Route in life

Do you also intent to follow the simplest, direct or easiest route in Life?
Right you are….
Going from A to B in life is like a risk management game.
As the captain of your Body&Mind-Ship (BMS) heading for a New Land at Port Novaya Zemlya, you’ll have three starting issues:

Three starting issues

  1. Define your target (B): Know where you want to go in life
  2. Define your starting point (A): Know Where an Who you are in life
  3. Define your Route: Know How you want to go from A to B

In terms of risk management there are two main targets:

Main Risk Management Targets

  1. Long term Target
    Reach your final target (Novvaya Zemlya)
  2. Short term Target
    Avoid short time risks, tackle problems along the way (avoid ice floes)

So, what kind of approach is right for reaching your goal?

  • If you concentrate too much in life on your ‘final goal’ or you want to achieve your goals too fast or too direct, you’ll certainly hit a short term problem, like an ice floe, and end up crashed as a hero or a martyr.
  • If you concentrate too much on the short term problems in your life, you’ll loose sight on your final goal and certainly fail to reach Novaya Zemlya.
The solution of this paradox is (of course) to concentrate on the short term goals as well as keep an eye on the long term goal at the same time.

The optimal route?
But what is the best strategy for finding the optimal route in life?
Take a look at the next map to find out the best strategy for this ship.

Strategy I: Don’t think, go to your target in a straight line
The most logical route from A to B would of course be a straight line. However following this line as a blind man would certainly lead to failure.

Strategy II: Keep as much is possible to the straight line
As BMS captain might look like the ‘best strategy’ solution. This is how we often directly respond in life when we do not succeed in getting what we want the way we planned it.
Often this route is 2 to 3 times longer than the ‘straight line route’ and does not always guarantee that you reach your goal in the labyrinth of life.
As mostly in life , the best advice is….

Strategy III: Get help and plan!
As BMS captain with the right attitude and perseverance to succeed, you consult your friends and foes and draw yourself the best possible satellite map, so that you’ll be able to oversee the ‘seascape’ of your life, with all relevant problems, like ice foes ahead.
Often this optimal ice route is 1.5 times longer than the ‘straight line route’, but it guarantees the highest success rate.

But what to do if you have no information at all? That’s when thinking and mathematics come in, or it gets time for an alternative approach before you freeze in reaching for Novvaya Zemlya….

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Moving Targets

I once asked one of my business unit managers with regard to an important project, if he was still on course and how things were going.

He answered friendly:
My ship’s on course……
But the port moves !

Sometimes, when you are totally focused on achieving your predefined goals, when you’re right on schedule and your project looks perfect…… You can be sure your project will fail. Why? Because while working on your project the environment changes, so you need somebody in your project that constantly checks the defined project targets against the changing environment.

So always, while working keep your head up!

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We all want to be successful. But what is success?

Success could perhaps be defined as achieving the Result you want by using your core Qualities at the right Time given the right Circumstances (place,people,weather, atmosphere).

In formula: R = Q x T x C

Another way of looking at success has been defined by Hevizi:

It’s not WHAT you know.
It is not WHO you know.
It is not HOW you deliver.
It is ALL of it.

In the new world of tough competition for positions, careers and recognition it is important to remind ourselves that it takes 3 to be successful and compete.

We can look at this as the following formula:


Success explained
A more sophisticated, humorous yet interesting approach of success has been defined by Alain de Botton in the next TED video. Alain examines our ideas of success and failure:
Is what you define as success really your personal defined success or perhaps the unconscious copied succes definition of somebody else?

He points out that believing in winners and loosers is a narrow and wrong way of defining the world. On top of this, he gives randomness a place in the definition of success and stresses that there can be no success without loss….

Wrapped up, success could be defined as being satisfied and happy with your choices, actions, gains and losses…..

So never give up, discover the secrets of success and enjoy it!

Youtube Success Links:
Quest for success
Success by Deepak Chopra

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Crisis: Don’t slam the brakes on

Dutch Minister of Health, Ab Klink, recently stated the Dutch Cabinet:
My father always said: As your caravan starts to snake (roll), don’t slam the breaks on, but (gently) accelerate.

