The Heart’s Intuitive Intelligence

Last Thursday, I had a meeting with a business colleague.  We had only met once before – but somehow the energy felt really good between us.  Conversation flowed.  Ideas bubbled to the surface.  Creative spirit abounded.

During the conversation, it became apparent that I had talked in our previous meeting about intuition.  I had forgotten this – but it  is something I have recently become very interested in.  In summary, it’s the idea that the world is far too “mental” and that many have lost touch with their intuitive guidance system – based around the heart.  I’m also a strong believer in the idea that everything is connected.

And so it was, just by chance (as happens when browsing the internet) I came across this video below:

I don’t know too much about the organisation behind the video – but just love the overall theme, messages and visuals.  It somehow helps us to remember things we have forgotten or lost – so we can get back into the life-force and remember who we are.

Sit back and enjoy!

Share

Blowing the Fibre

Today, the Parish of Goudhurst and Kilndown in rural Kent (which is where we live) came one step closer to achieving what most others in the UK have access to…..

It wasn’t fresh water.  That has been flowing freely from boreholes and the local reservoir at Bewl Water for quite a while.

It wasn’t gas.  Goudhurst used to have gas – but the Gas Works blew up in the 1948 – a few weeks before all gas works were nationalized.  Coincidence or dodgy insurance claims, no one quite knows.

It wasn’t electricity.  That has been delivered to all of the Parish since about 2006 when the folk in Bedgebury Forest came onto the Grid.

It wasn’t being connected to the mains sewage.  Our house still has a septic tank at the bottom of the garden.

What it was that we came one step closer to getting half of the Parish – perhaps more – onto Superfast Broadband.

The next stage of the scheme is due to go live next week – in time for the end of June go-live for four of the cabinets in the village to be fibred-up to Superfast Broadband.  And the spectacle today was watching the fibre being blown down the plastic ducts that have been laid under all the key roads in the village.

The event went off without an audience – large or small.  Simply two engineers diligently waiting whilst the meter showed how far the end of the fibre had been blown.  The fibre wrapped over the right arm to give it control as it entered the plastic duct pipe.

Looking forward to the fibre being lit next week.  Come on, light my fibre – or something like that!

Share

Mirror > Signal > Manoeuvre

The speed awareness course that I wrote about last week focused on stopping distances.

Since then, I have been thinking a bit more about reaction times – because that is the part that, as a driver, you control.  Once you put your foot on the brake pedal, it is all down to physics.

It also reminded me of the sequence that I was taught when learning to drive: Mirror > Signal > Manoeuvre.

Yet, even before looking in the mirror, there is the thought or intent to move the car in a new or different direction.

So the whole sequence looks something like: Thought > Intent > Mirror > Signal > Manoeuvre.

And that got me thinking about work.

How often, in business, do we start by looking in the mirror – and we expect to be inspired by looking at the figures of last month’s performance?

Rear-View-Mirror-Sky

 

How often do we start moving things before we signal to the wider group affected by the change?

In today’s frenetic online world of tweets and likes and such things, the opportunity to act without thinking, to press the “Buy Me Now” button before remembering you already have enough (books, clothes, food…<insert your particular collection obsession here>) for your needs.

How often do we act before we think about the consequences?

How often do we manoeuvre before thinking?

And what about this strange word, Manoeuvre.  Is it spelt right?  And what does it really mean?

I looked up the second part of the word (oeuvre) and found this:

OEUVRE = A work of art – Synonym = Work

Etymology:  Today’s word was borrowed so recently from French, we have not yet resolved its pronunciation in English. It devolved from Latin opera “works,” the plural of “opus.” Sanskrit apas “work” and German üben “practice, exercise” derive from the same ultimate root.

The interesting thing, I find, is that holidays a good time to move out of work mode and into work of art mode.  It allows you to look at your life as the creation of a series of works of art and puts a different emphasis on the process or the day-to-day grind and allows you to review your creations in the past year and those that you wish to create in the coming year.  I always have a small notebook handy so I can jot down ideas on new works of art.  Notebooks are much more fluid than a smartphone.  Not sure yet whether an iPad is as good.  Don’t think it is.

