The greatest tragedy of mankind comes from the inability of people to have thoughtful disagreement to find out what’s true.

71q7mhjgucl-_ac_ul160_sr108160_This is the third in 5 blog posts I will be doing on Adam Grant’s fantastic book “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World.”

“The greatest tragedy of mankind comes from the inability of people to have thoughtful disagreement to find out what’s true.” – Ray Dalio

I don’t know about you but when I grew up our family didn’t fight. It sounds fake but it’s true. How about yours? Did they fight? Yes of course they did. And so did mine.  They just did it behind closed doors.

I was taught that it was rude to fight in public – any kind of fight. If my brother got the bigger half of the cookie we were told to stop fighting. When our parents divorced we were discouraged from yelling and talking about it in public.

Imagine how surprising it was for me to see this quote from Adam Grant:

“If we rarely see a spat, we learn to shy away from the threat of conflict. Witnessing arguments – and participating in them – helps us grow a thicker skin. We develop the will to fight uphill battles and the skill to win those battles, and the resilience to lose a battle today without losing our resolve tomorrow. For the Wright brothers, argument was the family trade and a fierce one was something to be savored. Conflict was something to embrace and resolve. “I like scrapping with Orv,” Wilbur said.” – Adam Grant

Adam Grant, this time writing in the Singapore’s StaitsTime, in an article called “Kids, please start arguing for creativity’s sake” adds,

“Families who know how to quarrel in a good-natured way nurture some of the most innovative thinkers, research shows. If kids never get exposed to disagreement, we’ll end up limiting their creativity.” – Adam Grant

Grant shows that conflict is required to tangle apart our own beliefs.

“If no one ever argues, you’re not likely to give up on old ways of doing things, let alone try new ones. Disagreement is the antidote to groupthink. We’re at our most imaginative when we’re out of sync. There’s no better time than childhood to learn how to dish it out – and to take it.” – Adam Grant

Rather than seeing red faces launching into debate as a sign to dive for cover,

“Children need to learn the value of thoughtful disagreement. Sadly, many parents teach kids that if they disagree with someone, it’s polite to hold their tongues. Rubbish. What if we taught kids that silence is bad manners. It disrespects the other person’s ability to have a civil argument – and it disrespects the value of your own viewpoint and your own voice. It’s a sign of respect to care enough about someone’s opinion that you’re willing to challenge it.” – Adam Grant

Now if you’re like me and were raised in a home that bottled up anger only to unleash it in explosive bursts when the doors were closed, you might need some tips on how to use anger and debate constructively. Luckily for us, Grant provides us with 4 rules to keep arguing civil and constructive:

We can start with four rules:

  1. Frame it as a debate, rather than a conflict.
  2. Argue as if you’re right but listen as if you’re wrong.
  3. Make the most respectful interpretation of the other person’s perspective.
  4. Acknowledge where you agree with your critics and what you’ve learned from them.

Did this post make you mad? Let me know by emailing me or leaving me a comment. But make sure it’s constructive. You could be on your way to embracing argument and finding the value in “thoughtful disagreement.”


Great Originals are Great Procrastinators

71q7mhjgucl-_ac_ul160_sr108160_This is the first in 5 blog posts I will be doing on Adam Grant’s fantastic book “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World.”

What do Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. have in common? They’re both procrastinators! Read on to learn how each man used procrastination to achieve more than the rest.

Try on this bit of mind-warping wisdom:

“People of genius sometimes accomplish most when they work the least, for they are thinking out inventions and forming in their minds the perfect idea.” – Adam Grant

How does that sit with you? Does it make you feel like you’ve been right all along – waiting until there’s no clean clothes left before you do laundry, waiting until the day your paper’s due to start writing, or doing your taxes on April 15th?

That’s not the kind of procrastination we’re talking about here.

“Great originals are great procrastinators, but they don’t skip planning altogether. They procrastinate strategically, making gradual progress by testing and refining different possibilities.” – Adam Grant

When I code an app, I need time to learn the domain, code up and revise the code, and test out the code to see how it performs, how I react to it, and what can be removed. 

I liken this process of “living with your creation” to the process Hemingway used to view his writing with fresh eyes – he’d finish writing for the day and force himself not to look at it until the next morning. 

Grant shares a story about procrastinating Abraham Lincoln’s style of writing:

“Lincoln probably followed his usual habit in such matters, using great deliberation in arranging his thoughts, and molding his phrases mentally, waiting to reduce them to writing until they had taken satisfactory form.” – Adam Grant

Did you know that Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t start writing the “I have a Dream” speech until a few weeks before the Million Man March on Washington D.C.?

