We've all heard the one about the universe responding to what we put out and God blesses good people. I don't buy it. When I see the rich list, I don't think to myself “What a great bunch of saintly people”. When I see a family living on a dump site in a third world country, I don't think to myself “What truly terrible people they are”. It's nonsense. In fact, that family making use of people's rubbish to make a living is actually part of the solution. Innovation and an attitude of responsibility for our situation go into it. There will be all kinds of factors that prevent us from becoming as successful as the next person. It's not our fault when we work hard and realise only a fraction of the dream. We can make steps to ensure that fraction is as big is it can be. Here are some great ways of addressing abundance with human psychology.
Gratitude goes a long way. Look at nature. See how difficult it is for any life form to even survive for a few days. With predators and people on the cards, not much makes it through to ripe old age out there. We can expect a lot more than nature in general, that's because we're generous people and a social race of creatures. Humans look out for one another and have created a society that helps us to do it. Be grateful more often and you'll feel richer already.
Generosity generates. As in the previous point, the human race is a generous one. Those who want to give, provide service, and improve lives are the ones who make it in the world of business and work. The people who care about giving their all and doing their fair share are the ones who prosper the most.
No faking it. As much as it seems attractive to walk in another person's shoes, if they don't fit you'll soon fall over. Stick to what you know and never stop learning. That way no path is ever closed off and you will never lose your footing. Being in a permanent situation you don't feel comfortable in will bring out the worst in you pretty quickly.
Do it for a reason. Work for work's sake might pay the bills but to make a real impact we have to do things that are truly worthwhile to society. Work that works and work that pays are not necessarily the same thing. Choose where you put your energy wisely.
Nurture realistic ambition. Never settle for what you have now, always be looking to better yourself or your situation. This said, don't reach too high or aim for something with too many steps in front of you. Keep it reasonable and close to where you are as to not give the impression you hate your life. We know that's not true.
Keep learning. Continual education is paramount to staying on top of your game. Never think you know everything, none of us do. Each aspect of life and work has areas of study that go ever deeper into the dynamics and theory of the ways things really are. Knowing ever richer detail helps us to get ever more understanding of our journey and purpose.
Believe in your ability to better your life. Never give up. Keep going and always do your best. People may try to put you off, encourage a change in direction, or call you unhelpful things. They simply reflect their own inner world onto yours and they don't match. Kindly thank them for their advice and then carry on doing what you feel is best.
There are the stable subjects that we all need to know, the standard information that links all world principles together. Arithmetic, literacy, science, religion, they're all really handy for understanding the world we live in. The problem with education is that it can become stale quite quickly. Especially if the one who is teaching it is going over the same lesson plans they laminated thirty years ago. Not only this, the world is also changing all the time. The things we need to know above the basic level shifts with time. Those thirty year old lesson plans might not be much good when it comes to teaching methods and relevant information. Standardising the education system is good on one hand, it means that everyone learns the same things. The problem it causes is that it leaves little room for individual talent. This doesn't have a plan, we're all unique people. Here are some ideas for ensuring the standards don't become the restraints.
Work on self-chosen projects. Let the students do their own thing, using the information and materials given. Encourage research and self-learning in order to achieve the goal. When the student works on their own ideas, they feel more attached to and more involved with the process. If they're working in teams, individuals will gravitate towards their skill sets in the status quo. Perhaps they might need a bit of encouragement, however like electricity, when we're charged up we take the path of least resistance. Collaborative learning and decision making based on discovered information all help information to sink in.
No need to test, repetition and variation will work. Testing is stressful. It provides a negative association with the work and the learning environment. Fearful or worried students won't grow up to enjoy learning. They'll not achieve their full potential in life if they're not willing to continue learning into adulthood.
Put common sense first. Understanding the concept makes remembering the facts a lot easier. Memorising data and copying out of books might pass the test but it doesn't give the student a foundation of wisdom. Boil things down to the basic point more often and build up from there. Common sense is something that will apply in all areas of learning. Learning to learn and discern is a key skill for all of us.
