Thank Goodness It’s Monday #212
WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND?
A BRAIN DUMP FROM MINE
I’m on the road again, on the West Coast for a 10 day sojourn that involves a bit of business and a bit of pleasure.
Perhaps because it’s an environment and routine somewhat different from the usual, when I’m on the go like this my “What will the next TGIM message be?” inclination changes frequently with the exposure to new folks and their interests.
So, as I’ve done from time to time, I’m not going to sort it out.
Instead, partly for fun … partly to summarize for my benefit … and partly to tickle your gray matter, here’s a roundup of some of the notes I’ve made to/for myself in the past several days. (As many of you who I’ve met face-to-face know, I’m hardly ever without a couple of pens and a big old beat-up 3-subject spiral notebook in which I write all sorts of stuff. Consider this a peek into that collection of “stuff.”)
Here’s my brain dump and some off-the-top-of-my-head TGIM Takeaways/Challenges:
● What’s in a word? Real working-in-the-lab scientists continue to quantify what Eric and I and scores of other self-improvement devotees have been extolling for years: Language shapes our thoughts. In a series of experiments, Lera Boroditsky, a psychologist at Stanford University amassed evidence that “even a small fluke of grammar” – the gender of nouns – “can have an effect on how people think about things in the world.”
Case in point: German newspaper reports concerning the opening of the tallest bridge in the world, described how it “floated above the clouds” with “elegance and lightness” and “breathtaking” beauty. In France, the home of this romantic bridge, newspapers praised the “immense” “concrete giant.”
Coincidence? Boroditsky thinks not. For German speakers, the word for bridge – Brücke – is feminine. In French, pont is masculine. Thus the descriptive differences. Folks see more of what their language mindset has conditioned them to see. The Stanford investigation has scores and scores of other quantifiable observations about how language affects thought from societies around world.
TGIM Challenge: If you’ve ever been a scoffer at practices such as repeating correctly worded and structured “affirmations” or “the power of positive thinking” – think again. Boroditsky’s amassed evidence suggests that how we perceive the words we choose and use to talk and think about what concerns us powerfully influences our behaviors, opinions and outcomes.
● The Lanterne Rouge. Speaking of speaking French and how things are perceived, the French phrase Lanterne Rogue refers to the red lantern hung on the caboose of a railway train, which conductors would look for in order to make sure none of the couplings had become disconnected.
It is also the competitor in last place in a cycling race such as the Tour de France.
Our friend the Sales Mastermind Jeffrey Gitomer is fond of pointing out, in sales, the “runner up” in any sales competition is, as he likes to blurt out, “First Loser!” Funny and a point strongly made.
But not always correct.
In the Tour de France the rider who finishes last, rather than dropping out along the way, is accorded a distinction. Riders may compete to come last rather than just near the back. Often the rider who comes last is remembered, while those a few places ahead are forgotten. The revenue the last rider will generate from later appearance fees can be greater than had he finished second to last.
This year, before an accident forced him out of the Tour, last year’s Lanterne Rogue, Kenny Robert van Hummel, said, “I know I’m in last place, but this race is very long and difficult. I did two hours more cycling than the leaders, so maybe that shows that in my head, maybe, I am really strong.”
TGIM Takeaway: Positive self talk matters. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. You may not win the yellow jersey or the big prize, but you can still be a winner if you apply yourself.
● Ivy League life lessons. The compelling life story of Sonia Sotomayor, the latest candidate for Supreme Court Justice, includes the transition from New York City parochial school where students were taught, first and foremost, to obey authority to Princeton which she called “an alien land for me.”
How to survive? Princeton history professor and Sotomayor’s freshman year mentor Peter Winn recalled: “She was clearly very intelligent and engaged, but very rough. She was intimidated. She didn’t speak in class. She had no idea what she was getting into.”
Until she mastered –
Winn’s Rule: “Be critical of everything — especially things you agree with.”
Payoff: With that guidance, she became a true “all-rounder” valued by the University for working within the system to transform the school from an old-boy bastion to a multicultural meritocracy. In her senior year Sotomayor won the Pyne Prize, Princeton’s highest award, for the student who combines scholarship with leadership in campus organizations.
TGIM Challenge: Need change in your life? Be a Winn-er. “Be critical of everything — especially things you agree with.”
● The heart of darkness. My airplane reading for this trip was a book by historian Basil Davidson, The Lost Cities of Africa that harkens back to the time when Europeans thought the oral histories of sub-Saharan Africans were composed largely of myth and fanciful legends. Explorer Emil Torday was not precisely one of these but he was skeptical about much of what he heard, until –
Many hundreds of miles up the Congo River and still further into the heart of Africa he was recording the remembered past of a particular tribe, backtracking trough a list of 120 kings. It was splendid Torday felt, but was it history? He thought it unlikely any of these kings could be linked to any “date” in the history of the rest of the world.
But quite suddenly, he recounts, he had this experience:
“As the elders we’re talking of the great events of various reigns, and came to the ninety-eighth chief, they said that nothing remarkable had happened during his reign, except that one day the sun went out, and there was absolute darkness for a short time.”
It’s like a corny bit of fiction, but … Torday’s story continues: “… months later the date of the eclipse became known to me … the thirtieth of March, 1680. There was no possibility of confusion … because this was the only one visible in the region during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.”
TGIM Challenge: It’s important to remain open to possibility; that in the facts and enthusiastic living of every day we create our own history. More than the challenges and battles we face, it’s the enthusiastic expectation and pursuit of the possibilities we may uncover that frees us from the trapped mindset that snares the close-minded and moves us forward.
So then –
Brain dump or mind meld here? If these tidbits awaken you to new or enlightening experience, if even one helps you see what might otherwise go unnoticed in your day, cool. If just one suggests that a change in your routine would stimulate a different point of view with the potential to lead to breakthrough thinking, excellent.
Staying open to the possibilities.
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P.S. Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was an English philosopher, statesman, scientist, lawyer, jurist, and author who said, “If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts he shall end in certainties.”
P.P.S. As always, please consider the merits of the Best Year Ever Program. To learn more, click through HERE.