Whereof the heart is full, talketh the mouth

12
Feb
Kaheman thinking fast and slow

#2: GET SOME DISTANCE

By Prof. Wolfgang Linker

NO DISTANCE, NO VISIONS. NO VISIONS, NO STRATEGY.

Our late chancellor Helmut Schmidt once said: “People with visions should go see their doctor!“. Well, in this case, our most honored grand man of recent German history was wrong. Visions, when things go as they should, are by no means delusional ideas, but precious guiding principles. On the other hand: maybe he was right, after all? It’s quite true: self-employed people, entrepreneurs, managers, they oftentimes need a “doctor“ remove the ill tissue of unrealistic illusions and to pamper the healthy tissue of realistic wishes.
Illusions and visions differ in three ways: content, motivation, strategy.   

#1 CONTENT:
If I aimed to earn a Nobel Prize, that would be an unrealistic reverie. At age 75, my guarantee has already expired: e.g. the guarantee for necessary forces to run longterm research.
Healthy visions thus answer the question: specifically what would be a reachable goal?

#2 MOTIVATION:
There are things I can do to contribute to my fitness in old age. With an emphasis on “do“. It takes the determination to do it, that means, it takes motivation. That is the second difference between illusions and visions.
Healthy visions thus also answer the question: why would it be tempting to reach a given goal?

#3 STRATEGY:
The third difference is in the promising plan.
Healthy visions thus further answer the question: exactly how can I reach that tempting goal?

No sooner said than done? No! I have known for ages, that I could to a lot to stay fit beyond the “guarantee terms“. I also know - rationally: It would be possible for me to finalize my second book on communication, sitting in my drawer with two thirds being done. Content, motivation, strategy, all that is clear. In theory. For it takes one more thing. Something fundamental. A fourth prerequisite. Fasting and hiking prepare the ground: it takes distance from visions. 

At a distance and only at a distance, we will discover that, when it comes to our own judgments, we tend to be overconfident. All of us. All the time. Time and again. Even age and wisdom don’t help it. Psychologist Daniel Kahneman proved the overconfidence bias so well that it earned him the Nobel prize in Economics in 2002. (His book “Thinking, Fast and Slow“ is highly recommendable, but also very heavy. For those being reluctant to reading 500 pages: part III is entitled … yeah … right: overconfidence. And its only 65 pages long).

Overconfidence bias sounds unpleasant. It’s worse: the overconfidence bias prevents that we even take into consideration new aspects - especially, if they seem to be against us, or pessimistic. Love turns blind. Greed is stronger than reason. Right? Right!, says Kahneman in a slightly more scientific manner: Our Known Knowns knock out most Known Unknowns (and make us completely forget that there could be Unknown Unknowns). That means that another difference between visions and illusions is the …

#4 DISTANCE
Healthy visions answer the question: how will I create the necessary distance to give room for objective strategic thinking?

Which leads us back to Fasting and Hiking and my two personal strategic goals:
stay fit.
write book.
We left our office and, by doing so, our many silent and seated work.
We went the the island of Sylt.
We hiked and, with new acquaintances every day, we talked about everything under the sun.
We made use of our idle periods to set up our strategic plans - in an unusual physical and mental state.
Pure distance!
Lo and behold:
I really saw things in new and creative ways.
I saw the previously overlooked.
I asked myself new and different questions.
I also realized and with joy: I am on the right track.
I double-checked my thoughts, with my wife as feedback giver.

Beyond that, I got fresh “food“: short presentations on health issues provided me with a wealth of new information, e.g. on edibles and their components. More importantly, I heard once more what I had read before oh so many times, judged correct oh so many times, and neglected anyway oh so many times. I am harming myself with my belief “Any kind of physical exercise is a nuisance and a waste“. So far, knowing that didn’t help. But now I heard recommendation in a completely different mind set: after physically strenuous, but satisfactory tours followed by gratifying mental work. That overcame my couch potato attitude.

I am know proud owner a a deluxe caddy and walk to the grocery stores. That is 30 minutes of physical exercice which I can do and stick to. I also picked up writing on my book regularly. At a desk set up on purpose at a remote place of our house, providing the seclusion that helps me. 

Finally and after all, Helmut Schmidt was right: I was in need of “medical help“: by Kahneman, the speakers, my wife.

Which “doctor“ would you nee to turn illusions into visions?

19
Sep

#1: FAST - HIKE - STRATEGIES

by Claudia Linker (Monnet)

For a while we didn't eat. At all. Instead, we walked, in wind and weather, between 12 and 15 km per day. And used that to do our yearly strategic planning. And yes, we consider this of enough value, to recommend you to do so, too. Both: yearly strategic planning and registering to a course in fasting and hiking. After a week on Germany's beautiful Sylt Island, our backpacks were filled with very specific plans and so far, they seem to sprout. Also and especially the professional ones.