It doesn't matter if you don't know. Sometimes a student will say something completely unique. They might want to do something or know something that you just can't deliver. It's okay to be in this position. Accepting it and undergoing the journey with the student can actually help them learn even more. Your example and response can become a template for how they behave when put on the spot.
Standards are guidelines, not laws. Of course the facts are the same no matter where in the world you are, but the way we look at them changes. The emotional relevance of the story changes, the human aspect is continually being redefined. Teachers have to accept that most people will have their own world view. Providing the facts may evoke an original response, it may require a path of non-curriculum discussion to go into detail. It's okay to wander off the track if it's going to help a student.
We are all teachers, whether or not we're paid. The way we work as social beings is through example and discussion. People usually love to learn new skills if it's fun or worthwhile. If you're in work or looking for it then new skills mean more opportunity. If you're quite happy, thank you, then other types of learning can give life more purpose. Look for teachers who see the human side over the process.
Change is hard, and if it's tradition then it can also be hurtful. The thing is, we often know more now than we did then, so in these cases change isn't just a whim, it's essential. Cultural attachment to the way things are can make it difficult for innovators and creatives to break through and have their concepts and ideas taken seriously. We know the way things are is not good enough, the world is full of avoidable problems, so why the resistance to change? It takes work with an ability to let go of attachment to make significant changes. It's often why we resist it. There is more to it than that, though. Culture has a bigger role to play.
The speed at which something of quality grows depends a lot on the type of culture it finds itself in. Those closest to the creator or innovator are the most important in the growth factor as they have a unique connection which is more likely to be a talking point. The culture of all the people who are connected with the innovation defines where and how the idea grows. When you see a good idea taking shape and growing in the world, be aware that it's had to break through all kinds of boundaries to get to where it is now. Unless you already have a brand that's known for good ideas and a marketing budget to sit alongside the Cocacolas and the Macdonalds of the world, it'll be an uphill adventure.
Good ideas need community interest and support. Start-up businesses often rely on donations to get them off the ground. The cultural norms that prepare people for starting a business and accept their ventures with gifts of cash support are down to the type of culture these people are in. Sometimes entrepreneurs have had to battle all the way to be accepted, other times they've been encouraged from a young age to get started. Innovation in the modern age is more necessary than ever, as the populous grows and our impact on the world and on each other grows too.
A culture is broadly defined by a set of shared values. These depend on the types of media the culture generally consume. This includes religious and spiritual media like scripture and preaching as well as news and opinion. The types of things people joke about and take seriously are also part of a culture, what is the normal and what is the odd. Large cultures like that in a country or city can be split up again into types. It is these subdivisions within larger culture that tend to be most influential when concerning an idea's speed of growth.
The first distinction to make is whether a culture is orthodox or liberal. Do they take the rules seriously, with serious consequences for not adhering to them? Orthodox cultures are difficult to have breakthroughs in because the way they think things are is deeper set than anything one person can do or say. You'll find that orthodox cultures use well known sayings and quotes to ensure their way of life goes unchallenged. To best work into this type of culture, our ideas must be presented in terms they already understand and agree with.
Liberal cultures have the same rules but they are less strict. They accept differences and are generally more tolerant. This leads to a diverse scope of people within a culture and they all have differing desires and needs. It's much harder to predict or research what liberal cultures want or will accept however they are also more likely to be accepting as well. There will be a willingness to deviate from the cultural norms if something is exciting or fun or proven to be useful.
Culture can also be looked at with the lens of individualism and collectivism. Individualistic cultures celebrate the self, are big on human rights, and have more liberal ideals. They are more tolerant of deviance from social norms and accept people for who they are. Individualistic cultures look down on dependence and value people by their ability to be independent. They are less likely to pull together to help someone out but they'll be more willing to accept someone who has an idea they want to nurture.
