Smooth is Fast

Time out for a personal development moment.

Slow is smooth; smooth is fast.

Navy SEAL Saying

I heard a story of a guy who got into fitness, bought a bicycle, and began riding a route as fast as he could. One day he was somewhat more tired and rode at a little slower, yet more comfortable pace. His time for that route went from 43 minutes to 45 minutes.

I’ve noticed over the time of my life that I’ve stopped trying to do everything in a great rush. When driving I consciously stop and pause at stop signs (unlike the guy I saw this morning who blew through a stop sign making a right turn in front of oncoming traffic not far away–guess he trusted the other guy to slow down). Yes, I still commonly drive at speed limit + 5, but I no longer tempt more speeding tickets like 30 years ago.

Take a moment several times a day to pause, breathe, relax, refocus, then return to work. And accomplish more. 

This season of the year finds me with the pressure of finding referees for soccer matches. This year has been especially hard. Before the season even began, I lost 20% of the officials on my list due to health, retirement, jobs, or moving away. I gained one person. Not a good long-term trend.

I could sit there and stare at my screen that said 90+ games lacking a referee and panic. Or, I could just breathe and tackle them one at a time. Solve this one and move to the next.

Slow is smooth; smooth is fast.

More gets accomplished; my attitude remains calm.

Try it, you’ll like it.

Opportunity for Growth Along With Entertainment

This may seem somewhat off target, but not really. Personal growth and development are more than a hobby. I’ve taught classes, mentored, encouraged for my entire adult life. Thought in this era of divisiveness and fear and anger, this timely message and recommendation might help someone.

Ancient advice and modern spiritual explorers teach us to be self -aware and to be careful of being ruled by our passions.

This can be as mild as foolishly spending money on unnecessary things. Or choosing to spend time with the wrong people.

It can be as bad as letting fear, lust, anger, greed, pride, and the rest rule our lives.

On the other hand, a coldly rational outlook following the rules and inhibiting relationship fuels a life alone and unsatisfying.

A TV series from Belgium explores some of these themes with deep probing and gentle understanding. Professor T features the struggles of a genius criminologist professor who assists a former student now detective inspector in solving murders. Along the way the writers probe the struggles and growth of perhaps 10 characters.

The acting is superb. The soundtrack outstanding. The spoken language is Flemish (with some French—it is Belgium, so both languages are spoken). My wife and I found it on Amazon Prime. I realize there are people reading this in countries where you may not be able to find this program. But if you can, it’s worth it. It was recorded in 2015, 2016, and 2018. Three seasons of 13 episodes. We’ve watched it over the past month. I’m going to miss the characters.

There is an English version, as in performed in England in English. We have seen this one. Not as good. There are also versions in German and French. We have not seen those. Watch the Belgian one. I cried at the end.

Overcoming passions keys a sound life. Unless your heart is in the right condition, overcoming passions will leave you cold.

Holding On Too Tightly

The best interview podcast going right now is Guy Kawasaki’s Remarkable People. This week he talked with Mark Schulman. Schulman is a drummer. Currently he tours with Pink. Well, when tours start up again. He’s also an author and speaker.

Guy asked him about the art of being a drummer. My music education began as a drummer eventually playing in the University of Cincinnati marching band with many students from the College Conservatory of Music there. I was interested.

“Don’t grip the drumsticks too tightly,” Schulman said. Holding on too tightly tenses your fingers, wrists, arms, and shoulders such that you can’t provide a smooth, driving beat. It’s a metaphor for life, he added.

My wife had never heard about the famous Malaysian Monkey Trap (probably goes under a lot of names). You place a fruit larger than the hole that the monkey reaches into the container to grab it. The monkey will not let go of the fruit in order to escape. It traps itself. She was reading Where the Red Fern Grows. They trapped raccoons the same way.

Our question for the day–to what or whom are we holding on too tightly that we are tensed, stiff, trapped? Where do we need to let go? Breathe freely? Relax and refocus?

I have a backlog of about 20 items to write for this blog. I am so far behind on my annual assigning of soccer referees that at times I am overwhelmingly discouraged about getting through the season. Our house is in disarray while we’re having the interior painted. We moved during the pandemic. Every wall was painted contractor white. I looked at the size of that project and figured we could afford a professional. Good move, except during the pandemic no one was going into other people’s houses. When my environment is in disarray, so is my focus.

Try that this weekend. I will. I need it. It’s amazing. Relax, tackle a project “Bird by Bird”, and much is accomplished.

Asking Questions

I am remarkably poor at asking questions. I remember chemistry class in high school. Instead of asking “will this be on the test?” I asked “how do they know this?” The former question gets you on the path to an A. The latter sets up a path toward learning, but not toward a good grade.

Later in life, I became a magazine editor. There would be press conferences. I didn’t learn much about asking questions. There were always those who asked the obvious question that had actually already been answered in the presentation but the presenter was thrilled to have the opportunity to expand. There were a couple of people who answered the question they were about to ask (surely an art form). I, if interested, would want to dive deeper into how the new product worked. And…I didn’t want all my competitors to hear the question. So, I kept my peace.

I still have a problem asking good questions.

So, I heard about a book which is now on a delivery truck heading to my house, The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock.

And I will answer your question. Yes, when I receive it and digest it, I will share it.

Now, I have two interviews with CEOs this afternoon about manufacturing topics. Can I come up with some questions before the book arrives?

Thinking About Fragile and AntiFragile

For some reason unknown to my consciousness, I was thinking about my neighbor teaching math to 8th graders (14-year-olds). Math should be taught as a way of thinking, not just memorizing how to manipulate numbers, letters, and symbols (or even cymbals).

Then I thought about the challenges of teaching 14-year-old boys how to think. Or even 17-year-olds. I guess the brain doesn’t even get on par with testosterone until maybe 25 some psychologists have told me. Some women tell me that 35 is a more likely age for male adulthood and ability to think. 

How is your thinking going these days? Can you quiet yourself to think about a problem long enough to maybe even solve it? Given my audience of engineers and managers, I certainly hope so. But there is no guarantee. I could tell stories…

My current book for thinking is from Nassim Taleb, Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

On our trip this past week, we stopped in at the Will Rogers Museum in Claremore, OK. He stated the principle almost 100 years before Taleb (without the math).

Live your life so that whenever you lose, you are ahead.

Will Rogers

You can order your finances that way. And the risks you take at work. And your career.

Something to think about.

A New Theory of Intelligence

Happy Monday. I am attending four virtual conferences this week. This morning begins with three previews of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Discover 2021. I will be busy with influencer events for several days. Later this afternoon I’ll attend the technology preview of the Honeywell User Group (HUG). I’ll probably attend a few sessions there, as well. I think there is also a Siemens roundtable event and a PTC Liveworx event.

In the meantime, I’ve just finished A Thousand Brains: A New Theory of Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins. I used his Palm Pilot in the early 90s when it first came out. Synced it with my Act customer database. It was cool. His previous book, also excellent, was On Intelligence.

Even though this is the famous holiday, Prime Day, I’m giving you a link to the book from Bookshop.org–a site that supports your local independent book seller.

This book is a fascinating look at the latest research and theories around the neocortex of the brain. Plus–a bonus feature where he looks at the state of AI. Since most of the software companies are touting their AI, I found this enlightening.

Recommended reading for sure.