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Daniel Durrant
Content Strategist
Content Strategist
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Ditch deadlines for optimal creativity and insight

"[I]nsight is unconscious and automatic — it can’t be rushed.

"When the process runs to completion in its own time and all the dots are connected unconsciously, the solution pops into awareness as an Aha! moment."
. . .
"The conclusions come from a series of experiments in which people had to solve puzzles that required flashes of insight."
. . .
"Deadlines are helpful to keep people on task, but if creative ideas are needed, it’s better to have a soft target date."

The study was published in the journal Thinking & Reasoning (Salvi et al., 2016).

#Creativity #Insight #psychology #mind hT +Michael Josefowicz

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Language and music meet at the neural crossroads

Fascinating.

"Language and music appear to be fundamentally more alike than you might think. A word in a sentence derives its meaning from the context. The same applies to a tone in a chord sequence or a piece of music. Language and music share the same brain region [known as Broca’s area] to create order in both processes: arranging words in a sentence and arranging tones in a chord sequence. Reading and listening at the same time overload the capacity of this brain region, known as Broca’s area, which is located somewhere under your left temple."

#language #music #reading   #cognition   #neuroscience

HT +Giorgio Bertini +Michael Josefowicz 

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Language is literally "a reef of dead metaphor"

This author makes some great points about the use (and misuse) of "literally," reminding us that so much of the language we use to communicate has 'roots' in metaphor.

"When we’re being figurative, we say “it was a million miles away”, meaning “I walked for hours.” When we’re being literal, a million miles away is somewhere between the moon and Mars."
. . .
"Guy Deutscher, a linguist at the University of Manchester, calls all language “a reef of dead metaphor”. Most of the time we do not realise that nearly every word that comes out of our mouths has made some kind of jump from older, concrete meanings to the ones we use today. This process is simple language change. Yesterday’s metaphors become so common that today we don’t process them as metaphors at all."

#metaphor #communication #language

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Professional mind maintenance 

Excellent lines of inquiry into the value of #mindfulness in the workplace. Worth the full read.  H/T +John Kellden 

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Organizations Within

"[E]ach employee has a whole version of the organization within themselves. While employees are parts of the system objectively, they also embody a system. In other words, any one person from the CEO to the front-line employee, holds within themselves a version of the whole organization. However expansive or limited, that representation is formed of their understandings, associations, experiences, and everyday dealings with others. We posit that these ‘inner organizations’ — when understood in combination — are the most real expression of the organization that one can locate. An organization is best understood through the aggregate levels of human experience. These are the organizational ecosystems.

"In this way, there are no organizational structures, but only practices which, overtime, coalesce into the feeling of a structure through repetition. Thus the most vital intervention into an organization is through these ‘inner organizations’ — and that happens from the inside-out."

#BuildResilience #wellbeing #HumanResources

HT +Inma VP

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Going Meta

"Psychologists and educational researchers, for example, stress how metacognition — the awareness and understanding of one’s own thought processes — is integral to enhanced learning and better decisions. Rigorous “thinking about thinking” boosts cognitive capabilities, and framing business competences and aspirations in meta-context invites ingenuity around their fundamentals."
. . .
"Here’s an example: At a professional services firm rolling out KPI dashboards, a breakthrough came when a cross-functional design group and IT considered creating a KPI dashboard to manage KPI dashboards. What literally began as joking comments about “dashboard management” turned into creative debates around designing “master dashboards.” How could disparate KPIs be effectively aggregated and synthesized across the enterprise?

That macro-perspective fundamentally altered the mission. Designing KPI dashboards for KPI dashboards transformed how the team perceived its opportunity to impact top management, as well as individual users."

#DriveInnovation #DecisionMaking #leadership #metacognition 

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Defensive Pessimism

"[S]cientists don’t necessarily find virtue in pure, unadulterated pessimism. Rather, they find benefits in what they call “defensive pessimism.” This is a strategy, as summarized by The Wall Street Journal, where people "lower their expectations and think through all the possible negatives that could happen in order to avoid them.” Frieder R. Lang, author of the Psychology & Aging study mentioned above, told WSJ, “Those who are defensively pessimistic about their future may be more likely to invest in preparatory or precautionary measures, whereas we expect that optimists will not be thinking about those things.”

#ReduceRisk #DecisionMaking #psychology

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Rationality of Mindfulness

"The idea of becoming “one with it” sounds exotic and mystical, but it really means to accept [the emotion], and this is as much a rational process as a mindful one. Often, before we can deal more rationally with our stressors, we first need to un-stress about being stressed. We get anxious about our anxiety, get angry at ourselves for getting angry at someone else, or we simply try to shove our emotion into the dark, denying it all together."
. . .
"Once we recognize it and accept it, we are already beginning the process of calming the set of feelings and fabrications that make up the emotion. As we observe the flow of thoughts, sensations, etc. that we identify as “anger” or “anxiety,” we begin to let them slow down and settle. Then, finally, we can let it go.

"Afterward, or if the emotion continues to arise, we can do what Thich Nhat Hanh calls "looking deeply” into the emotion. We ask ourselves, “What is this emotion?” and begin to look for its cause. Invariably, the cause originates in our view of the world—as an aspect of our view that is not in harmony with reality."

#mindfulness #emotions #psychology

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Cognitive Overload & The Focus Movement

The author describes cognitive overload as "one of the most insidious, productivity-sapping maladies afflicting today's managers."

"Some chief executive clients of Icebreaker had banked up to 70,000--yes, 70,000--unread messages."
. .  .
"Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine, says a worker distracted by something like a Web search gone wild or a new text popping up on the phone can take about 25 minutes to return to the task at hand."
. . . 
" At Google, employees take courses that help sharpen attention skills. At smaller companies such as Zumba and Box, the founders have devised their own methods, including putting aside large blocks of time to reflect, far from the madding crowd."
. . .
"Why is focus so important to success? Academics such as Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel say the best way to understand your competition, learn from your employees, chart a long-term strategy, or innovate is to have the mental discipline to home in on what really matters to your business. Only by intensely concentrating can you link new ideas and facts "meaningfully and systematically with knowledge already well established in memory," Kandel writes in his 2006 book In Search of Memory. Simply put, if you have the presence of mind to absorb new data, trends, and events -- and then synthesize them with what you already know -- you will be more likely to formulate the breakthrough idea."
. . .
"In his latest book, Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, [psychologist Daniel] Goleman explores why people become distracted in the first place. In layman's terms, he explains that the prefrontal cortex of our brain, the outer layer that controls your executive functions--concentrating, planning, and synthesizing--is in a constant tug-of-war with the deeper, more atavistic sector where your impulses arise."
. . . 
"One approach to improve your concentration, says Goleman, is to make yourself aware of the three basic types of focus you apply from time to time: inner, other, and outer. Inner focus is the ability to listen to your deepest self, your "true north." Who are you, what are your values, why are you doing the work you're doing?"
. . .
"Entrepreneurship professor Steve Blank, who teaches at Columbia, Stanford, and Berkeley and has co-founded four Silicon Valley startups, including MIPS Technologies, says Goleman's framework is perfect for entrepreneurs. Blank says leaders who can focus inwardly have a competitive advantage: They can function in turmoil--like great generals who can see through the fog of battle. "When a company is young and growing, it can be chaotic. In the same way, a good general knows a battle never goes according to plan so he needs to have the composure and focus to do triage in real time.""

#TodaysChallenges #Managers #BuildResilience
#leadership #overload 
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