Monday, August 8, 2022

Maximize your mindset with these tips


  1. How can you better adopt a “systems” mindset to maximize your creative output while minimizing your time and effort?
    Self-improvement and personal development are about improving your memory, mind, thinking, and decisions. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I want to produce better results over time. I want to achieve bigger goals while working less and putting in less effort; that’s leverage. When I think about the long-term vision of my life, I’m tired of trying to become this superhuman optimized machine-like entity.

    Instead, I want to create systems. And so your job is not to do the work; your job is to create the systems that do the work. It’s a decoupling of the value you’re creating from the hours you’re putting into your business and career. It’s such a subtle but huge shift; that’s what a second brain is. It’s a system; it’s a point of leverage for you to create, be more productive, and make more creative outputs, decisions, and experiences without having to just pour in more and more of your own time and effort.
  2. How can you create a second brain to better unlock your creative potential?
    A second brain is a system of personal knowledge management. It’s not as simple as downloading an app; you need three things to build a second brain: the tool, the behavior, and the mindset. 
    • The Tool: The best tool is the simple notes app you likely already have on your digital devices. The power of note-taking comes in its informality. How many great ideas come from a whiteboard session, all these scribbles and crazy diagrams, and suddenly something emerges. Creativity cannot be rigid and precise; it needs to be messy and somewhat chaotic. We can have that kind of messiness and chaos while also benefiting from the incredible capabilities of technology if we get those ideas and capture them digitally. 
    • The Behavior: The four-part framework is called code. C-O-D-E stands for capture, organize, distill, and express. Think of it as a production line you adopt as a part of your daily routine. Four things have to happen:
      • Capture: It has to be saved digitally somewhere that you can access
      • Organize: It has to be organized to know what's important, what's not, or what's important in a given situation. 
      • Distill: It has to be boiled down to the essence
      • Express: This is communication. It's to express yourself, your ideas, tell your story, share your message, and make an impact. 
    • The Mindset: People must put aside the note-taking they learned in school and consider note-taking as a companion to their ongoing learning. There’s a big return on investment here: the notes you take can become part of your lifelong learning of projects and goals. Your second brain is like the map of everything you’re undergoing on your journey that you might want to reference in the future, which is a much more long-term perspective.
  3. How can you better filter what you capture and what you leave behind to maximize saving only the most transformative insights?
    The best filter requires a simple adjustment toward what is surprising and what resonates with you. You can’t use too much energy or intellectual effort at the capture stage because not much value is created there. Instead, the value is created when you organize, distill, and express. You need capture to be so low effort and frictionless that it is much more effective over the long term to use emotions like surprise or resonance to decide what to keep.

    I see how people read and highlight. They’re highlighting every remotely good idea, stuff they already know and agree with. Instead, save very sparingly. Only keep the highlights that blow your mind—the ones that are so surprising they make you stop and sit back, almost like you’re in shock. 

    Your second brain is like a CliffsNotes, a portable collection you have of the key points to remind you that they exist and what they are. Once you’ve retrieved it, you can spend all the time you want going back and finding all the details, but the key is finding that genuinely moving piece of information and capturing it effortlessly.
  4. How can you implement the PARA framework to supercharge organizing your digital life?
    CODE is how to take action and move information from input to output. PARA is how you store things. It’s the organizational hierarchy, but the key is instead of a vast system, like a library with categories and subcategories, there are only four categories:

    P - Projects which are currently active
    A - Areas of ongoing responsibilities in your work and life 
    R - Resources that you’re collecting
    A - Archives are everything from the past that is no longer active

    It’s a simple hierarchy. There’s a project folder and then a folder for each project. There are two levels. You can’t go down more than two levels. You can start this in 60 seconds. Go into your notes app, or whatever program you’re using, and create one folder for each active project you’re working on. This exercise is really powerful. People are like, “What’s the big deal? I know what I’m working on.” I would suggest you don’t. You have projects in the back of your mind and projects on the back burner; you have projects that you’re working on actively that you haven’t even identified as a project. Making a project list is one of the most powerful exercises to organize your digital life.
  5. How can you leverage the “just in time” approach to maximize executing successful projects?
    A question a lot of people have is when do you do your organizing? You’ve captured all these notes. Do you sit down once a day, once a week, or once a month? 

    My approach to executing projects is called “just in time”. I have no regular cadence because the ideal time to sit down and organize your notes is not on any schedule. It’s the moment you decide to start a project. Think about it. If you’re coming out of a meeting with your boss, they’ve said, “okay, it’s time to redesign the website. This is a top priority project”. The minute that project comes into existence, suddenly, you know what you’re trying to do. Suddenly you have goals, constraints, and you know what the competing priorities are. Five minutes earlier, when that project was not started, what basis would you even organize your notes? According to what?

