As with just about everyone, I’ve been unsettled, stressed, and concerned about the news of the Coronavirus over recent weeks, days, and hours. While I have my opinions on the virus and how events are being handled, they are just that – opinions, which I’m not going to share here. I will keep those to myself since I am neither an epidemiologist, scientist, or statistician, and I definitely did not stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.
What I’ve found interesting is how the crisis has been handled by our government leaders, at all levels. Leaders aren’t made during good times, they are forged during times of crisis. These are my observations and lessons learned.
Imagine you could take your smartphone and go back in time fifty years. The year is 1970. You pass someone on the street and show them the piece of aluminum, plastic and glass in your hand. You proceed to explain to them that this device allows you to call or instantly message anyone in the world. It is connected to vast libraries of information, can provide directions, and provide answers to any questions you or they might have. It has a voice interface that allows you to talk to it and receive spoken answers.
Given the popularity of 2001: A Space Odyssey (the book and the film), which was released 2 years earlier, the person might assume you were showing them a movie prop. They would hardly believe that such a device would ever be possible, even though Stanley Kubrik and Arthur C. Clarke foreshadowed these and many other technical innovations in their breakthrough movie.
And therein lies the main reason science fiction has become one of my primary reading genres.
I’m not a huge fan of the NBA, but I have to give commissioner Adam Silver his due. He has been doing a good job shaking things up and looking for ways to make his on court product more interesting, more exciting and more relevant.
The shake-up of this year’s All-Star Game was a good start. Having the outcome benefit local charities gave the players more incentive and drew the crowd into the game. I also liked playing to a set score rather than time. It made the end of game a lot more fun to watch. It was certainly better than the free throw and timeout fest the end of every other closely contested game turns into. To show how captivating it was, even Lisa was hooked with Brad and me.
Another idea Silver is also looking at is mid-season tournaments similar to international soccer. I like the idea, although there’s a lot of details that need to be worked out. Brad and I were kicking around ideas the other night when an interesting thought occurred to me – scrapping the NBA draft lottery in favor of a draft tournament.
So if you’re listening Mr. Silver, hear me out.
Having read about the benefits of meditation in numerous books, I took up the practice the beginning of last year. I wrote about my initial meditation experiences here.
I’ve kept up with and continued my meditation practice since that time. According to the Headspace meditation app which I use, I recently passed the mark of 365 straight days. The regular practice has revealed a lot about myself, my mind, and the world around me.
Here are 10 things that I’ve learned through the experience of meditation.
Philosophically speaking, I favor capitalism over other economic systems. The free market is a beautiful thing. When operating as it should, consumers are free to choose the companies and people they want to do business with. Those entities that provide the most value to consumers are rewarded, and those that don’t go out of business.
I also favor smaller government, particularly at the federal level. When the government regulates marketplaces, they alter the playing field. Their actions can significantly disrupt a market and determine the winners, even when not intended. When this happens, consumers are usually the ones who lose.
Unfortunately, my philosophical views don’t always work out for the best. There is a dark side to capitalism. There are times when unchecked capitalism is not in the public interest. In extreme scenarios, it can bring harm to the public. It can concentrate wealth among the rich through the exploitation and transfer of wealth from the public domain.
Allow me to explain.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve read numerous books on improving personal productivity. I’m interested in learning and putting into practice what the experts do and recommend to operate at their highest performance level.
One item that has come up repeatedly is starting the day with planning and solitude. Why? By starting the day off right, you win the morning. And by winning the morning, it puts you in the best position possible to win the day.
“What’s bad for the hive is bad for the bee.” – Marcus Aurelius (b. 121 AD – d.180 AD), Roman Emperor (161 AD – 180 AD)
Those closest to me know that I’m not fan of the gig economy. It only takes a slight mention of Uber, Lyft, GrubHub, or InstaCart to set me off and ruin an evening out with friends.
“Either you’re spending your time. Or your time is spending you.” – Seth Godin
I’m reminded of the classic story where you are given a magical bank. Each day it puts $86,400 into your bank account, but there’s a catch. (There’s always a catch, right?)
At the end of the day, whatever you don’t invest, whatever you don’t give away, whatever you don’t spend, it vaporizes. It goes away without anything to show for it.
If you were granted this magical account, what would you do with it?
I’m sure most of us would blow it on ourselves, but eventually, that would get old (or then again, maybe not). We would start to find ways to invest it in future opportunities. And once we experienced the joy of spending it with and giving it to others, we would start spending it with and giving it to those around us. Eventually, we would realize that every dollar is precious and would make certain that we were getting the most of every dollar, every day.
Where am I going with this?
“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in” – Greek proverb
I’ll admit it. There are a lot of things in life that I take for granted. Here’s a few of them:
- Turning the handle on a faucet and having clean water come out
- Flipping a switch to light the darkness
- Driving my car on well-maintained roads
- Heating my house during the cold winter months
- Having access to a wealth of information through the internet
I could continue on, but you get the point. The common thread in this list of amenities is that they are the result of infrastructure built by those before me. At some point, people made decisions to put their time and effort into building things that were bigger than themselves. They had the foresight and took the initiative to build something that would not only benefit them and their direct descendants but also society as a whole.
Do you know what the “illusory truth effect” is? It’s our tendency to treat a false or misleading statement as fact after repeated exposure. You see, as humans, we tend to take shortcuts when assessing if what we hear is true or not. Instead of racing out to collect facts, we evaluate statements based on prior knowledge and how familiar we are with them. Researchers have shown that people who are exposed repeatedly to statements, even when false, are more likely to believe they are true.
How does this work you ask? Let’s take a look at a specific example.