Although this wisdom could apply in certain circumstances, generally it’s not true.

When your caravan is snaking, it’s best to follow the next DSA advice:
Don’t brake harshly or you could loose control completely. Don’t accelerate either, for the same reasons. Just simply ease off the accelerator until the unit is brought back under control.

Sometimes in relationships, with heart/mind problems or in crisis situations this is the best advice as well. Don’t drop down or let go all things around you and don’t try to force your way out. Simply let go the accelerator and wait for things to stabilize until you’ll get grip on the situation again.

In general, to prevent snaking life situations as much as possible, surround yourself with stabilizers, e.g. ‘good advice friends’. Good friends keep each other on the road.

Caravan Rules of thumb
Caravan Formules

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Influenced Decisions

We all think our decisions are made in a professional and rational manner.

Too bad, nothing is less is true! Decisions are strongly influenced by the way we present our proposals.

Influenced Decisions
In a splendid TED Video Presentation called ‘Are we in control of our own decisions‘ (half an our fun and learning!) , Dan Ariely, an Israeli professor of behavioral economics and head of the eRationality research group at the MIT Media Lab, shows the astonishing effect of how decisions can be fundamentally changed by adding dummies in proposals:

First experiment
Ariely tested the next ad on the website of the on a group of 100 MIT students:

As expected, most students wanted the combo deal (84%). Students can read, so nobody wanted the middle option.

But now, if you have an option nobody wants, you can take it off. Right? So Ariely tested another version of this ad on another group of students, eliminating the middle option. This is what happened:

Now the most popular option (84%) suddenly became the least popular (32%). And the least popular (16%) became the most popular (68%) option.

What happened was that the ‘useless’ option in the middle, was useless in the sense that nobody wanted it. But it wasn’t useless in the sense that it helped people figure out what they wanted. In fact, relative to the option in the middle, which was get only the print for $125, the print and web for $125 looked like a fantastic deal. And as a consequence, people chose it.

The general idea here is that we actually don’t know our preferences that well. And because we don’t know our preferences that well we’re susceptible to all of these influences from the external forces.

Second experiment
People believe that when they see somebody, they immediately know whether they like that person or not. Ariely decided to put this statement to the test.

He showed his students a picture of Tom and a picture of Jerry (real people in practice). Then he asked “Who do you want to date? Tom or Jerry?” But for half the people he added a slightly less attractive (photoshopped) version of Jerry. For the other half of the students he added a slightly less attractive (ugly) version of Tom.

Now the question was, will ugly Jerry and ugly Tom help their respective, more attractive brothers?

The answer was absolutely YES. When ugly Jerry was around, Jerry was popular. When ugly Tom was around, Tom was popular.

Conclusions: The Dummy Effect
What can we conclude from these two experiments?

  • When you let people chose between two options, their decision might be positively influenced by adding a third ‘slightly less attractive version’ (the dummy) of the option you value as most favorable. So decisions are susceptible to options manipulation.

  • Be aware of the Dummy-Effect when someone adds a dummy option in a choice you’ll have to make. If your decision without the dummy is not the same as with the dummy option, try to investigate why. Don’t take a decision until you’ve found out why.
  • Both decisions, with or without dummies, are ‘rational’.
    Therefore your ‘rational decision’ depends more than you’re inclined you think on the character, the completeness and the description of the options. Your personal preference becomes more or less irrelevant if the options are incomplete. So think twice about possible ‘missing options’ before you take a final decision.

From now on…
Now that you’ve become aware of this dummy-effect, life will never be the same again. You’ve become conscious of the way the options in a proposal can influence a decision. This gives you the opportunity to take more enriched decisions. It also places you in a more responsible position when you develop proposals for others. Straight proposals will be ‘cleaner’ than before (‘undummied’) and also include an explanation about the way a proposal is structured and presented.

