Tags: Apple, Ingrid Mackey, iPhone, User Interface
My wife, Ingrid, woke up to find a new User Interface (UI) on her iPhone. Within seconds she reported that she didn’t like the look of it and had lost key functionality in the Calendar. Ah, well, she is a user and new interfaces are not designed for them.
In the software arena where I have hung my hat, I have been haunted by the dilemma of the UI. Even customers who moaned about the UI when they are buying, become comfortable with the old tried-and-true before long and would vote against a penny being spent on improving it. So why did Apple bring out a new UI? To win new business against the Jones and the Samsungs of the world and they are right to do so.
You see, users will get used to the new UI after some kvetching. But if you are perceived as old in the marketplace – well, that isn’t good for anyone.
Tags: Leonard Cohen, Living Beautifully, Pema Chödrön
As Leonard Cohen once said about the benefits of many years of meditation, “The less there was of me, the happier I got.” (Quoted from Pema Chödrön, Living Beautifully.
First of all, when Leonard talks I listen and when Pema quotes him – well!
I have been thinking about opinions lately. I have been often called “opinionated” and not in a complimentary way. It is true and what is this blog after all but a compendium of my opinions. I’m pouring blogs on my fire. But can life be lived without opinions? It is one thing to start out as a tabula rasa but shouldn’t we be able to say something juicier than “I’m cool with whatever you were saying”?
The problem with opinions, as I think about it, is that they weigh us down. If we hold onto them, they are like anything else we own – we have to take care of them and that is emotionally draining. Instead, I am going to have my opinions – some great, some ridiculous – and then I am going to let them go, even the good ones, into thin air.
I feel lighter already.
Tags: Hip replacement, Physical Therapy
“I told my wife you were coming to this class.”
“What made you say that,” I asked, as we walked into a classroom for our hip replacement orientation.
“When I saw you limp from your car I figured that you were getting a new hip like me.”
Of course, I knew I was limping and that my limp was getting progressively worse. Still, I was struck that others noticed. ‘Getting rid of my limp’ became ever more in the forefront of my mind as I approached the operation. But, now 30 days later, I’ve adjusted my thinking.
In the almost two years that I did Physical Therapy prior to the new hip, my therapist and I spent a good deal of time working on walking properly but, while I may have improved, I never could achieve a proper walk. Our theory was that the faulty hip was precluding a correct stride. That made sense and yet until I began to walk after the operation, I did not know if this was true. It is and it isn’t.
My new hip does permit a proper stride or has the potential for good walking. But left on its own, without training, I’d likely still be limping. It seems that you can’t press a button and eject the limp. Our body grows comfortable walking a certain way and if that way is a limp, our body seems delighted to keep it around.
I’ve decided to not get rid of my limp but instead, focus on walking really well. Although I don’t have film to back me up, I likely walked swayed one way or another in my prelapsarian days. Most people do. In my health club there is a particularly large elderly clientele. Virtually every one of them is locked up in one way or another: hunched, stooped, one shoulder up – one down, one leg moving at a different speed than the other, upper body not moving. Unless challenged, time takes a pitiless toll.
So instead of just getting rid of my limp, I’ve committed to learning to walk in a balanced, carefree way. In my last PT session, we worked on coordinating my somewhat shy left shoulder with my right foot moving forward. Interesting!
Surgeries, hospital stays, complications and therapy all present lessons and sometimes so many that you lose track. Also, as the pain subsides and the stiffness eases, it is natural to focus on the NOW and the future and the lessons, once like neon signs in our brain, are put off for another day.
One lesson has stuck with me and has become my primary focus: being awake. A key part of being awake is the ability to concentrate – the ability to read a sentence, a paragraph, a page and understand what you read. When we are awake we can listen to another person and not have our eyes droop. Awake, music is a miracle, half-asleep it is wall paper.
In the hospital, with several General Anaesthetics, pain medicine, blood thinner, constant testing of “vitals” I could barely think, no less think well. This was the one thing I understood. I made a pledge that once I got out, this would be my primary aim – to be simply and beautifully awake.
It is a challenge.
Tags: Amour, Eknath Easwaran, Michael Haneke
“But when you walk amidst the world of sense, free from attachment and aversion alike, there comes the peace in which all sorrows end …” Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, translated by Eknath Easwaran
I couldn’t do it. I have disliked or despised all the movies I’ve seen by the Austrian Director, Michael Haneke. Amour won the best picture award last year for Foreign Films and I thought, breaking previous pledges, that I would give him and this film one last try.
At the end of the pitiless and endless 207 minutes – it seems like four hours at a minimum – I was beside myself. How could I have knowingly subjected myself to this?
There are several keys to the Hanekean misery:
- His films begin in the shadows and then, minute by minute, become darker. Light is never let in.
- Every characters worst traits are highlighted without contrast and bit players are nastier still.
- Violence, particularly of a personal nature, is close at hand.
Perhaps my tastes are not sophisticated enough to appreciate Amour and Haneke and to that I say, Thank God!
Tags: Daniel Kahneman, Loss Aversion, Thinking Fast and Slow
Even before I learned that “studies showed” that the fear of loss outweighs the desire for gain, I felt it in my bones. In the face of sales people who think that they are motivated by money, I knew that they feared making less than they normally did (or their spouses expected) far more than they desired gigantic commissions. Psychologists call this “loss aversion.”
