky situations, don’t be self focused, stop the self-talk, don’t worry about looking stupid, learn to be patient, don’t be quick to blame, think about others

Developing a Thick Skin (from a writer)

Developing a Thick Skin (in IT)

How to Develop a Thick Skin (eHow): Face your fears, never let them see you sweat, continue to improve, stay busy, stay positive and surround yourself with positive people

on creativity

Overview


It’s imperative that curriculums (especially for early education) are built on more than just core subject matter. They also need to be strongly founded upon core ideals, values, and principles. The teaching of such values (although much harder to guide, manage, and track) is absolutely essential to the intellectual growth and prosperity of emerging generations.
What values are most important to push early in a child’s development? Honesty & trust. Altruism & empathy. Individuality & originality. Happiness & humor. Confidence & faith. Creativity & innovation. Innovation & creativity. Creativity!

I’ve posted about holistic education before and creativity is one of the three main pillars of such education – It’s seen in the SunWALK model of holistic education as “one of the three intrapersonal ‘primary colours’ or modes of engagement, of the human spirit, that are utilized in facing, individually and interpersonally, progressively more challenging tasks to nurture the development of abilities.”

Creativity is essential to the development of other abilities and the fundamental ability to engage/interact with people, nature, and the world in which we live. It’s from creativity that the purest dreams and ideas are born.

Definitions


So how is creativity defined? Let’s look…

Wikipedia: “Creativity is a mental and social process involving the generation of new ideas or concepts, or new associations of the creative mind between existing ideas or concepts. Creativity is fueled by the process of either conscious or unconscious insight.”

Children’s Health Encyclopedia: “Creativity is the ability to think up and design new inventions, produce works of art, solve problems in new ways, or develop an idea based on an original, novel, or unconventional approach.”

Some more definitions can be found at a great post by Dr. Leslie Owen Wilson of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point “On Defining Creativity”.

It’s important to note that creativity and intelligence are not synonymous. There are plenty of studies addressing possible correlation between IQ and creativity, but the main point is that with a positive surrounding environment and culture, we must believe creativity can exist in any individual of any level of intelligence.

Qualities

  • Impulsivity and spontaneity – Just do it! / Just think it!
  • Nonconformity (not going with the majority) – Stray from the beaten path.
  • Courage – Naturally be unafraid of trying new things.
  • Self-Confidence – Have no susceptibility to peer pressure.
  • Persistence – Learn when to maintain thoughts or set thoughts aside.
  • Balance – Convergent / divergent thinking – Learn to hypothesize, speculate, and evaluate multiple conclusions while reserving the ability to logically find and support a single conclusion.
  • The “One Brain” Concept – Right brain thinking and left brain thinking together are the best engine of creativity.
Some Take-Aways

  • Need to create good inner resources in children. Multi-dimensionality is key.
  • Give children an active role in their own learning.
  • Educators need to be aware of the “blocks to creativity” or things that can interfere with it. SunWALK says there are two types of blocks: Environmental (the lack of a motivating physical surrounding, trustworthy acquaintances, or positive leadership) and Cultural (the fear of making bad choices, lack of an appetite for chaos, and the general lack of enthusiasm). It should be noted that the positive case of “blocks” would be that Environment and Culture become “enablers” of creativity.
  • In order to foster creativity in schools, education should be based on the discovery of knowledge and the development of critical attitudes, rather than on the passive absorption of knowledge.

Simple Creativity Exercises

  1. Spell all the letters of the alphabet using letters other than the one you are spelling. Now try it without using any vowels. CAY-YII-FEE-EYE-EHDT (that ‘N’ was very hard)
  2. Draw an adjective, act a noun, describe a verb.
  3. Create an equation that has never before been created. Describe its elements, fundamentals, and purpose.
  4. Contemplate a newly-shaped earth. What would a cubed earth be like? What if the world really was flat? How would business, transportation, politics, weather, etc change?

Quotes

  • “Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.” – Erich Fromm
  • “The world is but a canvas to the imagination.” – Henry David Thoreau
  • “Creativity is the ability to see relationships where none exist.” — Thomas Disch
  • “Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” — Mary Lou Cook
  • “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” — Maya Angelou
  • “To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” — Joseph Chilton Pierce
  • “Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.” — Goethe
  • “To be creative means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it.” –Osho
  • “We will discover the nature of our particular genius when we stop trying to conform to our own and other’s people’s models, learn to be ourselves and allow our natural channel to open.” — Shakti Gawain
  • “Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.” – Einstein
  • “Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.” – George Bernard Shaw

find a voice

find a voice that makes you loud
for those refusing to hear
a voice that binds the friends you find
with those that aren’t quite so dear

find a voice that makes you proud
to shout out the feelings within
a voice that’s strong and never wrong
expression is always a win

find a voice that sets the tone
for those that walk by your side
a voice that carries a friend in need
or a stranger who’s trying to hide

find a voice that makes you known
to those not wanting to learn
the echoes will carry, the thoughts will remain
a flame that forever will burn