Collectivist culture prefers to orientate themselves in groups. They stick together in collective agendas and think in similar ways to each other. Either through job, social status, faith, or something else that defines a person, people stay in their own groups and stick to common lines of thought and action. They'll be more family based and each person will co-depend on others as others co-depend on them. Collectivist cultures don't work for just themselves but for the betterment of society. Their innovations and investments will be more about the greater good yet they can shun those who stand apart through successful ideas.
Each type of culture has its strong points and difficulties when it comes to breaking through with good innovation. The internet has enabled us to breach our local groups and reach out to cultures all over the world. Online interactions still have a lot of evolution to go through, it can be a little like the wild-west at times, however it's clear that the world needs a lot more innovation and solutions to our problems at the same time as we've never been closer to each other.
Recommended read: Valuing Technology Organisations Culture and Change
So Alternative Fruit may have turned a few heads a couple of weeks ago when we reported on top educational podcasts and included an entry for science fiction. What? Some of you asked, why fiction for education? It sounds like we're teaching lies to our kids perhaps? Not really, you know we take it for granted that the stories are not true. It's the context and morals within them that cause us to learn about life. Stories have been used to communicate wisdom for millennia, modern stories are no different. Famous fables and parables have us all thinking along the same lines in certain situations. Books like Terrance The Shy Hedgehog by yours truly are more modern examples of the same thing. Useful for knowing how people are going to behave, as well as making sure everyone knows the rules. There are key features in fiction that communicate good wholesome education. It is a longer stretch for the mind, we have to think about it, it requires us to analyse and weigh up various points. Encouraging us to think independently based on given criteria, like those found in a well-written story, helps us to do the same thing in real life. It makes good practice. Here are some of the main points we can look to when finding the benefit in reading fiction.
Reading makes us happy and content. This sets the perfect atmosphere for good learning. An environment of quiet thoughtfulness without stress makes everyone's life better. When students are happy and content they will naturally learn more and be willing to discover things for themselves. They'll have the energy to muster the confidence to tackle the big ideas they need to succeed.
Reading fiction helps us to be creative. When we don't know how it ends, when your guess is as good as mine, our minds naturally try to decide for itself what comes next. We make guesses and educated hypotheses to get to the bottom of the conundrum, to know what happens next. Reading fiction encourages our minds to test our perceptions against an unravelling reality. Being comfortable with not knowing is another key feature in this area. Because we don't know and only guess, we learn to be okay with not knowing and if we're wrong, accepting it as part of the journey.
Reading teaches us new words and phrases. Our vocabulary normally comes from the people we speak to regularly. If we read a book then we're listening to the words of a writer who wants to use the best words and speak with perfect clarity. There's no better place to learn vocabulary than from someone who uses it to make a living.
Reading teaches tolerance. We sometimes don't like people for certain things they think or do. If we read about their lives from a non-biassed point of view, it can help us to see another side of the equation. Reading about different cultures and lifestyles can help us to stop judging others for being different and can enlighten us to their plight as individuals in a world that sees them a certain way.
Reading strengthens the brain. Many studies have shown that readers and people who use their brain regularly go on to have less likelihood of degenerative brain problems in later life. It helps us to retain memory and helps us to remain intelligent and alert even when our bodies are getting old. It's also good for mental health, with reading providing an escapism from life's troubles and helping us to cope with difficult emotions.
Fictional characters have lives which mirror our own. We can learn a lot about people and the way social circles work by reading about them from an external and non-involved point of view. Often when we're in the middle of it, our emotional attachment to certain people and their opinions causes us to misunderstand the reality of a situation. This can cause upset and conflict, reading more helps us to avoid this from happening by teaching us about how people treat each other and the consequences. Reading well-written fiction helps us empathise with people better and understand ourselves in more detail.
