The Principle of Affordable Loss, part of the business philosophy known as "effectuation." Instead of asking how likely some venture is to succeed, ask whether you could tolerate the consequences if it failed.
[Thank You Fast Company | By Oliver Burkeman 11.13]
It sometimes feels as if the "happiness industry"--the self-help books, motivational speakers, corporate consultants and the rest--makes its money by being useless.
It's an ingenious business model, when you think about it: promise to help people think positive, then when your techniques fail, conclude that they weren't thinking positively enough--sending them back for more. Among the many myths and misconceptions dogging the subject of happiness, here are five of the worst, along with some suggestions for what to do instead.
IT'S CRUCIAL TO MAINTAIN A POSITIVE MINDSET
Good luck with that. Though it's the founding principle of the positive thinking movement, trying hard to focus on upbeat thoughts and emotions frequently backfires, generating stress. One culprit is the mind's susceptibility to "ironic effects": attempting not to think about certain negative things only renders them more salient. Research underlines the point: bereaved people who try not to feel grief take longer to recover; experimental subjects who were told to try not to feel sad about some distressing news felt worse. Much more fruitful is the Buddhist-inspired notion of "non-attachment:" learning to let negative emotions arise and pass, resisting the urge to stamp them out. In any case, it's often more productive to focus on behavior, not internal states. Next time you're feeling unmotivated about starting some daunting project, allow yourself to feel unmotivated--and at the same time, open up the file and begin. Doing meaningful work is challenging enough without the burdensome demand that you feel like doing it, too.
2. AMBITIOUS GOALS, RELENTLESSLY PURSUED, ARE THE KEY TO SUCCESS
Another self-help dogma that's being further undermined every year. A too-vigorous focus on goals, research suggests, can trigger a variety of unintended consequences: it can degrade performance, and encourage ethical corner-cutting. Moreover, it can badly distort an organization, or a life, by singling out one variable for maximization, regardless of how it's connected to all the others. (Consider the hypothetical entrepreneur who vows to become a millionaire by 35 and succeeds--but only at the cost of alienating his family and friends, and ruining his health.) Even the 1996 Mount Everest disaster has been blamed on the "overpursuit of goals.”
Deep down, what may explain our obsession with goals is the fear of uncertainty--the craving to know for sure how the future will turn out--whereas in fact it's only amid uncertainty that true creativity can occur. "The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning," wrote the psychologist Erich Fromm. "Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers." Besides, isn't there something dubious about a philosophy of happiness that locates it entirely in the future, which never seems to arrive?
Happy Thanksgiving! I am #thankful for my friends and family who make my life rich, funny, loving, worthy and awesome. Wherever you are today, thank you.
Let’s bring management skills back into leadership. While asking managers to become more visionary, let us also insist that leaders should be able to manage well.
[Thank You Harvard Business Review | by Rosabeth Moss Kanter 11.21.13]
There are an awful lot of leaders in trouble these days. Not just those under attack for ethical lapses, accounting problems, or excessive compensation – retired college presidents are the latest to join corporate executives in the latter category. The trouble I’m referring to is getting new ideas implemented and brought to scale. The leaders range from entrepreneurs with great ideas but a flaw preventing expansion (Tesla?) to new CEOs with a vision their stakeholders won’t rally behind that won’t guarantee results anyway.
Much has been made of the distinction between leadership and management. Too many managers, not enough leaders, the critics say. Leadership is uplifting, they imply, while management is boring — just a bunch of rigid bureaucrats spinning red tape, or emphasizing efficiency over effectiveness. But my work with numerous top executives shows that this is a false choice. Great leaders also have managerial inclinations. They are practical as well as visionary. They care about efficiency. They might not be the ones to roll up their sleeves for the tasks of execution, but they know what to ask of those who do. These abilities grow with experience.
As the world now knows, U.S. President Obama has stumbled in the implementation of his signature health care reform idea, the Affordable Care Act. This time his problem is not politics; it is management. The President and his aides failed to understand the basics of execution. Some of the same citizens who once supported a new-to-the-Senate outsider with fresh ideas now wonder about why they elected someone with no experience running anything.
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Have a great week-end, -Philippe.
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