David Cain is tired of putting off simple tasks, so he is aggressively taking a look at the reason for his bad habit. One of his conclusions: how we grew up may affect how we view getting things done.
Particularly prone to serious procrastination problems are children who grew up with unusually high expectations placed on them. Their older siblings may have been high achievers, leaving big shoes to fill, or their parents may have had neurotic and inhuman expectations of their own, or else they exhibited exceptional talents early on, and thereafter “average” performances were met with concern and suspicion from parents and teachers.
A procrastinator becomes disproportionately motivated by the pain of failure. So when you consider taking anything on, the promise of praise or benefit from doing something right are overshadowed by the (disproportionately greater) threat of getting something wrong. Growing up under such high expectations, people learn to associate imperfection or criticism with outright failure, and failure with personal inadequacy.
As we do every Friday, we’ve collected our most-shared Twitter links for your weekend reading pleasure.
From the web:
Andreas von der Heydt is a country manager of Amazon Buy Vip in Germany, meaning he’s spent the past two years mingling with some of the best, technologically creative minds in this century. Recently he shared some of the lessons he’s learned on what it takes to truly master creativity on LinkedIn. Heydt writes:
“Masters of creativity are masters of creativity because they know ‘how’ to think and not necessarily ‘what’ to think…[For example:]
- Switch perspectives, the more often and the more diverse, the better.
- Question everything, don’t accept [just] anything.
- Chunk up (generalize the problem at hand by making it more abstract) and also chunk down (go deeper and deeper to the root of the issue by making it more specific).
- Change the sentences and the words of the problem statement by rephrasing it. Use whatever words you’d like to.
- There’s no right and wrong. Separate the parts from the whole.”
Head on over to LinkedIn to read the full article.
Artist and poet Austin Kleon (whose best-selling book Steal Like an Artist continues to inspire) explains why you should keep your less-than creative day job, and how to do it while pursuing your art on the side. Kleon writes:
“You have to pay the bills and feed the mouths, and you do it however you can…And my experience has been that economic security has always helped my art along more than any kind of ‘spiritual’ freedom or whatever…You always have a day job. Just hang in there. This is what I recommend: get up early. Get up early and work for two hours on the thing you really care about. Then, when you’re done, go to your job. When you get there, your boss can’t take the thing you really care about away from you, because you already did it. And you know you’ll get to do it tomorrow morning, as long as you make it through today.”
Read Kleon’s full explanation on how dull day jobs can actually help creativity thrive here.
Relevant: Cal Newport’s chapter in Maximize Your Potential, “Cultivating Your Craft Before Your Passion.”
Turns out the best way to get the most from your creativity is by maintaining high levels of the feel-good chemicals serotonin. Coffee helps too. Shiv explains:
“The path [to higher serotonin] begins with proper rest. A minimum of 30 minutes — but ideally up to 2 hours — of deep sleep reduces cortisol levels and boosts serotonin.…Diet matters, too. A high-protein breakfast is easily converted into serotonin and dopamine, while caffeine is a physiological arouser, meaning it will amplify whatever emotions one is already feeling….Cardiovascular exercise is also critical. When the heart muscles pump faster, they release a peptide believed to help produce serotonin. That means considering a brisk walk before an afternoon meeting — or better yet, walk and talk.”
Read the full article here.
Previously (on serotonin): Simon Sinek: Leadership Is Not a Rank, It’s a Decision.
David Hieatt of Hiut Denim Co. has advice for the makers of the world (or even those just interested in business models). His company brought back the jean making industry that had died in Cardigan, UK years prior. They founded Hiut with the mission of producing the finest quality jeans, though they knew that alone wouldn’t lead to success.
Here’s one of our favorite parts:
IV) No one goes to bed at night and dreams of quality.
We make one of the best pair of jeans on the planet. And we are very proud of that. But that doesn’t mean that is the best way of selling it.
Quality is what we make. It’s what we stand for. It’s what we believe in. But it is not how we will sell our jeans. People have desires and dreams and you have to learn how to make your product fit into them.
People buy a lifestyle, an image, a purpose, a superiority, part of a small elite club, rejection of the norm. Part of your job will be to understand their desires, and make sure what you make appeals to them.
Your customers go to bed each night and dream their dreams. They dream about changing the world, they dream about starting an amazing company, they dream about all sorts of crazy stuff. But they rarely dream about quality.
Don’t ever compromise on quality. But sell the dream.
Read the rest over at The Holborn.
Every office has a person racing from desk to desk, talking loud and fast, checking and replying on their mobile; always on the go. They look important, they feel important, but actually, they are stressing out of their coworkers. As the Wall Street Journal explains:
Ray Hollinger was known for years among colleagues in a previous job as a sales-training executive as “Mr. Busy,” he says. In his quest to be a top performer, he says, he often thought, “If all this stuff just keeps coming at me, I will take it on. I will take it all on,” says Mr. Hollinger, founder of More Time More Sales, a Phoenixville, Pa., training firm.
He says he wasn’t aware that his constant motion sometimes made others feel uncomfortable—until a co-worker pointed it out. She told him that when she tried to talk with him, ” ‘your volume goes up, your pace of speaking goes up, and you’re not fully in the conversation,’ ” he says.
It’s even worse in open offices.
When the boss has a view of the entire office, “no one wants to be seen as the slowest moving object in the solar system. You have to keep up with the Joneses—literally,” says Ben Jacobson, co-founder of Conifer Research, Chicago, which conducts behavioral and cultural research for companies.