– Book Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
– MIT Center for future banking

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Job Application Interview

Do you recognize the flabbergasted feeling that occurs when, after a ‘splendid’ job interview, you come home with a positive feeling and the day after you are rejected?

Although you thought you performed well in the interview, somewhere, somehow, you missed the boat.

What went wrong?

Well, apart from the general pitfalls in a job interview and the trivial explanations of a rejection, most probably things went wrong due to lack of proper communication.

Probably, when you’re having an interview, you’ll take notes.
Because you’re focused on getting the job, you’re inclined to (only) write down the positive aspects of the job and the conversation.

This will definitely give you a biased view on the outcome of the interview. You simply miss or underestimate the minor or negative remarks in the interview.

How to solve this?

This is what you can do to get a more realistic idea about the outcome of the interview.

  • Listen
    First of all, make sure you listen well.

  • Take Notes
    Be careful not just to write down your personally important or spectacular issues (e.g salary, benefits, car, etc), but especially note (and write down!) small remarks, advices or ‘used adjectives’ of the interviewer.
  • Split in Negatives and Positives
    Split your note paper in left and right, and put the positive issues (the Positives) on one side and the negative issues (the Negatives) on the other side.
  • Manage the Negatives
    Make sure to write down every single negative issue or negative adjective, no matter how small. Don’t ignore these Negatives. By questioning, make sure you understand them right and manage them one by one. If you’re not able to get those negatives from the table or to put them in quarantine, they might kill you in the end without you realizing it. So:
    Manage the Negatives instead of counting the Positives

  • Feedback
    At the end of the conversation ask for feedback and check by asking the interviewer to summarize your Positives and Negatives. If any Negatives are left, handle them with care right there.
  • Don’t fake
    Don’t try to reason away negatives that are clear facts. If that would imply a rejection, be happy, because you are not qualified for this job and therefor wouldn’t be happy in this job as well.

Evaluating an interview is not simply balancing Positives with Negatives. Even a single Negative can screw it up.

Anyway, this Positives/Negatives Method is not only applicable in case of a job interview, but can be used in every “beauty parade”, contract negotiation or proposal you try to defend.

Next time, with a positive attitude, keep your ‘sixth sense’ on the potential Negatives and manage them!

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Time Perspective

According to Philip Zimbardo, we all develop a specific attitude towards time (Time perspective).

Past, present or future orientated?
In The Time paradox Zimbardo explains that people turn out to be primarily past, present or future orientated. Each perspective has a detailed possible orientation (focus):

It’s clear that our now-actions strongly depend on our perception of the present and the future. This perception has has been influenced by how we perceived the past. Therefore, our future actions will be influenced by how we perceive the present – as it appears to us right now – as well.

Form this we may conclude that our future happiness is strongly defined by how (positive) we experience the ‘now’.

Experiencing the ‘now’ as a positive and constructive phase in your life, even in times of adversities, demands a conscious mind and a healthy style of thinking.

Healthy thinkstyle perspective

Based on research and his own definition of a ‘healthy thinkstyle’ in life , Zimbardo developed an ideal time perspective score (red dots):

Take the test
If you wonder what your Time perspective score is, take the test:

Take the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory

Changing Time Perspective
As you grow up, your Time-perspective changes.
When you’re young, you’re almost not influenced by your past and you don’t worry about your future, you just live in the present and simply take what comes.

As you grow up, you’ve learned from the past and become conscious of the consequences of your actions. You think about your future, feel responsibility and are able to postpone actual benefits in exchange for (more or increased) future benefits.

When we grow old, the past will influence and determine our actions more and more until our last phase in life, where future and present transform in a kind of transcendental state. In this stage your present and decisions are from another order. Physically you’re here on good old earth, but in a spiritual way you’ve already risen to your new destiny…..

However, back to the present., Zimbardo continues that living in the present can also be in a Zen-like perspective, illustrated by the next sanskrit verse:

Yesterday is already a dream and tomorrow but a vision
But today ‘well lived’ makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope

So it’s you who can create a heaven on earth.

Use Zimbardo’s time-perspective to be(come) like you wanna be.

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