May 21, 2012 at 4:46pm
Power Politics in the real world.
From author of “48 Laws of Power” Robert Greene’s commencement speech at Yale:
When you enter the real world, you are suddenly blindsided by this whole realm that exists. It is like our dirty little secret. People will talk about their sex lives. You’ll get Dr. Ruth here, we’ll go through all of that. But nobody talks about all of these power games that are constantly going on in the world. So, I just wanted to interject into this idea my own personal story. When I got out of college and I suddenly was confronted with this real world.
I had graduated, as he mentioned, with a classical background. I was immersed in studying philosophy and literature and languages. And so when I started working, essentially in magazines, I worked at Esquire magazine and a few others. I had no idea of how things operated in the real world, and I was very much shocked by all of the egos and the insecurities and the game playing and the political stuff. It really kind of disturbed me and it upset me. I can remember when I was about 26 or 27 years old one particular job that was kind of the turning point in my life.
I am not going to tell you which job this was. I don’t want you Googling it and figuring out who I’m talking about. But, basically, the job was that I had to find stories that would then be put into either film or a magazine, whatever. But I was basically judged on how many good stories I found. So in this job, I thought, I am a very competitive person, and I was doing better than anybody else there. I was finding more stories that ended up getting produced, because I felt that’s the point. You are trying to produce. You are trying to get work done. Isn’t that the most important thing? Isn’t that why we are all here?
Suddenly I found that my superior, this woman, who’s name I won’t mention, made it very clear that she wasn’t happy with me. That something was wrong. I was doing something wrong and I couldn’t figure out what it was.
So going on what I was mentioning, that theory of mind, this power that we have, I sort of put myself in her shoes. And I’m thinking, what is it that I’m doing that is displeasing her? I am clearly producing. And I figured out, well, maybe it is because I’m not involving her in what I’m doing, in my ideas. I need to run them by her. I need to make and involve her more so she feels like she is a part of the research that I am doing.
So I would go into her office and I would tell her where my ideas were coming. I was trying to engage with her, figuring that was the problem. Well, that didn’t seem to work. She was still clearly unhappy with me. Maybe didn’t like me. So, I thought, going further, well, maybe I’m not being friendly enough with her. Maybe I need to be nice to her. Maybe I need to go in and not talk about work, but just talk, be nice and talk like a human being.
Okay. So that was strategy number two. I started doing that. Still didn’t have any effect. She still seemed really cold and kind of mean. I figured, all right. She just hates me. That’s just life. Not everybody can love you. That’s just it. I mean, what the hell? I’ll just do my job. Then one day we are having a meeting in which we are discussing our ideas, and she suddenly interrupts. She says, “‘Robert. You have an attitude problem.”
“What?” “You’re not listening to people here.” “I’m listening.” But, I mean, I produce. I do my work. You are going to judge me about how wide my eyes are open and how I’m listening to people? She goes, “No. You have a problem here.” “I’m sorry. I don’t think I do.”
Anyway, over the course of the next few weeks she just started kind of torturing me about this idea that I had an attitude. And, of course, naturally, I developed an attitude. I started resenting her. And a couple of weeks later, I quit, because I just hated it. I probably quit a week before they were going to fire me anyway. And I went home, and over the course of several weeks, I thought really deeply about it. What happened here? What did I do wrong? I mean, she just didn’t like me? I think I’m a likable person.
I figured, I came to this conclusion. I had violated a law of power 12 years before I ever wrote the book. Law number one: Never outshine the master. I had gone into this environment thinking that what mattered was doing a great job and showing how talented I was. But, in doing that, I had made this woman, my superior, insecure that maybe I was after her job or that maybe I was better than she was. And I would make her look bad because the great ideas were coming from me and not from her.
I had violated law number one. And when you violate law number one, you are going to suffer for it, because you are touching on a person’s ego and their insecurities. That is the worst thing you can do, and that is what had happened.
March 23, 2012 at 12:27pm
Here’s a collection of all my posts that tell you “how to” improve something in your life — generally in a quick and easy fashion. (None of us seem too keen on difficult things that take a long time.) They’re almost all based on science, not just some random guy on the internet’s opinion. Enjoy!
Great links. Check it out!
stop doing these to yourself!
March 13, 2012 at 3:21pm
Barker notes on unemployment trends in individuals and why building a strong network is important.
March 1, 2012 at 11:57pm
It’s a wine-and-Tumblr kinda night. Here are some neato outfit photos!
Today, I realized a new development I had not noticed until just now. I’ve gotten to the point where, even on the off days or the days I just can’t help but feel down, I can look in the mirror and say, “I look good enough.” I don’t know if you understand how profound this is especially for a girl to accept that about herself but you know what? I am beautiful and at the very least, I look good enough. No self-doubt. No inner turmoil over their ephemeral shells. No self-hate.
I hope everyone, guy or girl, will reach this stage at least once in their life. :)
February 15, 2012 at 11:02am
From Radical Honesty:
[Radical Honesty] was founded by a sixty-six-year-old Virginia-based psychotherapist named Brad Blanton. He says everybody would be happier if we just stopped lying. Tell the truth, all the time. This would be radical enough — a world without fibs — but Blanton goes further. He says we should toss out the filters between our brains and our mouths. If you think it, say it. Confess to your boss your secret plans to start your own company. If you’re having fantasies about your wife’s sister, Blanton says to tell your wife and tell her sister. It’s the only path to authentic relationships. It’s the only way to smash through modernity’s soul-deadening alienation. Oversharing? No such thing.