So, basically, before you start the next round of  your Man-Work (or Woman-Work), it is best to take time to think.  Think about signalling to those around you that you are going to create this new work of art – and even before that it is worth looking in the mirror to check there is no one behind you that is going to get in your way.  Oh – and before ALL of that, it is worth thinking about the implications of changing direction and creating new works of art that might affect other users of the road you have chosen.

Have a great holiday if you are still to go – and hope you got inspired if you have already been!  In any case, think before you man-oeuvre your life towards the creation of your new works of art!

Share

Balance in Mind

I have to thank my brother, Angus, for alerting me to this extraordinary video.

There are no words to describe the thoughts you will have once you have watched it:

Share

The Ultimate Purpose of a Bee

Last Sunday, I took my friend Sam to visit my bees.  He has been trying to keep bees for three years – but to no avail.  The last swarm that I gave him on his birthday two years died off the first winter he had them.

And so it was, I was completely charmed that, on Tuesday morning, he rang me to say that a swarm had gathered on the window of his office – exactly above the desk he works at!  We set about to catch them later that day – and yesterday we installed the swarm in one of his new hives not so many miles from here.  I’m sure the bees will stay with him now.

This evening, I came across a beautiful piece by Tolstoy about the ultimate purpose of the honeybee – which I thought I would share with you.  

 It has been a magical and charmed week and the honeybees have truly touched my friend, Sam and me with this amazing encounter.  Long may the honeybees swarm into people’s lives as they did for me so many years ago.

Bee Banner

“As the sun and each atom of ether is a sphere complete in itself, and yet at the same time only a part of a whole too immense for man to comprehend, so each individual has within himself his own aims and yet has them to serve a general purpose incomprehensible to man.

A bee settling on a flower has stung a child. And the child is afraid of bees and declares that bees exist to sting people.

A poet admires the bee sucking from the chalice of a flower and says it exists to suck the fragrance of flowers.

A beekeeper, seeing the bee collect pollen from flowers and carry it to the hive, says that it exists to gather honey.

Another beekeeper who has studied the life of the hive more closely says that the bee gathers pollen dust to feed the young bees and rear a queen, and that it exists to perpetuate its race.

A botanist notices that the bee flying with the pollen of a male flower to a pistil fertilizes the latter, and sees in this the purpose of the bee’s existence.

Another, observing the migration of plants, notices that the bee helps in this work, and may say that in this lies the purpose of the bee.

But the ultimate purpose of the bee is not exhausted by the first, the second, or any of the processes the human mind can discern.

The higher the human intellect rises in the discovery of these purposes, the more obvious it becomes, that the ultimate purpose is beyond our comprehension.

All that is accessible to man is the relation of the life of the bee to other manifestations of life. And so it is with the purpose of historic characters and nations.”

Extracted rom Leo Tolstoy’s War & Peace: Chapter IV

You can also find this, and other bee stories on one of my other blogs – http://beelore.com/2007/08/07/the-ultimate-purpose-of-the-bee/

Photo from iStockphoto

Share

The Lords’ Verdict

For those who have followed this blog for a while, you will know I presented evidence at the House of Lords’ inquiry on the present UK’s government’s policy on Next Generation Broadband.  So it was at midnight on Tuesday, the Lords published their report which can be found <HERE> entitled “Broadband for all – an alternative vision”.

Lord Inglewood was interviewed in a video:

“Our communications network must be regarded as a strategic, national asset.  The Government’s strategy lacks just that – strategy.  

The complex issues involved were not thought through from first principle and it is far from clear that the Government’s policy will deliver the broadband infrastructure that we need – for profound social and economic reasons – for the decades to come.”

The report has had a mixed response.  Supporters of a truly open-access fit-for-purpose National internet Infrastructure applauded.

Other analysts were eless complimentary:

Matthew Howett, lead analyst of Ovum’s regulatory practice, said many aspects of the inquiry’s report are “simply odd”.

