I was in Boston to teach on the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation EMP (Entrepreneurial Masters Program) this week. MIT Endicott House is one of the most beautiful locations for leadership retreats and programs. I brought my drone to capture the scenery around the main buildings. You’ll see the drone shots right at the beginning of the video below.
Why Do We Need to Clarify our Purpose?
Dandapani was one of the speakers at the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Masters Program event this week at MIT Endicott House, outside of Boston. Dandapani spent 10 years as a Hindu monk, meditating with his guru on the purpose of his life.
Dandapani spoke about the importance of consciously deciding what is important and what is not important in your life. Why?
A short story from the mountains about how removing drag can be more effective than increasing power. Many times we could improve our life by cleaning up the things we do that actively damage ourselves: eating poorly, drinking too much, complaining, remaining angry, holding grudges, positioning myself as a victim.
“An artist never finishes a work, he abandons it.”
I thrive on interaction. This blog gives me a short term feedback as I write. I can hit publish after 15 to 20 minutes and immediately get responses.
I’ve consistently failed to write a book because I am addicted to the short term feedback of blog comments, of emails, of youtube videos… I’ve never been able to commit to the 3 year process of writing without “likes” and comments.
The question for me: is it still important to me to write a book?
In his TED talk, Stephen Duneier explains that what defines him are not titles, but an approach to decision making that transformed him from someone who struggled with simple tasks to a guy who is continuously achieving even his most ambitious dreams.
For thirty years, he has applied cognitive science to investing, business and life. The result has been the turnaround of numerous institutional businesses, career best returns for managers who have adopted his methods, the development of a $1.25 billion dollar hedge fund and a rapidly shrinking bucket list.
“Every one of my report cards basically said the same thing: Steven is a very bright young boy, if only he would just settle down and focus.”
“What they didn’t realize was I wanted that even more than they wanted it for me, I just couldn’t. And so, from kindergarten straight through the 2nd year of college, I was a really consistent C, C- student. But then going into my junior year, I’d had enough. I thought I want to make a change. I’m going to make a marginal adjustment, and I’m going to stop being a spectator of my decision-making and start becoming an active participant.”
“And so, that year, instead of pretending, again, that I would suddenly be able to settle down and focus on things for more than five or ten minutes at a time, I decided to assume I wouldn’t. And so, if I wanted to achieve the type of outcome that I desire – doing well in school – I was going to actually have to change my approach. And so I made a marginal adjustment. If I would get an assignment, let’s say, read five chapters in a book, I wouldn’t think of it as five chapters, I wouldn’t even think of it as one chapter. I would break it down into these tasks that I could achieve, that would require me to focus for just five or ten minutes at a time. So, maybe three or four paragraphs. That’s it.”
“I would do that and when I was done with those five or ten minutes, I would get up. I’d go shoot some hoops, do a little drawing, maybe play video games for a few minutes, and then I come back. Not necessarily to the same assignment, not even necessarily to the same subject, but just to another task that required just five to ten minutes of my attention. From that point forward, all the way through to graduation, I was a straight-A student, Dean’s List, President’s Honor Roll, every semester.”
“I then went on to one of the top graduate programs in the world for finance and economics. Same approach, same results. So then, I graduate. I start my career and I’m thinking, this worked really well for me. You know, you take these big concepts, these complex ideas, these big assignments, you break them down too much more manageable tasks, and then along the way, you make a marginal improvement to the process that ups the odds of success in your favor. I’m going to try and do this in my career. So I did. I started out as an exotic derivatives trader for credit Swiss. It then led me to be global head of currency option trading for Bank of America”
Mr. Duneier teaches graduate courses on Decision Analysis in UCSB’s College of Engineering. His book, AlphaBrain is due for release in early 2017 from Wiley & Sons. Through Bija Advisors, he helps business leaders improve performance by applying proven, proprietary decision-making methods to their own processes. His artwork has been featured around the world and is represented by the Sullivan Goss Gallery. As Commissioner of the League of Professional Educators, Duneier is using cognitive science to alter the landscape of American education. He is the former Head of Currency Option Trading at Bank of America and Emerging Markets at AIG International.
The good life is choosing to go beyond mere survival. Survival comes in the genes. We are automated to eat, breath and procreate. This is not living the good life.
The good life is a daily intentional choice to flourish. We can develop to the full the best of our strengths and bring the worst of our weaknesses under disciplined control.
The ABCs of living the Good Life:
Action towards your strongest values (Productivity) make progress towards important things; Eisenhower’s matrix
Belief. Give your life away… chosen sacrifice-Sense of purpose (contribution, give your life away… can’t “save” your hours, must invest). The test of value: you get paid. Paid doesn’t guarantee value, but free is idealistic… and idealists will kill us all.
Curiosity – Life long learning (always curious, painful feedback) be better today than yesterday, be better tomorrow than today
Discipline over your poorer habits
Energy. Health (Imagine you had 1 car all your life… how would you take care of it? that is your body…)
Friends (top 20… when was last you spoke?) inner circle… better a shack with someone who loves you than a mansion with those that use you
Be careful what you wish for… In the Zoo, the animals are safe in their cages, they are fed 3 meals a day, the fence keeps out predators and competition (isn’t that what Trump promised?).
We have to be careful what we wish for.
Freedom comes with a price, and that price is called responsibility. We need to practice the responsibility that allows us to deal with true freedom.
From Peter Drucker:
“The Nature of Freedom
Freedom is never a release and always a responsibility.
Freedom is not fun. It is not the same as individual happiness, nor is it security or peace or progress. It is a responsible choice. Freedom is not so much a a right as a duty. Real freedom is not freedom from something; that would be licence. It is freedom to choose between doing or not doing something, to act one way or another, to hold one belief or the opposite, It is not “fun” but the heaviest burden laid on man: to decide his own individual conduct as well as the conduct of society and to be responsible for both decisions.”
Listening is a state of seeking to be changed by the other person.
Listening is less about the ears, than about a state of openness to change.
Hearing is different from all other senses in that it has a buffer, a short term memory of the last 8 seconds that we have heard. This allows us to pay little attention until we hear a word, our name or a silence and this triggers us to scan the last few seconds of audio intently. Most of the time we learn to listen with little attention.
This is a dangerous mode of listening to those whose relationships are important to us. We must learn another way of listening to people who we value and are important to us. We must “listen with our eyes”.
When someone approaches me with the challenge: “I have a really difficult time communicating with my second son”. My question: “how have you let him change you?” This is what makes a relationship – a sense that both have the capacity to affect change in the other. Where I don’t let you affect my views, you will not let me affect your views. This does not mean that we let go of rationality. This means we are open to the different priorities that another person uses to view the world.