Yes. I know. One of the most idiotic ideas ever, right up there with Vanilla Coke and giving Phil Spector a gun permit. Deceit makes our world go round. Without lies, marriages would crumble, workers would be fired, egos would be shattered, governments would collapse.
And yet…maybe there’s something to it. Especially for me. I have a lying problem. Mine aren’t big lies. They aren’t lies like “I cannot recall that crucial meeting from two months ago, Senator.” Mine are little lies. White lies. Half-truths. The kind we all tell. But I tell dozens of them every day. “Yes, let’s definitely get together soon.” “I’d love to, but I have a touch of the stomach flu.” “No, we can’t buy a toy today — the toy store is closed.” It’s bad. Maybe a couple of weeks of truth-immersion therapy would do me good.
I e-mail Blanton to ask if I can come down to Virginia and get some pointers before embarking on my Radical Honesty experiment. He writes back: “I appreciate you for apparently having a real interest and hope you’re not just doing a cutesy little superficial dipshit job like most journalists.”
I’m already nervous. I better start off with a clean slate. I confess I lied to him in my first e-mail — that I haven’t ordered all his books on Amazon yet. I was just trying to impress upon him that I was serious about his work. He writes back: “Thanks for your honesty in attempting to guess what your manipulative and self-protective motive must have been.”
Read more: http://www.esquire.com/features/honesty0707#ixzz1mRnRSYnb
Wow. Hang this one up there with the 21-Day No-Complaint Challenge under “Things I Want to Try But Am Too Chickenshit To Do.”
But yes, this article is definitely worth a read! Very interesting, though I’d imagine it’d be EXTREMELY hard to implement at first and it’d be exhausting to deal with all the mini-confrontations you’d face in a day.
But damn, some of the benefits in the article are attractive: liberation from untruths and resentment, the thrill of social candor, the OPEN and genuine communication, and the “creation of possibility.”
And Blanton is hardcore about this. He even chastises the author for confronting him with the truth via email:
Blanton responds quickly. First, he doesn’t like that I expressed my resentment by e-mail. I should have come to see him. “What you don’t seem to get yet, A.J., is that the reason for expressing resentment directly and in person is so that you can experience in your body the sensations that occur when you express the resentment, while at the same time being in the presence of the person you resent, and so you can stay with them until the sensations arise and recede and then get back to neutral — which is what forgiveness is.”
Shef and I went through a period in our relationship where we were diligently, ruthlessly honest with each other. Some confessions were cringe-worthy. Discoveries were, at times, painful.
And we had never felt closer and more intimate with each other than we did then.
My hesitation in either of these challenges reveals to me something about myself (and perhaps most people?), however: I avoid confrontation through demonizing my adversities (i.e. complaining) and cushioning people’s feelings. I cling to the “safety” of complaint and the safety of white lies. Doing one of these exercises (though implementing them as part of your actual lifestyle seems like more of a good idea) would definitely be a good way to chip away at that fear of confrontation.
Now to grow the balls to take on either of these challenges ..
January 3, 2012 at 1:34pm
The Misconception: There is nothing better in the world than getting paid to do what you love. The Truth: Getting paid for doing what you already enjoy will sometimes cause your love for the task to wane because you attribute your motivation as coming from the reward, not your internal feelings.
In 1973, Lepper, Greene and Nisbett met with teachers of a preschool class, the sort that generates a steady output of macaroni art and paper-bag vests. They arranged for the children to have a period of free time in which the tots could choose from a variety of different fun activities. Meanwhile, the psychologists would watch from behind a one-way mirror and take notes. The teachers agreed, and the psychologists watched. To proceed, they needed children with a natural affinity for art. So as the kids played, the scientists searched for the ones who gravitated toward drawing and coloring activities. Once they identified the artists of the group, the scientists watched them during free time and measured their participation and interest in drawing for later comparison.
They then divided the children into three groups. They offered Group A a glittering certificate of awesomeness if the artists drew during the next fun time. They offered Group B nothing, but if the kids in Group B happened to draw they received an unexpected certificate of awesomeness identical to the one received by Group A. The experimenters told Group C nothing ahead of time, and later the scientists didn’t award a prize if those children went for the colored pencils and markers. The scientists then watched to see how the kids performed during a series of playtimes over three days. They awarded the prizes, stopped observations, and waited two weeks. When they returned, the researchers watched as the children faced the same the choice as before the experiment began. Three groups, three experiences, many fun activities – how do you think their feelings changed?
Source: Benedikte on Flikr
Well, Group B and Group C didn’t change at all. They went to the art supplies and created monsters and mountains and houses with curly-cue smoke streams crawling out of rectangular chimneys with just as much joy as they had before they met the psychologists. Group A, though, did not. They were different people now. The children in Group A “spent significantly less time” drawing than did the others, and they “showed a significant decrease in interest in the activity” as compared to before the experiment. Why?
The children in Group A were swept up, overpowered, their joy perverted by the overjustification effect. The story they told themselves wasn’t the same story the other groups were telling. That’s how the effect works.