We all love to read, and we can't do much of it without a few books. We know about Amazon, what else is there? Here's a run down of some great bookshops.
Abe Books - These specialise in rare and collectable editions, they also have a weird book section and all the usual suspects.
Alibris - Now we're talking books, films, music, and games. It's a media haven for worldwide customers.
Smashwords - Go digital, save waste and money. This independent book retailer offers books from authors all over the world, each with their own story
Associating an artist with a story gives their customer base a sense of comfort and attachment that helps to sell their work. There are many proven psychological effects in the brain when listening to stories. Putting people's minds at ease with a short story about the brand and its products is a way of offering transparency and nurturing trust. We have to earn the respect of our potential customer by always producing good quality works and relating to them. We are all emotional beings, whether we admit it or not, and this means that the way we feel is a clear factor in the decision making process. If a brand hasn't taken the time to tell the story behind it then winning over this element of our personalities will be harder. We don't spend our money unless we want to or really have to.
As with all stories, there are certain rules that apply. If we follow these rules in some form for our stories then it will do the job you need it to when it comes to communicating the desirable side of your wares.
Ask yourself, “Who am I talking to?”. Knowing your audience means appreciating what they're into already and who their influencers are. What kind of people are you aiming at with your arts? You need a story that says something to them. Think about the language you'd use, the metaphors, the literary quotes. Try to tailor the story to meet the emotional landscape of the audience, let them feel comfortable with the whole message.
What are you trying to say? There has to be a point for your story, and it will be concerning your brand and products. Whether you've engineered a new toaster or created a batch of acrylic paintings, the story has to be about these things and how they fit into the lives of your audience through examples.
How will you tell it? The individual stages of your story need to make logical sense to the audience. If they don't understand it or if it makes them feel uneasy then the audience will quickly lose confidence in the brand. The story must have a clear structure that can be easily understood.
Are you being honest? If the truth is sabotage then you're not ready to sell. Your story needs to represent the truth about your brand and product in a way that makes it clear for the audience to understand it and accept it. If they can't see the elements of the story for themselves, they won't be interested.
What problem does it solve, what effects will it have on the lives of your audience? The story has to make it absolutely lucid as to what your brand does and what it is for. If it's arts then explain the medium, influences, emotional background, be creative! People want to feel a connection to their art so build as many as possible.
Tell, don't teach. We're all on the same team, we created our brand because we want to enrich society in our work. Teachers are good in the classroom and in lecture halls but in the marketplace people want to talk to a friend. Casual language makes it more digestible for people and a non-authoritative tone will be listened to a lot more.
Put pictures in people's heads. Memorable stories stick in our minds because of their imagery. We imagine the setting and the situation so the more detail and imagery we get gives us a clearer picture. The better the resolution the more memorable it is. Visual story-telling is a great way of achieving this.
Remember the human side. It is never just about your brand or your product. It's about how it fits in with the lives of everyday people. There are emotional reasons people like particular brands and names as much as they like the style. Customer loyalty is difficult to establish so it's vital that your audience likes you and accepts your brand. Nurture the emotional side with empathic relations and demonstrations of authenticity.
A good story will sell itself, it will be retold and changed over time. If you can tell a story that becomes one of these, and it's clearly involving your brand, then that brand will stick around forever. If you want to continue on the journey towards telling a great story then you can read this inexpensive book.
Targets and workstations have a purpose, they get the job done. The job that's making the money at the moment. But what about tomorrow, what about the other money you could be making and employing people with? True innovators know that the work is never done when it comes to designing a product and service. If something works well, it's easy to get complacent and just stick to what works. The thing is, that in today's society, we're all becoming the designers and the innovators. A business model of the 21st century needs to constantly look out for the best ideas and innovations in order to improve what they do. If you follow a routine at work and you get your jobs done but you wish you could be more innovative and expressive about your ideas, you're not alone. Most people feel stifled in an environment that doesn't allow for a less regimented regime.