“With nearly 50 recommendations and no indication of costs or how they should be met, it’s likely to be dismissed as nothing more than a pipe dream,” he said.

Odd it was for me that so many Peers took the time out to learn about the industry and the pros and cons of various options for technology and business models.  It was a piece of work that involved many hours of  their time to see the problem from different perspectives.  It challenged the status-quo and came up with an alternative vision for what the UK’s national internet access infrastructure might look like.  It was bound to be unpopular in certain quarters as it threatened the status-quo.

Sure, the government and BT’s in-house analysts might dismiss the ideas as pipe-dreams, but one wonders where the whole BDUK process is heading.  It might be the Games in London – but this particular game will go one well into the Autumn after all the athletes have left London.

It is definitely time for the status-quo to be challenged.  BDUK is at best a strange construction and at worst a totally bonkers policy for a government set on Localism and Community Engagement.  The Lords’ report went to the heart of this matter and has suggested a framework for a truly revolutionary approach to fixing the monopoly of BT’s infrastructure – particularly in the middle-mile.

At times, I think of giving up banging this drum and doing something more conventional and toe-the-line.  Yet at one minute past midnight on Tuesday, I had a new surge of enthusiasm that the ideas that we have been working on for several years now are getting some traction and that a body of revered and highly intelligent Peers actually understood what many on the fringes of the industry have been saying for a while.

If only the Government could stand back and listen to some of the concerns about the current vision and understand that they have alternatives that are better, faster and cheaper that will help the UK’s international competitiveness, we  might actually come up with something that really does get the economy back on its feet in a fairer way, based on an infrastructure that no single part is too big to fail.  Surely there is a lesson here from the banking system that is staring us in the face?

Come on, Jeremy.  Put the bell head back on the stick, put the bell down and start listening again.  Unless, of course, you get reshuffled – in which case it is round-and-round we go!

Source of quote and more on this story at:

http://www.cbronline.com/news/lords-uk-broadband-strategy-heading-in-the-wrong-direction-010812 

http://www.totaltele.com/view.aspx?ID=475352&G=1&C=4&page=3

 

 

Share

The Scale of Things

I was chatting to Oscar the other night and he pointed me to a really interesting site:

If the frame above does not work for you, then you can link to the site HERE.  It makes you think how extraordinarily small in the Universe we are.  And how big we are too!  If you did not see my previous entry, the great 1977 video from IBM: “The Powers of Ten”, then have a look at that too.

The day before, I had come across another rather more abstract view that sets a new world record for representing a Mandelbrot Set – which gives a bit more of a zany trip towards infinity.

Oscar liked it – and called it “trippy”!

I hope these two views stretch your mind to think a bit more about our place in the Universe, touching both your left and right brains.

As ever, please feel free to comment below.

Share

Everything will be All Right in the End…..

Susie, my wife, booked us to go and see a film on Sunday evening – “The best exotic Marigold Hotel”.   A very funny film and well worth watching!  You can’t leave the film and not remember the line that one of the leading characters, Sonny, keeps saying throughout the film:

“Everything will be all right in the end; if it’s not alright then it’s not the end.”

Apparently this is a quote of the Brazilian writer Fernando Sabino: “No fim tudo dá certo, e se não deu certo é porque ainda não chegou ao fim” – but I am not sure if he really was the originator or not.  Doesn’t matter.  It is a great quote.  Actually, Susie has often quoted the first bit at me and it is strange, but somehow, everything always does work out in the end….

Anyway, it got me thinking back to the Thursday Thoughts theme two weeks ago about optimism – and the Optimist’s Creed.

And so it was that last night I got to Chapter 24 in Daniel Kahneman’s Book “Thinking, fast and slow” (which I started to review last week) only to find that  this chapter – entitled “The Engine of Capitalism” is all about optimism too!  Or perhaps, more accurately, over-optimism.  Coincidence or what?

