“Lighten Up and Relax” — When Things Fall Apart — Afterword (20th Anniversary Edition)

The Afterword to the 20th Anniversary edition of Pema Chodron’s “When Things Fall Apart” has many beautiful phrases to quote.

My favorite quote synthesizes the whole book into a “stance” that we can aspire to.  I’ve been working hard on the impossible combination of “Welcome groundlessness” AND “Lighten up and relax”. 🙂

“Look at your mind. Be curious. Welcome groundlessness. Lighten up and relax. Offer chaos a cup of tea. Let go of ‘us and them.’ Don’t turn away. Everything you do and think affects everyone else on the planet. Let the pain of the world touch you and cause your compassion to blossom. And never give up on yourself.”

This next quote is very practical.  Something crazy and unreasonable happens everyday and I have to remember to not turn away.  I have to look, take it in, and work with it.

“Our world, no matter how crazy and unreasonable it gets, will become our greatest teacher and ally.”

This quote needs no explanation.  Heart ❤

“We can’t just erase everything that has led up to this and make things better all at once.”

Tools for the Post-Truth World

Here are 5 books that provide tools for navigating the “Post-Truth” world.

Each book was uncomfortable to read. They provide examples that force me to “open my eyes” and move away from “willful blindness”. They describe biases and errors my mind makes, and then how others are attempting to manipulate me by attacking my biases and faulty perception.

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The Books

“Post Truth” — by Lee McIntyre

“Who Do We Choose To Be” — by Margaret Wheatley

“Rebalancing Society” — by Henry Mintzberg

“Win Bigly” — by Scott Adams

“Skin in the Game” — by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

I learned a lot from Lee McIntyre’s recent history of “the press”, and especially how the “Prestige Press” operates. I was surprised to learn that the “Prestige Press” uses a “two-sides to the story” approach to provide “balance”, and that they do this even when there is only one side. For example, climate change gets “two-sided” coverage even though there is very little scientific support against it.  The “two-sided-ness” makes it appear to readers that there is doubt.  The debate is “manufactured” and the attempt at “balance” produces “imbalance”.  I also learned that many lobby groups are trying to recreate the success of the “Tobacco Lobby”,  which fought for a “two-sided” discussion, and thus delayed action on “Tobacco” for decades. My synthesis is that it is very difficult to get “all the information”, and that historically we’ve never really had it.

Scott Adams “Win Bigly” is absolutely terrifying, because he does a great job discussing how good Trump is at persuasion. I was sad, for many weeks, after reading this book. It’s that convincing.

Margaret (Meg) Wheatley and Henry Mintzberg are great reads because they provide me with something to do. She says that the world needs “Warriors for the Human Spirit”, and Henry Mintzberg says that we should get out to support our “Plural Sector”.

I summarize Meg Wheatley’s “Warrior for the Human Spirit” action plan as 1) learn how to meditate, so that I can strengthen mind and to begin to sort through all this manipulation and 2) Stand up, be a good person, don’t succumb to the post-truth mentality, and help others with this disorienting time.

In Henry Mintzberg’s book he talks about the loss of balance between Business, Government, and Plural sectors of our society. He defines the “Plural Sector” for us in the hope that we’ll work hard to restore balance. Sadly, he doesn’t hold out much hope for us doing this quickly. Here is his definition of the “Plural Sector”

“Consider all those associations that are neither public nor private—owned neither by the state nor by private investors—such as foundations, places of worship, unions, cooperatives, Greenpeace, the Red Cross, and many renowned universities and hospitals. — page x

Finally, Nassim Taleb is always worth reading. He sees the world differently and can back up his views. He is important and must be taken seriously, no matter how difficult his views are to stomach.

More – Defining Post-Truth

Lee McIntyre provides a definition of Post-Truth that sends shivers down my spine

“Contention that feelings are more accurate than facts, for the purpose of the political subordination of reality.” page 174 of “Post-Truth”

Calm Is A Big Word

“We skip over too much when we rely too much on language” — Dr Stuart Shanker

For example here is his definition of Calm.

More — A few years back I was introduced to the “Self Regulation” work of Dr Stuart Shankar. I really like how he explores the complexities of regulating oneself versus controlling oneself. Recently his book came out in paperback.

Thank You -— tip to West Van Schools Sandra-Lynn Shortall @SLShortall

Refreshing View of the Working World – Managing Humans by Michael Lopp

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I like that chapter 1 is titled “Don’t Be a Prick” «smile»

I’ve enjoyed Michael Lopp’s Rands in Repose blog for many years. Having read his blog I felt that there was no need to buy the book Managing Humans. I was wrong. I needed the book. The book introduced me to many blog posts that I hadn’t read before. Also reading a physical book is “different” than reading online, especially when I’m going to take actions based on it.

If you’re a manager, or mentor, then this is a great resource. Even if you’re not a software development leader, like Lopp, I highly recommend it.

Getting Started with Reading Lopp (aka Rands)

Here are two favourites

  • Stable and Volatiles — If you’ve ever built something then you’ve seen yourself in each role — stable and volatile. The excitement of getting into technical debt and the desire to never be in technical debt again.
  • A Nerd in a Cave — I got ideas from this «laughing»

Fun With Freakonomics *Think Like a Freak*

Think Like A Freak is highly entertaining and informative like the earlier Freakonmics books.

It contains some very useful GEMS.

I especially liked the Incentives 101 summary on page 135.

Number 5 is so ….

5. Never, ever think that people will do something just because it is the “right” thing to do.

Incentives 101

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I had the pleasure of attending a talk by Steven Levitt at UBC a few years back when “Think Like A Freak” came out. I’m glad I’ve finally read the book.

Important Reading *A Bigger Prize* by Margaret Heffernan

Margaret Heffernan’s recent book on the topic of Competition is an important read. Her view of competition will really mess with your current views. Guaranteed. It is worth the effort.

Yes that means that A Bigger Prize: How We Can Do Better than the Competition is tough going. The final paragraph of Harvey Schachter’s great review is spot on.

She goes on and on, not just listing the damages she ascribes to competition but also indicating why the alternative, collaboration, is preferred. It’s sobering reading, well researched and illuminating in its examples and scope.
Harvey Schachter – Globe & Mail

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