While - als far as we know - noone yet is offering a mix of fasting, hiking and strategic business development, you can still use thoughts from this series of articles to tinker your own strategic plan, with or without fasting (and / or hiking). Or you get in touch with us for further support. We'd be pleased.

"Specifically what would we like to do (be it continue to do / start to do / do at all)?", this question has an urge to be asked and answered. In 2015, the urge was even stronger, partly because Wolfgang was nearing his 75th birthday. Slowly but surely, age made him feel like wanting a bit more to look for the "bare necessities, the simple bare necessities". Djungle book's baloo is so right: those bare necessities, they really tend to come to you, at least at a given age. But there was another reason for our strategic urge to be so particularly strong in 2015: Claudia was nearing her 50th birthday. And that is not yet the age to oft completeley for Baloo's bare necessities. The stronger inspiration is Bagheera. 

Somehow we had to fairly well balance these very different stages in life - and to put the company on that track. And so we did. It took us some months of thought-giving, putting in writing, discussing, deciding, rejecting, focussing, 4-6 hours per week. Then we ended up with a neat strategic plan, and with energy, luck and coincidences, it worked out surprisingly well so far.

So now, in summer 2016, it was about time for a provisional evaluation: What had we been able to realize? Or not? Why? Based on our successes and failures, how would we decide to move on? 

However, our calendar was full, which, generally speaking, is pleasant, yet harbours the risk to prefer the urgent to the important - thus making strategic work impossible. So we decided for one intense week, which with some effort we were able to block. 

Additionnally, we decided to fast again simultaneously. Simultaneously because we already new that real fasting automatically induces deep pondering, assessing and reorganizing. And yes, to fast really means: to eat nothing. Nothing you could bite, that is. Unless you'd count the parsil on the then evening broth among solid food. New to us was the combination with hiking, which meant to move and really a lot. Rough and about four to five hours per day, in all weathers. And trust us: Sylt even in July 2016 absolutely meant all weathers, or nearly so. Until then, we'd been to monasteries for fasting retreats. They would make you move, but a lot more moderately. Also, especially Claudia can really dive into her inner self in a monastic setting. Her fear now was, not to reach that depth with all that physical acitivity. The opposite turned out to be true. 

So what are those specific plans that we put into our backpack? That's what we'll let you now little be little on this site. Just this for today: strategic planning puts us in touch with what we really want - or not. Strategic planning puts habits on hold and questions them. Strategic planning takes off the shackles of false constraints und unchains heartfelt desires. Replace "strategic planning" by "fasting", alternatively by "hiking", maybe even by "fasting" and "hiking".

Want more? Pleasure!

01
Dec

Languages … chitchatting

I JUST LOVE LANGUAGES. LEARNING A BIT MORE EVERY DAY. LEARNING FROM MY MISTAKES.

One day I stumbled upon the English “operate“ as for “do surgery“. I could have sworn black and blue, it were a false friend. It’s not. One may say so. Ok.

Then “cabinet“ slips out, but I can sense: it sounds wrong. Although: French always works and “everything sounds sexy in French“ (sexy French starts at minute 1:19; see below for the English meaning of the words). My grandmother stopped putting her feet on sidewalks to be found on trottoirs only, once marriage had gained her a higher social status.  

I want to get that right now und drop down what a doctor’s working place is in “my languages“. Cabinet say the French and the Italians; consultation the Danish and Spanish, Practice the Germans and Russians. 

The English words, British and American, seem quite odd … until I take a closer look at the roots. Then only the French cabinet marches to a different drummer. 

Boring? Not at all!
Fascinating? Yes!

Words start to march to different drummers when and as they like it. So, if I say doctor’s cabinet over and over and over again, it might gain acceptance. Or not. Would also be ok. Everything sounds sexy in French.

TIPS FOR ALL THOSE AFRAID OF COMMITTING MISTAKES IN FOREIGN LANGUAGES:

JUST TELL YOURSELF: “There is no such thing as mistakes, just expressions that have not yet gained acceptance.“ — You might be a trendsetter.

EXPLORE: Our brains never (!) produce nonsense. Quite the opposite: round the clock our brains create sense. They keep looking for relationships und build associational fields. Feed them. My way here was, to explore the words’ ancestors und to literally visualize that big picture.

OVERCOMPENSATE: By exploring I learned even more than the accurate terms for “what surgeons do“ and “the place where we meet a doctor“ in my languages; e.g. that surgery literally means to work with ones’ hands. The Greek word “kheirourgia“ being composed of “kheír“ (hand) and  “érgon“ (work). All of a sudden, my associational fields produce a bounty of words connect to “érgon“ — and their meanings become clearer.

REWARD YOURSELF FOR HAVING SUCH A STUNNING BRAIN: You might talk to someone about what you discovered. That would multiply the likelihood for longterm memory of what you learned, and for a pleasant one.  

English translation of the sexy French words:
earwax accumulation
waiting room
curtain rail
gallstone
recreation offers for seniors
value added tax
thumbtack
mouth odor
health care reform
plunger
pustule
hard skin remover