In that treasure trove, Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, in the chapter on loss aversion, he tells us of a study done of Professional Golfers on Tour. It turns out that they putt better when putting for pars than when putting for birdies. To a golfer, this is slightly counter-intuitive. With birdie putts we feel (at least I do!) freer, less pressured. Par putts are a grind.
It is just that grind, that aversion to bogies, that makes the studs on tour putt better. Interesting!
Tags: Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Jazz, Mozart, Mozart's Letters, Robert Spaethling
“Somebody whispered in Dechant’s ear that he should really hear me play in the organ style; so I asked him to give me a theme, he didn’t want to, but one of the clergymen did. I took the theme for a walk, then in the middle of it – the fugue was in G minor – I changed it to major and came up with a very sprightly little tune, but in the same tempo, then I played the theme again, but this time assbackwards; in the end, I wondered whether I couldn’t use this merry little thing as a theme for the fugue? – Well, I didn’t stop to inquire, I just went ahead and did it, it fit so well as if it had been measured by (the tailor) Daser.”
If you were to change “theme” to “riff”, it could have been Count Basie or the Duke talking.
The above is from one of 1400 letters that Mozart wrote – he would have loved Twitter! I’ve spent the summer listening to Mozart and reading and learning about him but mostly I’ve listened. It has been a joyful and profound, deeply profound experience and I have no plans to stop.
(The letter, from October 1777 and addressed to his father, was translated by Robert Spaethling and is from his indispensable Mozart’s Letters, Mozart’s Life.)
Tags: Choice Theory, Dr. William Glasser, NY Times, Paul Vitello, Reality Therapy
Dr. William Glasser, who recently died at 88, was a lightning rod as he believed that our fates were not in the stars but in ourselves. He was a psychiatrist and very popular author who promoted these principles, as related in his obit in the NY Times by Paul Vitello:
- That the only person one controls in the world is oneself.
- That the effort to change others is doomed and, worse, is the actual cause of most emotional problems.
- That to meet the most profound human need – “to love and be loved,” as Dr. Glasser put it – people must repair strained relations with their family, friends and co-workers by adjusting the one variable within their control: their own behavior.
This can all seem basic, particularly for successful people or those attuned to self-improvement. But it was a hit in 1965 and his book Reality Therapy sold 1.5 million copies back then. I read him, upon discovering him 10 years ago and I liked his approach. But I don’t know if I buy all of it.
Science is continuing to discover the role of biology in how we are day-by-day. Can a person who is schizophrenic really take a good look in the mirror and recover?
I think that for most of us, the lucky, Glasser’s dip into the ice water of self-reliance is just the ticket and not that hard to acclimate to. But for others among us, to be so facile is to be cruel.
Tags: Ingrid Mackey
“Hey Mom, don’t forget that you are going to take me driving today. You promised!”
I addressed these words to my wife, Ingrid, this morning. On Tuesday, after seeing my Orthopedic surgeon, I announced that he said I could drive once I could walk up stairs, normally – one foot smoothly after the other (not good leg, bad leg, good leg, bad leg ….) Ingrid raised her eyebrows as she often does when I quote a doctor or some other authority with news that benefits myself.
I have been driving for 46 or so years and only when we lived in Germany in ’73 have I gone three weeks without driving. I was not climbing the walls as Ingrid kindly drove me to my few haunts but I felt like a chess piece, being moved one up and two to the right.
As I got in my car (old friend), I felt a slight nervousness and turned off the radio when it came on. But I drove well, quelling the fears of my vigilant wife.
I will drive now – somewhere!
Tags: Daniel Kahneman, Hiring, Thinking, Thinking Fast and Slow
I have written about Daniel Kahneman and his wonderful book Thinking , Fast and Slow several times and as I continue to re-read it, there is more I want to tell you. Most business books are, at best, a chapter. Each of Kahneman’s chapters is a book.
In just 12 pages Kahneman has led me to revise my views on the value of intuition versus formulas. Being the sensitive sort, I’ve generally sided with intuition but I’m now convinced otherwise. In the end of the chapter, Intuition vs. Formulas, he tells us how we should hire sales people. I summarize:
- Select a few traits that are pre-requisites for success.
- – 6 is enough.
- – should be independent.
- – can be accessed factually.
- –create a list of questions for each trait.
- – Score (i.e. 1-5)
- – Have a good idea what you would call “very weak” or “very strong”
- – Kahneman suggests this should take only a half hour. Remember, he is a Nobel Prize Winner!
- To avoid the “halo effect”, collect information one trait at a time. Scoring one before you move on.
- – Do not skip around.
- To evaluate each candidate, add up the 6 scores
- Firmly resolve that you will hire the candidate whose final score is the highest.
Kahneman says that if you do this, ‘a vast amount of research offers a promise: you are much more likely to find the best candidate if you use this procedure than if you do what people normally do in such situations, which is to go into the interview unprepared and to make choices by an overall intuitive judgement such as “I looked into his eyes and liked what I saw.”‘
Now, after 39 years at the till, my intuition about reps is excellent but I often don’t follow my intuition for numberless reasons. Next time I have the chance, I will follow the steps above.
What do you think?