Here are some things that teams can do to loosen the mind and let the ideas flood out.
Learning information is valuable work time. Even if it's negative information. This means that ideas that don't work out the way they were expected to are not matters for discipline or wage cuts. They're learning experiences that if used properly will ensure the same road isn't taken again. It doesn't lead to where you wanted it to go. Knowing this is priceless to a business, so reward the acquisition of good information. The way we ensure our ideas don't waste resources and time, even if they fail, is to keep track of the method and rationale at every turn. Sometimes it's just one of the two that isn't right and sometimes it's both. We have to be able to isolate at every turn what works and what does not. So reward effort as much as results.
We have to enable the team to try out their ideas. By encouraging the team and re-assuring them that their ideas are valued, the team will be much more fluent in good ones. Protocols are in place because quality matters. It's not necessarily the protocol itself that matters but the result it gives. Every step is worth time and money to the business and it's often in this area that the innovation happens. If a person can invent a new method of doing the same job which continues to ensure the same quality then time and money are saved. If, as well, a person sees how the method could produce another product or service without little change, that's another line of income for the team. More jobs, better equipment, and happier workers.
Allow risk. Risking everything is folly but risking something for a better thing is not. Especially when we've learned so much already and when even if we fail, the information is vital. Looking at everything in black and white terms is unhelpful, like the two previous points, failure is not a dirty word. We have to be prepared to experiment and try out our ideas. This all involves risk, and so we have to learn to be comfortable with this.
Change the scenery regularly. It's valuable time to take the team out to a park or museum once every few weeks. It's also good to go out for meals or drinks. By putting the same people in a new situation with less formal associations, the mind feels more able to produce handy ideas that may just be of use. When at work, we're often just on the job with our list of things to do and people to appease. This is an automatic mindset that knows it just wants to get through the day. It's actually really stressful and this drastically reduces the amount of energy our mind can put into the imagination.
Remember you are a team. We can spend our whole day in isolation with our computer and telephone. If everyone is working hard that might be the image you have. The thing is this is mechanical work that doesn't do anything for innovation, progress, and future services. Allowing the group to talk about the things that interest them and the events of their lives not only encourages bonding but also gives people ideas about what sort of things might be worth looking into. Naturally, a person who works somewhere every day will have an interest in the things the work involves. They'll likely pick up all manner of ideas and information from their home life.
In short, ease the pressure off, listen more, and remember to take notes.
None of us are free from unhelpful thinking patterns, often we don't even know we're thinking them because they're subconscious. We act out conscious thoughts partly based on what our subconscious mind has already decided. Don't worry, you're not your thoughts. It's a reflection of you in the water of your biology. But the point remains, we learn unhelpful ways of thinking through all kinds of examples and lessons which have what I like to call 'shady' wisdom. It's just not true, despite how good it feels. So with these little nuggets of fool's gold in our heads adding their rationale to our subconscious patterns of thought, it's no wonder we sometimes get stuck.
Perhaps the first thing that stifles progress and creativity is thinking we already know the answers. If it's creative then it's novel and interesting and none of us have any answers. Acting like we are the intellectual authority over a thing when we don't fully understand it is something that often gets in the way. It takes courage to put on the humility hat and accept general ignorance. Maybe because the word ignorant is often used as a negative connotation, we don't want to admit it. Ignoring something deliberately is of course truly ignorant and a negative behaviour, we reserve it for things we dislike or make us uncomfortable. But not knowing much isn't ignorant, not knowing much and then saying that it's a bad idea simply because you personally can't see how it will work is far more ignorant. Avoid doing this.
Being put off by not knowing is equally as show-stopping. The design thinking side of operations wants to imitate everything proven to work. In one way this ensures success and it works to a degree. When creativity and innovation are involved though, things become less regimented. And we need these things if we are to improve on the systems and technologies we have at this time. The world isn't perfect so we are in need of creative, innovative, and sometimes unclear ideas. Not forgetting the sacrifice to test each one, however when we think of the whole planet and what's at stake, it's always worth it.
