The grammar of language locks us into certain forms of logic and ways of thinking. As the writer Sidney Hook put it, “When Aristotle drew up his table of categories which to him represented the grammar of existence, he was really projecting the grammar of the Greek language on the cosmos.” Linguists have enumerated the high number of concepts that have no particular word to describe them in the English language. If there are no words for certain concepts, we tend to not think of them. And so language is a tool that is often too tight and constricting, compared to the multilayered powers of intelligence we naturally possess.
According to the great mathematician Jacques Hadamard, most mathematicians think in terms of images, creating a visual equivalent of the theorem they are trying to work out. Michael Faraday was a powerful visual thinker. When he came up with the idea of electromagnetic lines of force, anticipating the field theories of the twentieth century, he saw them literally in his mind’s eye before he wrote about them. The structure of the periodic table came to the chemist Dmitry Mendeleyev in a dream, where he literally saw the elements laid out before his eyes in a visual scheme. The list of great thinkers who relied upon images is enormous, and perhaps the greatest of them all was Albert Einstein, who once wrote, “The words of the language, as they are written or spoken, do not seem to play any role in my mechanism of thought. The psychical entities which seem to serve as elements in thought are certain signs and more or less clear images which can be voluntarily reproduced and combined.”
Studies have indicated that synesthesia is far more prevalent among artists and high-level thinkers. Some have speculated that synesthesia represents a high degree of interconnectivity in the brain, which also plays a role in intelligence. Creative people do not simply think in words, but use all of their senses, their entire bodies in the process. They find sense cues that stimulate their thoughts on many levels—whether it be the smell of something strong, or the tactile feel of a rubber ball. What this means is that they are more open to alternative ways of thinking, creating, and sensing the world. They allow themselves a broader range of sense experience. You must expand as well your notion of thinking and creativity beyond the confines of words and intellectualizations. Stimulating your brain and senses from all directions will help unlock your natural creativity and help revive your original mind. Mastery
by Robert Greene
Every person has a different length of time he or she can work before productivity and efficiency begin to decline—and this length of time can also shift over the course of a day. Keeping track of when energy levels rise and fall will help determine a schedule for alternating between mindful and mindless activities. Once these ebbs and flows are determined, a timer can be used to keep track of, and direct, these shifts to help prevent exhaustion and time-wasting.
Given all this talk of tracking and training, it might sound like you need to be a scientist or an athlete to truly excel at making great creative work. And in a sense you do: any kind of excellence ultimately requires observation, refinement, adaptation, and endurance. Just listen to acclaimed writer Haruki Murakami explaining the self-control he must put forth to complete his work: When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at four a.m. and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for ten kilometers or swim for fifteen-hundred meters (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at nine p.m. I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind. But to hold to such repetition for so long—six months to a year—requires a good amount of mental and physical strength. In that sense, writing a long novel is like survival training. Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.
There’s no executive in the digital era better known for long-term planning than Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon. In the early days of the company, when future-thinking was perhaps most important, Bezos would try to keep his schedule completely open on Mondays and Thursdays. Rather than playing catch-up or taking on a typical CEO schedule of back-to-back meetings, Bezos preserved a good chunk of his weekly time just to explore, learn, and think. He would poke around the various Amazon sites and spend time on the stuff he would ordinarily never get to do. As Bezos explained in a WIRED profile, “I wander around and talk to people or set up my own meetings—ones that are not part of the regular calendar.”11 Setting aside this unstructured time to fully invest in inhabiting the present moment—to take the tenor of his team or fully dive into his own thoughts—has no doubt served Bezos well in honing Amazon’s long-term vision. Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind (The 99U Book Series))
by Jocelyn K. Glei
Researchers at Stanford University discovered in the 1970s that one of the best ways to combat negative distractions is simply to embrace positive distractions. In short, we can fight bad distractions with good distractions.
In the Stanford study,7 children were given an option to eat one marshmallow right away, or wait a few minutes and receive two marshmallows. The children who were able to delay their gratification employed positive distraction techniques to be successful. Some children sang; others kicked the table; they simply did whatever they needed to do to get their minds focused on something other than the marshmallows. There are many ways to use positive distraction techniques for more than just resisting marshmallows. Set a timer and race the clock to complete a task. Tie unrelated rewards to accomplishments—get a drink from the break room or log on to social media for three minutes after reaching a milestone. Write down every invading and negatively distracting thought and schedule a ten-minute review session later in the day to focus on these anxieties and lay them to rest.
Still, it takes a significant amount of self-control to work in a chaotic environment. Ignoring negative distractions to focus on preferred activities requires energy and mental agility. For his book Willpower, psychologist Roy Baumeister analyzed findings from hundreds of experiments to determine why some people can retain focus for hours, while others can’t. He discovered that self-control is not genetic or fixed, but rather a skill one can develop and improve with practice.