aspiration pathways

First of all, I believe that you should never grow up. Never. Be a kid at heart, always. Age is just a reference point and should not characterize who you are. Sure it identifies how long ago you were born, but not your level of maturity, your accomplishments, or your potential.
That being said, it’s funny to see how one has changed over time. Many times, the first question you are asked as a kid is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I’m sure I’ve had some pretty crazy answers, some that stretched my mind and some that were just meant to make my parents mad. Omitting some (astronaut, inventor, game show host, chef) here are some of my job desires as they have changed over time.
You’ll see doctor was in late high school and early college, then disappeared quickly. Fireman has lingered since the local fire captain (Mr. Fioretti) had me demo stop, drop, & roll in kindergarten. Athlete took a natural parabolic trip through adolescence and tailed into my twenties. Ruler of the world was on an obvious decline since conception as more and more barriers to that role popped up. Professor has been on a steady incline, as is being an educator of any kind. And with that, being an adsideologist skyrocketed early in college as I truly hope I can spend the rest of my life helping others learn and gain a comfortable understanding of life and the world.
It’s also interesting to find the ages at which the most paths changed, and where the paths changed the most. College was obviously a pretty turbulent time regarding aspirations, as it probably was for most who have gone through it. Steep slopes and frequent intersections of these aspiration pathways. A great thing perhaps, as the times of greatest change can be the most valuable learning experience.
So how about you? What do your aspiration pathways look like?

on complements

I’m a firm believer in complements – things coupled together, whether the relationship is apparent or not. This may not be a universal attribute, and I’m not stating it is. It’s also not limited to pairs, as complements are not two-dimensional. However, it’s a positive philosophical exercise to try and find symmetry where it may not exist so clearly, and it can certainly open up the mind beyond everyday theoretical boundaries. (1)

When I mean complements, I mean things that go together, complete each other, and make a whole. Some pairs may be opposites, yes, but complements are not two puzzle pieces forming a circle. Think of complements as spherical yins and yangs with a bunch of inner overlap.

So where can I start? How about a list of some pairs…

Characteristics – qualitative & quantitative, forward-thinking & retrospective, introverted & extroverted, hand-on & on-paper, leader & follower
Colors – black & white, light & dark, blue & orange, red & green
Words – stop & go, you & me, here & there, near & far, always & forever, mine & yours
Sounds – wind & calm, scream & whisper, ooh & ahh
Feelings – love & happiness, celebration & mourning, happy & sad, anxious & patient
Food – sweet & sour, harsh & smooth, rosemary & thyme, parmesan & romano, spaghetti & meatballs, peppers & onions, steak & wine
Partners – Jordan & Pippen, May & Walsh, Mario & Luigi, Robinson & Rodman (best NBA Jam duo), Brin & Page, Jerry & George

I believe symmetry and balance in nature is good. Breaking from that balance is also good and it’s usually is a driver of innovation, conversation, and collaboration.
Complementary teamwork is essential to making things work. The recognition of individual contributions to a team allow the spherical shape to form where overlaps provide the fuel to reaching a common end goal.

The same applies to relationships. Not one person can drive a couple to a life of love & happiness. It takes two (baby). That’s what makes couples so fun. People need other people. Not one person is a sphere but he or she needs to find a complement to build that sphere together. Sure the overlaps can create disagreement, but the result should be a more dense and stronger bond.

Well, I know I’m no Poe but I hope there is an adsideological takeaway here. Think about complements. Not everything you see, touch, or hear exists independently. Recognize individual contributions as one piece of a spherical success engine. And find your complement and don’t hesitate to make it permanent. Love & happiness will always follow.

(1) I do think the arguments made against the Qur’an on this topic are a bit absurd and biased. In some distant corner of the web-o-sphere there lies an argument that the Qur’an is wrong in stating everything exists in pairs. Not only do I think this is an invalid point of attack on a religious body, but the approach loses credibility with a lack of objectivity. One main argument is with gravity and that there is no counterpart. Well what a worldly view that is! Despite my love for the depths of physics, it still describes less than 1% of the universe. Pairs don’t equal opposites, and I know that I’ve walked on the ceiling in some of my dreams.

balancing education

Holistic education is a philosophy of education based on the premise that each person finds identity, meaning, and purpose in life through connections to the community, to the natural world, and to spiritual values such as compassion and peace. Holistic education aims to call forth from people an intrinsic reverence for life and a passionate love of learning.” 

– Ron Miller, founder of the journal “Encounter: Education for Meaning and Social Justice”

In my post titled “adsideology 2 and the one brain” I talk about the rise in interdisciplinary subjects and departments in higher education, and the need for the same in the K-12 educational system. Driving “thought mixtures” at an earlier age begins to weld the foundations of math, english, history, etc. while expanding the intellectual capacity of individuals at a young, developmental stage. Making connections for a new perspective of the world will better position the individual and those around the individual to find meaning, value, and purpose in life.

