Man is like a canoeist directing his course through waves. One after another he meets them. They may be heavy and powerful or they may be light ruffles of a sunshiny day in midsummer. He must ride them all. To each one he must slant his craft, dipping his paddle at just the right moment, giving it just the right twist, putting just the right amount of force into the stroke. Each wave requires a decision. Let him fail in judgment, or in skill an d strength, and his canoe may ship water until it fills, or, in the lift of some great breaker, overturn immediately.
The science of how your mind-wandering is robbing you of happiness.
For Grant, helping is not the enemy of productivity, a time-sapping diversion from the actual work at hand; it is the mother lode, the motivator that spurs increased productivity and creativity. In some sense, he has built a career in professional motivation by trying to unpack the puzzle of his own success. He has always helped; he has always been productive. How, he has wondered for most of his professional life, does the interplay of those two factors work for everyone else?
Organizational psychology has long concerned itself with how to design work so that people will enjoy it and want to keep doing it. Traditionally the thinking has been that employers should appeal to workers’ more obvious forms of self-interest: financial incentives, yes, but also work that is inherently interesting or offers the possibility for career advancement. Grant’s research, which has generated broad interest in the study of relationships at work and will be published for the first time for a popular audience in his new book, Give and Take, starts with a premise that turns the thinking behind those theories on its head. The greatest untapped source of motivation, he argues, is a sense of service to others; focusing on the contribution of our work to other peoples’ lives has the potential to make us more productive than thinking about helping ourselves.
Fantastic New York Times Magazine profile of organizational psychology wunderkind Adam Grant, the youngest-tenured professor at highest-rated Wharton professor, by Susan Dominus.
It’s particularly interesting to consider the implications of these findings in the future of gift economies.
Grant’s fascinating research is a centerpiece of Dan Pink’s “ambivert”theory of success.
In the end… We are self-perceiving, self-creating, locked-in mirages. We are miracles of self-reference.
Complement with a historical perspective on what it means to be human.
Previous research has shown that sleep helps regulate negative emotions.
We can’t begin being empathetic when another person arrives. We have to already have made a space in our lives where empathy can thrive. And that means being open—truly open—to feeling emotions we may not want to feel. It means allowing another’s experiences to gut us. It means ceding control.
Empathy begins with vulnerability. And being vulnerable, especially in our work, is fucking terrifying.
On studying his chronic fears this man found they fell into five fairly distinct classifications:
1. Worries about disasters which, as later events proved, never happened. About 40% of my anxieties.
2. Worries about decisions I had made in the past, decisions about which I could now of course do nothing. About 30% of my anxieties.
3. Worries about possible sickness and a possible nervous breakdown, neither of which materialized. About 12% of my worries.
4. Worries about my children and my friends, worries arising from the fact I forgot these people have an ordinary amount of common sense. About 10% of my worries.
5. Worries that have a real foundation. Possibly 8% of the total.
The thing no one ever tells you about joy is that it has very little real pleasure in it. And yet if it hadn’t happened at all, at least once, how would we live?
… sometimes joy multiplies itself dangerously. … [A dangerous] joy, for many people, is the dog or the cat, relationships with animals being in some sense intensified by guaranteed finitude. You hope to leave this world before your child. You are quite certain your dog will leave before you do. Joy is such a human madness.