Baumeister suggests many strategies for increasing self-control. One of these strategies is to develop a seemingly unrelated habit, such as improving your posture or saying “yes” instead of “yeah” or flossing your teeth every night before bed. This can strengthen your willpower in other areas of your life. Additionally, once the new habit is ingrained and can be completed without much effort or thought, that energy can then be turned to other activities requiring more self-control. Tasks done on autopilot don’t use up our stockpile of energy like tasks that have to be consciously completed.
Entertaining activities, such as playing strategic games that require concentration and have rules that change as the game advances, or listening to audio books that require attention to follow along with the plot, can also be used to increase attention.
Even simple behaviors like regularly getting a good night’s sleep are shown to improve focus and self-control. Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind (The 99U Book Series)
by Jocelyn K. Glei
As you work to free up your mind and give it the power to alter its perspective, remember the following: the emotions we experience at any time have an inordinate influence on how we perceive the world. If we feel afraid, we tend to see more of the potential dangers in some action. If we feel particularly bold, we tend to ignore the potential risks. What you must do then is not only alter your mental perspective, but reverse your emotional one as well. For instance, if you are experiencing a lot of resistance and setbacks in your work, try to see this as in fact something that is quite positive and productive. These difficulties will make you tougher and more aware of the flaws you need to correct. In physical exercise, resistance is a way to make the body stronger, and it is the same with the mind. Play a similar reversal on good fortune—seeing the potential dangers of becoming soft, addicted to attention, and so forth. These reversals will free up the imagination to see more possibilities, which will affect what you do. If you see setbacks as opportunities, you are more likely to make that a reality. Mastery
by Robert Greene
Art is a process and a journey. All artists have to find ways to lie to themselves, find ways to fool themselves into believing that what they’re doing is good enough, the best they can do at that moment, and that’s okay. Every work of art falls short of what the artist envisioned. It is precisely that gap between their intention and their execution that opens up the door for the next work.
Bad Boy: My Life On and Off the Canvas by Eric Fischl, Michael Stone
When Leonardo da Vinci wanted to create a whole new style of painting, one that was more lifelike and emotional, he engaged in an obsessive study of details. He spent endless hours experimenting with forms of light hitting various geometrical solids, to test how light could alter the appearance of objects. He devoted hundreds of pages in his notebooks to exploring the various gradations of shadows in every possible combination. He gave this same attention to the folds of a gown, the patterns in hair, the various minute changes in the expression of a human face. When we look at his work we are not consciously aware of these efforts on his part, but we feel how much more alive and realistic his paintings are, as if he had captured reality.
The average person does not generally pay attention to what we shall call negative cues, what should have happened but did not. It is our natural tendency to fixate on positive information, to notice only what we can see and hear.
In business, the natural tendency is to look at what is already out there in the marketplace and to think of how we can make it better or cheaper. The real trick—the equivalent of seeing the negative cue—is to focus our attention on some need that is not currently being met, on what is absent. This requires more thinking and is harder to conceptualize, but the rewards can be immense if we hit upon this unfulfilled need. One interesting way to begin such a thought process is to look at new and available technology in the world and to imagine how it could be applied in a much different way, meeting a need that we sense exists but that is not overly apparent. If the need is too obvious, others will already be working on it.Mastery
by Robert Greene
Author Jonathan Franzen takes the temptation of multitasking so seriously that, to write his bestselling novel Freedom, he locked himself away in a sparsely furnished office. As he told Time magazine, he went so far as to strip his vintage laptop of its wireless card and surgically destroy its Ethernet port with superglue and a saw. He then established a cocoon-like environment with earplugs and noise-cancelling headphones. A little extreme, perhaps, but Franzen demonstrated shrewd insight into human fallibility. Creative minds are highly susceptible to distraction, and our newfound connectivity poses a powerful temptation for all of us to drift off focus. Studies show that the human mind can only truly multitask when it comes to highly automatic behaviors like walking. For activities that really no such thing as multitasking, only task switching—the process of flicking the mind back and forth between different demands. It can feel as though we’re super-efficiently doing two or more things at once. But in fact we’re just doing one thing, then another, then back again, with significantly less skill and accuracy than if we had simply focused on one job at a time. Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind (The 99U Book Series)
by Jocelyn K. Glei
A producer is someone who creates value and shares knowledge with others. In the process, a producer helps improve lives and earns continuous active and passive income.
Step one is committing to becoming a producer. To attract customers, and partner with affiliates who’ll help promote your products, follow these principles:
- Have a solid understanding of your customers’ needs. When you identify your target audience’s biggest problems, you’ll be able to create products that solve them. Once you do so, you’ll have customers for life.
- Be clear about what your customers are willing to spend. You can’t expect meaningful rates of conversion if you develop champagne products for beer budgets. Test, poll, research similar products, and interact with potential customers to discover what they’re willing, or even able, to spend on your product.
