Treat It Like a Diehard Trump Supporter

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My inner critic’s a real jerk.

He sits in the background, waiting for any opportunity to criticize my work or pass judgment. He never has anything productive to offer. He makes no suggestions on how to improve. He just offers some belligerent ravings on how trying anything new will be an unmitigated disaster.

So yeah, he’s a real jerk. But somehow, he’s also effective. A few whispered criticisms are enough to keep me second-guessing myself. A few well-timed comments are enough to make me hesitate before taking a risk.

It’s like having a…

The Key to Innovation Success.

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You have twenty sticks of uncooked spaghetti, a yard of string, a yard of masking tape, and a marshmallow. You can break up the spaghetti, string, or masking tape however you need. Your challenge is to work with a team of your peers and build the tallest tower that can hold up the weight of the marshmallow.

You have eighteen minutes. And you’re competing with teams of CEOs, lawyers, and business school students. Oh, and a team of kindergarteners.

Now, which group do you think has the best chance of winning?

Industrial designer Peter Skillman…

We’re often our own worst enemy.

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“Lying,” Sam Harris defines, “is both a failure of understanding and an unwillingness to be understood. To lie is to recoil from relationship.”

Between the white lies we tell to spare people’s feelings to more serious breaches of trust, dishonesty is an unfortunate part of our day. In her TED talk, Pamela Meyer cites research that says we hear up to 200 lies each day.

Although with last year’s political turnover, hopefully this number is going down.

But between the ridiculous grandstanding at your average conservative rally to the useless feedback of your incompetent manager, none of these represent the…

If you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.

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“If you win the rat race, you’re still a rat,” Lily Tomlin said, capturing the futility of our daily busyness. It’s a paradox of our lives that with every new tool to save time, we use that free time to take on more things. With each improvement, we end up busier than ever.

We’ve all had days full of activity, yet with no real accomplishment. Like Alice and the Red Queen, we spend them running as fast as we can, only to stop and realize that we’re in the same place we started.

These aren’t good days. Maybe they look…

No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.

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“The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism,” Norman Vincent Peale once said. Yet while this may be true at conservative rallies and online echo chambers, it’s a discredit to the vast majority of people.

If you do something wrong, would you prefer to recognize your mistake or continue in ignorance? Would you prefer to have the opportunity to correct it now or continue repeating it for the foreseeable future?

People want to grow. They…

Failure Needs to be a Part of the Process.

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“Creativity is not a talent. It is a way of operating,” John Cleese said in a 1991 talk on the subject. And often the biggest part of this process is a willingness to fail. As Steve Jobs warned, “You gotta be willing to fail… if you’re afraid of failing, you won’t get very far.”

Yet as easy as this is to say (and write), it’s much more difficult to practice. Reading inspirational quotes doesn’t remove the sting of disappointment that comes with a failed experiment. …

Learn to benefit from changing information

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You’re on a game show. In front of you are three closed doors. Behind one door is a new car. Behind the other two are goats. The host, complete with a classic checkered jacket and coiffed hair, asks you to pick a door.

You choose Door 2. Because why not.

The host then walks over and, instead of opening Door 2, shows you what’s behind Door 1. Surprise, surprise, it’s a goat.

“Now,” he says, turning to you, “do you want to stick with Door 2, or would you rather switch to Door 3?”

What do you do? …

Greatness comes from process, not results.

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“In order to become a Grandmaster, you must already be one,” Alexander Shabalov told Maurice Ashley after Ashley lost a crucial chess match and missed the opportunity of becoming a Grandmaster. Ashley then realized that before he could focus on winning games, he needed to work on perfecting himself. From that point on, he focused on process over results, and became a Grandmaster before he officially won the title.

Shabalov’s advice translates to many areas of life. We often fall into the trap of thinking we’ll change after some future milestone.

When I find…

What are the things that failures don’t like to do?

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“It became very clear to me sitting out there today, that every decision I’ve ever made, in my entire life, has been wrong. My life is the opposite of everything I want it to be. Every instinct I have, in every aspect of life, be it something to wear, something to eat… It’s all been wrong,” complained George Costanza in the classic Seinfeld episode, The Opposite. Jerry would then prompt him to do the opposite of his instincts, suggesting, “If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.”

This wisdom transforms George from his…

Don’t fall into the scarcity trap

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“I think that working is part of life, I don’t know how to distinguish between the two…Work is an expression of life for me,” said Orson Welles in response to the question, “Would you say that you live to work or work to live?” Similarly, Debbie Millman doesn’t believe in work-life balance, saying,

“I believe that if you view your work as a calling, it is a labor of love rather than laborious. When your work is a calling, you are not approaching the amount of hours you are working with a sense of dread or counting the minutes until…

Jake Wilder

Enemy of the Status Quo.

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