Kahneman summarises in a section entitled COMPETITION NEGLECT:

“It is tempting to explain entrepreneurial optimism by wishful thinking, but emotion is only part of the story.  Cognitive biases play an important role, notably the System 1 WYSIATI (What you see is all there is):

  • We focus on our goal, anchor on our plan, and neglect relevant base rates, exposing ourselves to the planning fallacy.
  • We focus on what we want to do and can do, neglecting the plans and skills of others
  • Both in explaining the past and in predicting the future, we focus on the causal role of skill and neglect the role of luck.  we are therefore prone to an illusion of control.
  • We focus on what we know and neglect what we do not know, which makes us overly confident in our beliefs.

What was more extraordinary is that as I was reading this, a good friend and follower of this stream, David Brunnen wrote to me and  sent me this link: http://www.innovationpolicy.org/my-new-book-title-eh-the-future-will-be-okay   with the  comment: “Worth a read I think – partly because of his realistic assessment of US R&D funding and partly because Rob gets close to the tendency that has long-plagued the ICT world – eternal optimism and hype.” 

Even more coincidence.  Anyone else thinking about optimism, over-optimism and the way we think about the future?  Please join in the flow by commenting below!

Share

Thinking, Fast and Slow

I was browsing the bookshelves in a provincial airport lounge last month.  I really like browsing business books in these sorts of places (as opposed to ordering books from Amazon).  You find things you would not normally find and you can pick them up and read the gist of what the book is about in a very tactile way.  Something Kindle struggles with, I think.

Anyway, I came across a what looked like interesting title “Thinking, Fast and Slow”.  Being one always on the look-out for new Thursday Thoughts, I bought it and have started to read it…

The book is written by Daniel Kahneman who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002 for his pioneering work, developed with Amos Tversky, on decision-making and uncertainty.

Interestingly, there is a quote on the front cover by Steven Pinker which says “(Kahneman is) certainly the most important psychologist alive today”  I thought the blend of economics and psychology would be interesting – and I have not been disappointed!

To begin with, Kahneman’s says that we all have two “systems” of thought.  He adopts terms originally proposed by the psychologists Keith Stanovich and Richard West referring to two systems in the mind: System 1 and System 2.  Thee labels of System 1 and System 2 are, apparently, widely used in psychology.  For those of you, like me, who are mere lay-folk in the art of psycho-babble, this was news!

Here is an extract from the introduction which outlines the two systems:

“When we think of ourselves, we identify with System 2, the conscious, reasoning self that has beliefs, makes choices and decides what to think about and what to do.  Although System 2 believes itself to be where the action is, the automatic System 1 is the hero of the book.”

Kahneman describes System 1 as: “effortlessly originating impressions and feelings that are the main sources of the explicit beliefs and deliberate choices of System 2”.

In rough order of complexity, he describes some examples of the automatic activities that are attributed to System 1:

  • Detect that one object is more distant than another
  • Orient to the source of a sudden sound
  • Complete the phrase “bread and…..”
  • Make a “disgust face” when shown a horrible picture
  • Detect hostility in a voice
  • Answer to 2 + 2 = ?
  • Read words on large billboards
  • Drive a car on an empty road
  • Find a strong move in chess (if you are a chess master)
  • Understand simple sentences
  • Recognise that a “meek and tidy soul with a passion for detail” resembles and occupational stereotype

The highly diverse operations of System 2 have one feature in common: the require attention and are disrupted when attention is drawn way.  Here are some examples:

  • Brace for the starter-gun in a race
  • Focus attention on the clowns in the circus
  • Focus on the voice of a particular person in a crowded and noisy room
  • Look for a woman with white hair
  • Search memory to identify a surprising sound
  • Maintain a faster walking speed than is natural for you
  • Monitor the appropriateness of your behaviour in a social situation
  • Count the occurrences of the letter  a in a page of text
  • Tell someone your phone number
  • Park in a narrow space (for oct people except garage attendants)
  • Campare two washing machines for overall value
  • Fill out a tax form
  • Check the validity of a complex logical argument