Higher prices lead to greater affiliate participation. Whether your product costs $10 or $10,000, it’ll require roughly the same amount of effort for an affiliate to promote it. As a result, most affiliates will choose to invest their time into selling high-priced products that provide substantial returns. Printed books and ebooks, while often providing wonderful content, are ill suited for commission-driven relationships as are most other products that sell for under $500. Today’s successful partnerships involve the promotion of products priced between $500 and $4,995. Products above and below these price points continue to be sold, but they represent the two ends of the bell curve. Successful Internet marketers offer products at the center of the curve—and right now that sweet spot is roughly $2,500. Higher commissions mean happy affiliates. Selling a highpriced product isn’t the whole story. You must also be generous on commissions paid. Today, 40%-50% commission rates are commonplace, as is the payment of an additional 10% for second-tier affiliates. Second-tier affiliates, also known as brokers, help recruit affiliates for a product launch. When a product is sold, a second-tier affiliate typically receives 10% of the purchase price. Naturally, this cuts into your net profits. However, industry leaders understand that 40%-50% is a price worth paying for instant massive exposure, immediate income, and adding thousands of hopefully satisfied customers to their sales funnel.
- Deliver your product in the expected format. Trying to sell a magazine to someone who wants to see a movie is an effort in futility. A videocassette won’t sell to someone who has only a DVD player. Learn how your target customer wants to receive your content and then deliver it via the appropriate medium.
Continuity programs create long-term relationships. While instant cash is always nice, long-term passive income is even better. Whether they consist of bi-weekly one-on-one coaching, monthly product shipments, quarterly VIP programs, or annual membership dues, continuity programs provide ongoing benefits for both you and your affiliates. Developing products from scratch is hard. But even more difficult is creating products that fulfill audience needs, provide immense value, are of superior quality, and convert prospects to paying customers. Success requires satisfying all four criteria.
Today, he who has the list controls the game. Internet Prophets: The World's Leading Experts Reveal How to Profit Online by Steve Olsher
In 1971, renowned social scientist Herbert Simon observed, “What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” I’ve seen many different proposals for how to preserve focused work in a hectic schedule. Of these many proposed tactics, one stands out, in my experience, as being unusually effective. I call this the focus block method, and it works, ironically, by turning the machinery of the distraction culture against itself. The focus block method leverages the well-understood concept of a pre-scheduled appointment. It has you block off a substantial chunk of time, most days of the week, for applying sustained focus to your most important creative tasks. This scheduling usually happens at the beginning of a new week or at the end of the previous week. The key twist is that you mark this time on your calendar like any other meeting. This is especially important if your organization uses a shared calendar system. Blocking off time for uninterrupted focus, however, is only half the battle. The other half is resisting distraction. This means: no e-mail, no Internet, and no phone. Start with small blocks of focused time and then gradually work yourself up to longer durations. A good rule of thumb is to begin with an hour at a time, then add fifteen minutes to each session every two weeks. The key, however, is to never allow distraction. If you give in and quickly check Facebook, cancel the whole block and try again later. Your mind can never come to believe that even a little bit of distraction is okay during these blocks. Tackle a clearly identified and isolated task. If you have to write an article, for example, do the research ahead of time, so that when you get to your focus block you can put your word processor in fullscreen mode and turn your entire attention to your prose. Consider using a different location for these blocks. Move to a different room, or a library, or even a quiet place outside to perform your focused work. When possible, do your work with pen and paper to avoid even the possibility of online distraction.
Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind (The 99U Book Series)
by Jocelyn K. Glei
You need to recognize the impact you have on people’s lives in the business you are conducting. What you render, and the way you render it, has changed their lives. It has helped enrich them. It has helped their security. Change the way you think about, deal with, and speak to your clients. Greet them on the phone and in person with the same joy, sincerity, and enthusiasm that you’d show any other valued friend. Respect the importance of their time, their sense of security, and their comfort. Don’t make them wait too long on hold or in your waiting room or at their home. Provide for their comfort. That may mean coffee and beverages and a comfortable, clean setting complete with fresh, interesting reading material. It may mean a pleasing shopping environment and enough help on hand for a client to get the most out of their buying experience with you. A successful business starts not with just a great idea or product. Rather, it starts with the desire to provide a solution to another’s problem. In doing so you enrich your own life and the lives of those around you, your family and employees or employers, by enriching the lives of your clients. You need to understand that you have a higher purpose for being in business than simply making money. Your purpose must be understanding what you can do to help solve the problems of others, help maximize the options, and finding ways to do it. And unless you understand that higher purpose, you can’t begin to take advantage of your potential. You must first identify what your client really needs, even if your client doesn’t recognize what it is he or she needs. The client may think that a particular item is what he or she is searching for, but if you probe a bit you might see that an entirely different solution will solve your client’s problem, maybe even a less expensive solution. Now you have become more than a salesperson. You’ve become an adviser. You’ve begun the process of winning trust and, ultimately, additional business from your client. Getting Everything You Can Out of All You've Got: 21 Ways You Can Out-Think, Out-Perform, and Out-Earn the Competition
by Jay Abraham