I think that’s why there needs to be a more balanced educational system. I’m not getting into the politics, inefficiencies, and the educational and opportunistic gaps that currently exist throughout the world, but am sticking to the foundation of education systems in general for now. Holistic education involves an understanding that self-actualization and the development of one’s character comes through different means and speeds. The grade number doesn’t matter, but building upon yesterday and striving for a better tomorrow does.

There needs to be more holistic education in the developmental years. The current K-12 education system emphasizes the teaching of facts, rules, skills, and discipline. However, it is missing the necessary methods of transformative learning and experiential learning. Sure, plenty of schools these days act as a community and teach about human interaction. But too much focus is on subject pillars and meeting quantifiable goals. The verticals, although important, need to be connected with horizontal layers of experience that encompass the facts and skills learned in the classroom. More emphasis should be put in teaching compassion, peace, self-respect, self-esteem, and community involvement. In my post titled “wearing other people’s shoes” I talk a bit about transformative learning and why that’s important for personal growth. A change in perspective can sometimes make all the difference, and that notion should be introduced at a young age.
I want to make it clear that holistic education is just one approach to a very large issue in education but by no means is the solution. The solution involves a balance in educational concepts and methods, and this balance should be institutionalized in the school system. A mesh of traditional, holistic, and other educational approaches is more dynamic. This allows for optimization of resources and methods for each individual student.
In the end, it’s the experiences and the relationships that make us who we are. It’s who and what we impact, not what we know. Understanding this at the earliest age will most certainly result in a life of significance, personal happiness, and community prosperity.
“Good grades show you’ve done your work; great deeds show you’ve learned your lessons.”
-Me
i. Top picture is the SunWALK pedagogical model of holistic education, by Dr. Roger Prentice. 
Arts, Science, Humanities + Creativity, Criticality, Caring.
ii. Bottom picture is from a Wake Alternative Break (WAB) trip I led in Spring 2005 to Virginia Beach. We were fortunate to work with the local parks & rec dept to clean up some parks and tutor in a local school. Good times.

wearing other people’s shoes

It’s just as easy to get tunnel vision as it is to be blinded by the light. And most of the time, these metaphors hit us hand-in-hand. That’s why it’s imperative that we find a way to step back from the lives we live and experience the minds and lives of others. We all need to live in perspective of neighbors, a community, a country, a world, a universe, and beyond – the positive impact on health, compassion, and a greater good are infinitely realizable.

I find myself stuck in my own head quite often. Not that my cognition has devilish control over my body and soul, but I frequently think about my life, my goals, my history, my future, my lunch, my finances, my vision, my health, my hobbies,… well, you get the point. That tunnel vision not only limits my knowledge of and interaction with the outside world, but also puts me in a dangerous position to hit a one-way mental road block. I can only find opportunity to avoid that road block if I create the highways, byways, and multi-directional pathways through which I can creatively navigate.

Adsideology encapsulates that notion of universalism – that most concepts are applicable to all people. This isn’t an all-encompassing theory by any means, but rather a concept of wearing other people’s shoes. I exist as does the person next to me, and I make decisions as does the person next to him or her. My life exists not in a vacuum, but in alignment with the lives of billions of others. We all have obstacles and achievements, goals and passions, ups and downs. The realization of all those other feelings helps contextualize the life I live and it’s not until I am standing in someone else’s shoes that I can more clearly see the footprints that I am making. Lose the tunnel vision, blind yourself with compassion, and jump in someone else’s shoes – you’ll be a better person for doing so.

adsideology 2 and the one brain

At the intersection of science, religion, politics, and philosophy you’ll find some quality, creative thought. I find it interesting that there exist discrete boundaries between these subjects, although these boundaries have traditionally existed between all subjects. That being said, over the past several years it’s clear that many major universities are fuzzifying these boundaries through interdisciplinary departments, research positions, and classes. This is necessary to weld together the right brains of new experts and forward thinkers around the world (with, of course, the logistical, process-oriented, left-directed thinkers that still power much of our world). Let’s call it the One Brain concept – similar to the One Medicine, One World, One Nation, and other Onenessisms developed in recent times.

Adsideology is very much a One Brain idea. It’s not a religion, it’s not a science, it’s not a political belief, and it’s not a personal stance. It’s just a concept that brings together a lot of thoughts and ideas that make me happy and healthy as a human being. With that in mind, I hope to share my thoughts in an effort to drive positive, creative thought in you, hopefully resulting in the same happiness and health that I see in my life.

Back to the fuzzification of subject boundaries, there does need to be more of an effort to drive interdisciplinary thought at a younger age. College classes in “Physics and Philosophy” are certainly good, but those types of thought mixtures need to occur at an earlier age. As the right-brain world emerges as the driver of disruptive technologies, innovative thinking, and new creative logic, this direction should be fostered in early developmental stages of life – in school, at home, at church, on tv, in music, through art, at dinner, and everywhere your one big brain may venture.

I’ll leave you with a poem written by Piet Hein who was a Danish mathematician, physicist, philosopher, writer and creator of puzzles and games:

The Paradox of Life:

A bit beyond perception’s reach
I sometimes believe I see
that Life is two locked boxes, each
containing the other’s key.