So it's risky, and we naturally want to blunt the blades in case we slip. We want to eliminate all risk. It's okay to think like this, but if the blade isn't sharp enough, it won't cut the thing we want it to. There has to be an element of risk, and then skilled operations to carry out the function. It's always risky when we put time, money, and emotional sweat into a project. If it doesn't work out for us then it's a horrible and desperate feeling. We wonder what we did wrong, and in this we learn how to improve. We can't be scared of this.
Treating creativity as an external and distant function prevents the genuinely good ideas from ever seeing their potential. By making it seem that there's a clear difference between the regular people and those who are creative gives a culture of us and them which results in negative comparisons.
That's because many of us are naturally critical and love to find the fault in things, this is actually really bad for creativity. Yes, find the faults and be critical, but don't enjoy it so that you forget to see the good in something first. An appraisal begins with positive news, it acknowledges everything right and then it highlights possible flaws with tact. Putting off an inventor by hurting their feelings could have cost us the next antidote.
Some people love to feel above others and won't acknowledge something from a lower level that challenges their authority. If a person feels challenged or intimidated by another's good idea then they'll not push it. They'll sweep it under the carpet and maybe claim it was their own. This is not how we progress and it's another matter of being humble enough to recognise when another person is equally as valuable and worth listening to.
Finally, we have to recognise that even if we are on the top of the ladder and enjoy the rewards that it brings, there are people working really hard on the bottom of that same ladder. The only way we will encourage progress and innovation that works and is implemented is to make sure that those on the bottom can feel able to take the steps up. We can sometimes remove some of the rungs between the bottom and the top so it's impossible to climb. It's good to keep inspirational people in our circle and they can come from any rung of that ladder. Put those pieces back in if you haven't already. Anyone caught cheating can be given a healthy kick back down to the bottom.
The imagination is a powerful tool. Tibetan visualisation meditations have been a key feature in Buddhist culture for thousands of years. Magic too was often made of using mental powers to improve favour from spiritual forces, was this a psychological and natural phenomenon? Perhaps so. There are people who are good at imagining, and some who are not. Those who are not particularly imaginative are free from all kinds of unhelpful things, mental health issues may not present themselves in the same way and they're less likely to be distracted or even deceived by their own eyes. For those who have vivid imaginations, apart from all the side effects of having little control of it, if we learn to control it then it becomes a focusable part of our consciousness.
An experiment was recently conducted which looked at brain waves with an MRI Scanner. Groups of people were asked to tell the researchers the names of people they like and people they dislike. They were also asked to name a place they considered emotionally neutral, as in they had no particular feelings either way for the situation. Participants were then asked to imagine themselves in the building with the person they liked. This was while their brains were being monitored. The brains showed a type of learning that associated the positive effects of the liked person with the neutral place. Even though they weren't actually there, in the brain where the biology of our thinking happens, it didn't matter.
The particular area of the brain involved is called the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. This area is associated with memory of person and place. This joining of function perhaps makes it easier for the mind to learn emotional relevance across these two things. Somehow, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex is able to weigh up positive and negative elements about people and places and allow us to feel good or bad about them. This can be manipulated by us in our imaginations, so the experiment proves. The benefits of this are wide-reaching. I'm sure you can imagine a few.
Think about people who have trauma, they can revisit the experience in their mind with someone they really like. Someone who helps them feel safe perhaps. Maybe I could take Arnie with me to pay a visit to those nasty kids at school or maybe Carol Vorderman for when my good ideas were laughed at. Let's see where that takes us! Some of us have more serious things to call trauma, for instance there are plenty of people alive today who have experience war first hand. This no doubt will leave mental scars, the loss, the fear, the anger, the grief, all of it can be revisited with a favourite person.