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

4 actionable takeaways and advice for August 2022

 4 Actionable Takeaways

Take 60 seconds to answer one or more of the following questions -- we also highly encourage you to try this with colleagues and/or loved ones! 
  1. How can you reframe your thinking about the future of geopolitics and strategic competition to maximize the good you can do?
    Whether citizens of different countries, business leaders, or policymakers, we often hear a lot of fatalism in discussions of where the world is going. We hear that competition that leads to conflict and strategic frictions between countries is inevitable. We see that our geopolitical environment is becoming more turbulent but it’s important, as individuals, that we remember our agency and that the world's fate is not just about these abstract structural forces. The structural forces we talk about are ultimately driven by people. The decisions we make determine the decisions that nations make and, therefore, the trajectory of the world.

    It’s important to push back against the sense of fatalism. As a community and as individuals, we need to know we can make a difference, we need to know we have the power to reclaim that sense of agency and say, how can we make this world better?
  2. How can you leverage the concepts of the great power competition and transatlantic challenges to make better decisions for your business, community, and life?
    You need to understand two big buckets if you want to learn more about the world and make better decisions for your business, community, and life.

    The first bucket is the notion of a great power competition which affects politics, business, and our day-to-day lives. It focuses on the United States, China, and Russia- three nuclear-armed powers possessing substantial economies. The United States and China alone account for over 40% of the world’s economy, and have different visions geopolitically and strategically for the world. Whatever your station in life, whatever your vocation, you must focus on what the United States and China are doing.

    At the end of the Cold War, the United States had a particular vision for how it wanted the world to evolve. There was triumphalism in US policymaking and an underestimation that other countries could become more powerful, have different ideologies, and the ability and willingness to push back. We’re seeing this with Russia's invasion of Ukraine. And so, the competitive dynamics between these three great powers concern anyone because they affect geopolitics, which means they affect business.

    The second bucket is what I call transnational challenges—climate change, pandemic disease, macroeconomic stability, energy insecurity, and so on. One of the concerns is that if these three powers allow their competitive dynamics to dominate their relationships, they not only think about cooperation on those transnational challenges as a fool’s errand, but they think cooperation is a demonstration of strategic weakness.

    Suppose national-level governments are increasingly preoccupied with competitive dynamics and unwilling to cooperate, but these challenges are only growing in severity and complexity. Is there a role other actors and communities play in pushing the ball forward and thinking more creatively about diplomacy? There’s a real challenge, but I also believe there’s a real opportunity for communities to move the needle and think creatively about diplomacy going forward.
  3. How can you further overcome the challenges preventing you from becoming a deeply engaged citizen?
    There are three things to focus on to diminish the feelings of isolation and remain a deeply engaged citizen:
    • Remember that most trends are going in the right direction: The rate of extreme poverty and child malnutrition is much lower today than it was several decades ago, and life expectancy is much higher. In many ways, the world is safer, more prosperous, and healthier than it was a few decades ago. 
    • Restore the sense of community: People feel much more anonymous than they did two years ago. Individuals worldwide report dramatically higher rates of isolation, loneliness, and disconnection. When we have a community, we restore that sense of togetherness and that we’re not fighting the good fight alone.
    • Consume more positive news: Axios published an article about how news consumption has declined tremendously. People feel the news is grim. How do we push back on that narrative? The media plays an important role in amplifying good news, spotlighting good trends, and showcasing individuals making a difference. There’s a website called Good News Network, which shares the good news stories you don’t hear about. We need more of those websites. We need to raise those voices and profiles to have a more objective lens.
  4. How can you focus on what you do best, and doing it better, to project quiet confidence to your allies and partners?
    Complacency isn’t good for long-term competitiveness or business leaders, but alarmism and consternation aren’t good either. Instead, focus on doing what you do best and doing it better. You want to look inward and say, “How can we become a more dynamic version of our best selves?” Let’s focus on what the power of our example looks like in practice. How can you recommit to renewal at home and abroad and articulate a positive, affirmative forward-looking vision that speaks to your aspirations more than your anxieties? 

    When you can do that, you’ll be able to mobilize the public. People are more excited when you tell them, “Here’s what we are going to do,” as opposed to just what we’re going to oppose. At a time of intense and growing political polarization, we need a shared project that can galvanize the American people to help them transcend their divisions and project quiet confidence to our allies and partners. 
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