The interesting thing that I have learnt so far is that we use System 1 and System 2 interchangeably throughout the day – and each system performs very important and different functions.  Kahneman’s main thesis is that the intuitive (System 1) often arrives at a conclusion or judgement without the detailed logical evidence for that decision being through by System 2.  There are many examples he gives where this is so – and here is one of them from page 43 of the book:

“A disturbing demonstration of depletion effects in judgement was recently reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  The unwitting participants in the study were eight parole judges in Israel.  They spend entire days reviewing applications for parole.  The cases are presented in random order, and the judges spend little time on each one, an average of 6 minutes. (The default decision is denial of parole; only 35% of requests are approved.  The exact time of each decision is recorded, and the times of the judges’ three food breaks – morning break, lunch and afternoon break – during the day are recorded as well.)

The authors of the study plotted the proportion of approved requests against the time  since the last food break.  The proportion spikes after each meal, when about 65% of requests are granted.  During the two hours or so until the next feeding, the approval rate drops steadily, to about zero just before the meal.  As you might expect, this is an unwelcome result and the authors carefully checked many alternative explanations.  The best possible account of the data provides bad news: tired and hungry judges tend to fall back on the easier default position of denying requests for parole.  Both fatigue and hunger probably play a role.”

The book is certainly worth a read and I hope that even these small excerpts have make you think – even if only to understand we all have two systems of thinking that dance to the daily cycles of our more basic animal behaviours – and that, for all important decisions, gut-feel or intuition is not enough and that it is important to engage System 2.  An aspect of thinking I sometimes struggle with!  And it appears I am not alone – since the book highlights this as one of the main causes of human suffering in the world today.

Graphic from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/evalottchen/6352121909/in/photostream/

Share

On Sustaining the Gains (and Losses)

You are probably past the point of setting New Year’s resolutions and have forgotten the one you set last year.  Yet when you look back a year and look forward a year, it is surprising how little changes and how much stays the same.

Sure, 2011 was turbulent for many.  In Europe, we seemed to leave the year with an uneasy sense of unknowingness about what lies ahead in 2012 for the Eurozone.  And we are told that the world is now so connected that we don’t need New York to sneeze before the rest of the world catches a cold.  The sneeze could come from Berlin or Beijing or anywhere else for that matter.

Yet there is nothing like a conscience and a critical review to remind you of what you committed to and what you forecast might happen…. And writing a blog is somehow a very public way of saying that I commit to something at the start of a New Year.

So it was that I was surprised to find that I went public this time last year to reduce my bodyweight.  Apparently this is the most common New Year’s resolution that people make.  I did actually manage to lose a stone between January and April last year – only to put on 9 pounds between April and Christmas!

So often, (in weight loss AND in business performance), the gains are difficult enough to achieve – but even harder to sustain.  It is not that my body needs to be as heavy as it is.  It is more about habit – and changing the habits that have been laid down over a lifetime.  It didn’t take much for me to revert to my old habits as the summer came and the bees started to make honey!

Reading the press over the New Year, it was interesting to see that the UK population has become more and more obese – and some say over 35% is now obese.  As has the banking system and, perhaps many of the service organisations that try to service our needs – or so the current UK government thinks.

So the question for me is how to we can reduce weight and sustain a healthy lifestyle in a world that seems to becoming more obese.

My diet last year where I managed to lose a stone in weight was not really a diet.  I never felt hungry the whole time I was on the regime.  I simply reduced the number of calories I ate.

In a similar way, the two puppies that we took on in September are a good weight – because they get fed the correct amount of food each day.  It is interesting, also, that we have never been as healthy as our parents and grandparents were the 1940s when the country had food rationing.

It is not so much, then, about reducing weight.  It is more about eating the correct amount you need to achieve and maintain a natural bodyweight.

So, for this year, as well as reducing weight (another stone would do), I resolve to try to sustain the weight loss.  I would also like to do the reverse for my business – increase the revenues and sustain the flow!  Funny that in March last year I earned the most in a month when my weight reduced the most!

Maybe one idea works with the other.  Who knows?  Maybe the Lean Folk know.  Makes you think, anyway!

Share