In addition to being a digest of topics and themes ranging from business, to behavioral science, technology, and ways to practice learning Learning Habit includes some thoughts on what I'm reading along with a curated list of some of the best conversations from around the web.
Charles Feltman regales us with a short read. The focus is to learn to build and maintain trust in the workplace. Feltman defines trust as choosing to risk making something you value vulnerable to another person’s actions.
Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang is a pragmatist. With tight synthesis and breadth of angles Chang covers the definition, history, and development of economics to help us figure out how to make sense of it and why it matters to our everyday lives. The real world examples and sense of humor ground the material and make it easy to digest. Chang clearly speaks “economics” and is deeply passionate about its purpose in commerce. He also commands popular culture(s), making appropriate use of references and expressions, and demonstrating empathy toward his likely less versed readers.
Many of the divisions we like to make to keep the world orderly and gain some sense of control are at best attempts to wrap water in paper and shape it, in the words of Bruce Lee, at their worst expressions of excuses we make up to hide our fear and shame. There is a third way, and that is to learn and master what is essential to us and what isn't. Hence the warrior ethos. Having trained in Karate-do for many years, I am enjoying revisiting the philosophy of “do.” John Little has written a wonderful testimony to Bruce Lee's life.
We use words to communicate our who, how, where, when, and why's all the time, but rarely we think deliberately of what we are saying. David Whyte explores the meaning of simple words like truth, beauty, honesty, giving, joy, gratitude, but also heartbreak. Through the meaning of words, Whyte explores the conversational nature of reality. For example, rest is the conversation between what we love to do and how we love to be.
Language is in constant flux, so the words we choose need to work in the context of our audience. “Too often, corporate chieftains have used language as a weapon to obscure and exclude rather than as a tool to inform and enlighten,” says Frank Luntz. To be persuasive, “It's not enough to be correct or reasonable or even brilliant.” If we're not heard, we're not understood. As a political adviser, Dr. Luntz has learned to understand the American public by writing, supervising, and conducting more than 1,500 surveys and focus groups for corporate and public affairs clients all over the world.
If you know what real “Parmesan” Cheese tastes like, you probably already have an idea that what we get in the U.S. is not it. But why does the label not say something else?
The problem impacts a lot more than just the Italian original. How does it happen? Says Larry Olmstead, “Federal regulations require (as in mandatory, not optional) the FDA to inspect less than 2 percent of imported seafood , hardly a rigorous analysis . Still, in 2013, inspectors managed to achieve barely a quarter of that incredibly low threshold—and their poor performance has been getting shoddier annually, down from the year before.”
It turns out that with food like with every single other thing in life we both get what we pay for and don't get what we aren't prepared to pay for.
Mortimer Adler and Charles van Doren say most people read at elementary level. The news as an example of this. But what about the rest of us who read for work and want to learn something? In the third level, analytical, Adler and Van Doren describe how to become an active reader. Active readers classify books, x-ray them, determine the author's message, how to criticize a book fairly, and the role of relevant experience in reading. I was interested more in the highest level of reading, synoptical reading. This is the reading of several books on a particular subject. The authors describe how to select a bibliography (which I found truly useful), how to narrow the subject, and how to inspect the material. Because truth can be found only through thoughtful comparison and discussion.
Author, comedian, and entrepreneur John Hargrave tackles a serious topic with a playful attitude. Our mind is a fascinating and at times maddening thing. Sometimes it drives us crazy with its loops. Sometimes it's a total distraction as we go about doing our work. When we try to quiet it down, it becomes louder. We often approach the problem by meditating - or trying to anyway. But what if there was a way to turn down the volume or pause the ongoing self-talk on command? Naturally I got curious about it.
The core thought by Atul Gawande is that we have tremendous know-how, but distraction, cognitive load tricking memory, desire to speed things up, and sometimes plain old ego play tricks on us. We mess up and sometimes, as in his examples, lives are at stake. As my mom used, “when you're in a hurry, slow down.” Checklists help us hit pause.
Russ Harris draws heavily on the acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) work of University of Nevada professor Steven Hayes, which argues that happiness is not a normal state of being; pain is inevitable and what matters is how it is dealt with. The ACT prescription is to be mindful of negative thoughts and emotions, reconnect with core values, act in accordance with values and with the psychological flexibility to adapt to any situation. Like many things in life, to reap the benefits, action is imperative.
Here's our Summer Reading List.
More reading lists:
Find a more complete list of what I'm reading here.