I'm really excited about this finding, and I hope you are too.
Via Science Daily
Regular readers of Alternative Fruit will remember the article a little while ago in which we shared six great podcasts. Podcast Picks for People Who Think got a warm reception, thanks to everyone who read it, shared it, or simply liked it anyway. You all make this worthwhile.
Inspiring people takes all kinds of techniques and avenues. We find it in our everyday lives, inspiration can come from anything when we look at it in a certain way. Often our mind focuses on something when we are in need of inspiration, information, or just something to pass the time. We could just look out the window, but a lot of people work really hard to deliver good content to us.
When someone makes content for a good reason, it's not because they're trying to convince others of their opinions or because they're trying to trick people into buying their products. Good media is made because the creators and the people who fund it want to enrich the world with their works. The creators want to make the world a better place for their job, just like we all want to make the place where we work a better place.
Here are some more brilliant podcasts that are made with you in mind, for pleasure and for learning.
The History Of Philosophy Without Any Gaps
This highly informative and fun to listen to podcast is given life by philosophy departments in Germany and elsewhere. Because of them, we get to listen to ad free content every week. Peter Adamson is the host, he's an expert on philosophy and its history. He breaks down key features in the history of the subject and explains them in layman's terms. This then helps us to understand psychology, ethics, religion, and a whole number of other ideas. Although the podcast is well underway with scores of episodes already recorded, each one is available for free. Start from the beginning and maybe you'll catch up and be forced to wait like the rest of us.
This time we visit a podcast funded by its listeners. Via Patreon, happy subscribers offer what they can to help this team of experts pay the bills. This podcast is a weekly discussion on the theme of astronomy. It doesn't require expert knowledge to enjoy it, a simple enthusiasm for space will be enough. Star Trek and Star Wars fans alike will all enjoy this real life exploration of the cosmos. Various key principles in the field of astronomy are talked about and explained, allowing anyone to pick up the subject for themselves.
Sci-Fi fans unite and subscribe to this regular fiction storytelling podcast. It's a real pick and mix of authors and themes, all on the science fiction shelf. Sometimes the stories are a quarter of an hour, sometimes an hour, every time they choose an exciting and intriguing journey. Take a trip into the realms of fantasy and future on a regular basis. Maybe Gaze of Robot, Gaze of Bird by Eric Schwitzgebel sounds interesting, or perhaps The Thing With The Helmets by Emily Skaftun is more inviting? What-ever you choose, there'll be more.
For a variety of intellectual documentary type broadcasts, tune into Radiolab. This podcast presents themed episodes which have content with all kinds of influences. Each time it creates a thinking environment where our assumptions and hopes are tested against actual knowledge. It can be quite disturbing sometimes, and other times just funny. It's quite deep for a radio show and the presenters are able to keep everything intellectual and calm headed. Always with an element of psychology, with a humanitarian and centralist outlook, the Radiolab team bring us cutting edge ideas and thoughts.
The Naked Scientists
Mentioned last time in conjunction with 5 Live Science, The Naked Scientists have their own show. Rather than sharing the stage with the other 5 Live Science crew, they have the stage all to themselves. The content is geared up a notch from the BBC edition. Their ideas and information go a little bit more into depth. This podcast is great for people who enjoy learning about and listening to science.
It would be unfair to not mention the BBC in this list, they work hard to produce a large variety of podcasts. This Radio Four podcast invites us to mull over some of the deeper questions life has to offer. They cover most things eventually, and it's always surprising to see what they come up with next. Finding interesting things for regulars to write home about is a large task! Luckily, like Alternative Fruit, the BBC are good at that kind of thing. You'll not be disappointed if you like using your brain.
There you have it, hopefully you'll get hours of listening pleasure from each of these offerings.
Every business or organisation needs a great leader. Someone who can get the job done for themselves and inspire others to do the same is rare. A leader first has to be able to manage and lead themselves before they can lead others. Many people go through life in an institutionalised fashion, following instruction from the authorities and refusing anything that doesn't match. These people are not good leaders, through no fault of their own, they don't have the mental capacity to break from their societal grooming. We are all programmed to a certain degree by the surroundings we grow up in and the people who raise us. Some of us, for some reason or other, never really take it on board fully. Some people just can't be shepherded or led, even when those doing the leading have the best intentions! These are the leaders, the ones who, if they can get over their sense of the personal, can become great leaders.
But what is it that makes a good leader? After-all, some people are just sure of themselves and wrong. Some people are so convinced of their correctness that they will go to great cruelties to make sure their opinions fly. Others are just unable to treat people with the respect they deserve. A good leader has brilliant people skills as well as brilliant management skills. Leaders don't nurture resentment or fear, they don't get cross with others, they remain calm and focussed on the issues themselves.
Here are some dualities that great leaders demonstrate when being in charge of inspiring groups of people.
Great leaders have their house in order. They don't just focus on work and other people's order. To be able to stand in a position of influence, we have to show that we are using our wisdom in our own life and it is working. We don't want advice from a homeless person unless it's about how to survive on the streets. This is an extreme example but the general formula is true for any case. Show authority by living it. Let go of work and targets, loosen the grip on the office and get busy with getting your life in order. At least from time to time.
Great leaders understand responsibility for error and for success. When someone makes a mistake or doesn't pull their weight, a leader will act on this. They will have a chat with the worker to find out what is troubling them or what it is they haven't understood. When someone isn't giving their all, it's usually because they're unhappy. It's a leader's job to make sure the work force is happy. But a great leader also knows when someone is doing all they can to get the result. They reward this and celebrate effort. A good leader is not all tooth and nail, but smile and handshake too.
Great leaders follow the guidelines and adapt them for specific purpose. Guidelines are important, they ensure quality every time. They ensure that paying customers get the service they asked for. However everyone is different and everyone has their own thinking behind what they want. A great leader will see when the guidelines have been limiting what is achievable and they will adapt them for the required purpose. Looking at the computer, sucking in some air, and saying “I don't think we can stretch to that” is not leadership.
Great leaders give concrete targets with room for initiative. It's important everyone is on the same page and is working towards the same goal. A leader can build a mental image for the whole team as to what it is they are working towards. They can describe the company personality and encourage workers to follow the guidelines to make sure they fit the theme. However, leaders know we're all unique people with different ways of thinking. They recognise when someone takes the initiative and works in their own way, as long as the targets are met on every turn it really doesn't matter.
Great leaders force innovation by encouraging imagination. We need to be innovative in order to make our way in the world. To get to a point where people want to pay us for doing a job, we have to find problems to solve and solutions to them. This requires a lot of creative thinking and it's vital to provide something unique and practical in order to stand out. All this pressure can make it really hard to think. Stifled by responsibility, we tend to fall into the tried and tested mindset. It's safer. This means leaders have to encourage and tease out the loose, creative, and sometimes wacky ideas that hide behind the prefrontal cortex.
Great leaders gel values rather than overwrite them. Company or team values make sure everyone is working on the same quality level and that clients and customers always get the same level of service. These values are shared by the group and have to be applied by all. This doesn't mean that individuals don't have their own values. Great leaders understand their workforce or team members and their personal values. They work to include and link these ideas and ethics to those of the whole, showing that when tied in, they all point in the same direction. Often, it's just a matter of explaining psychology or business academics for the notion to make more sense.
Great natural leaders still need to learn how to lead. You don't know until someone tells you, even if you're naturally great at something. Think of a computer with no software. It's perfect for running Windows, it's even got the little sticker that says so. But without the installation, it won't run anything. You still need to program your head to think in the ways leaders think in order to be a truly great leader. You've just read this blog post, why not go one step further and take an online course in leadership? You can learn in your own time.
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