The “I have a dream” part of his speech wasn’t even written down!

After reading that our great president Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. were great procrastinators I don’t feel so bad about my style of living with and working on a project. 

In fact, I feel emboldened to take even more time now. As long as the project gets done on time it doesn’t matter how it got there.

Grant provides even more reasons why we should embrace procrastination in our projects,

“Along with providing time to generate novel ideas, procrastination has another benefit: it keeps us open to improvisation. When we plan well in advance, we often stick to the structure we’ve created, closing the door to creative possibilities that might spring into our fields of vision.” – Adam Grant

What do you think? Were these guys just secret overachievers who could summon the muse at the drop of a hat? Or did the procrastination really keep them “open to improvisation”? I think procrastination is a secret force. Turn it on and “ghost in beast-mode!”

Any questions? Contact me.

Purple Prize Contest – Halfway checkin pupus and planning 

Last night the MaiTai’d team: me, Brian, and Stanley attended the Purple Prize Contest checkin with the Purple Mai’a stakeholders at Halau Inana.

It was good to see Nohea, Kelsey, and Forest from the last meeting. During the checkin we shared our progress with the stakeholders and received feedback on the viability of our project.

I took notes after the checkins and this morning I had a new idea for the project, should we need to pivot:

Backyard sea level gauges for the masses

Hear me out. Putting together disparate pieces of information that I have gathered through talking about plummeting cost of sensors with Brian, seeing how easy this EE was for Stanley, talking to the Fishpond owners at the Loko I’a event a few weeks ago, discussing the conversation from tide date to conservation data, and finally discussing the scaling of the project with Forest gave me “cheerumata” – new eyes in Indonesian.

I’m looking forward to bringing the NOAA tide data from Coconut Island into the graph this weekend. Really looking forward to “drying out” the code that I already wrote to get started on the programming binge this weekend.

Let’s do this! Go team MaiTai’d!

Empathy absorbs tension

This will be the first in 5 posts I’m doing on the book “Verbal Judo – The Gentle Art of Persuasion” by George J. Thompson, Ph.D.

A few months ago I finished reading Verbal Judo. How did I find this gem? I had asked my Dad for recommendations on books that strengthen grit and give advice on dealing with people effectively. I’d already read “Grit” by Angela Duckworth and I wanted something more actionable. Verbal Judo was exactly what I was looking for.

Today’s post will focus on the following quote:

“Here is the bottom line of all communication: Empathy absorbs tension. It works every time.” – Thompson

Have you ever struggled to connect with people. Do you wonder why they don’t listen to you? You have great ideas. Why aren’t they willing to listen?

The answer to that question is a lot simpler than you think. They don’t listen because you don’t listen.

“Empathy means “to see through the eye of the other.” – Thompson

I’ve heard this a lot growing up. In order to see how a man sees you have to look through his eyes. In order to know how a man experiences the world, you need to walk in his shoes.

Yes, easy right?

I’ve had the hardest time empathizing because my empathy comes with some kind of agreement that the other person will listen to me next. This comes through much more clearly than you think. You can’t hide it.

Just take a moment here. Think of the last time you were talking to someone and you could just see it on their face. They are ready to say their point without even letting you finish yours.

This is the opposite of empathy.

So how do you show empathy? Stop trying. Just do it.

“Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda

Do this next time

Next time you’re listening to someone pour out their heart and soul to you just do one thing. Pay attention. Find the parts they are struggling most with. Locate the points where they trail off. Those are the most meaningful comments that few are brave or willing to follow up on, ask for clarification, and rephrase back to the person in need of empathy.

Thompson suggests the following:

“The next time you have an argument, before you start snapping back and using your words to address your own feelings, why not stop and analyze. What is the problem? How does my opponent see it? How is my opponent different from me? What constraints make it so difficult to deal with him today? And remember to keep a concerned and caring face. That in itself is often enough to deflect abuse.” – Thompson

Have you tried this out? Let me know how it worked out for you.

Hawaii iOS Developer Meetup – Session 33

We’ve all been waiting to try it out. All I needed was a deadline to give me the push into installing Xcode 9 beta 4 and upgrading iOS on my iPhone from 10.3.3 to iOS 11. The gains are huge. Perhaps the best thing I’ve noticed on iOS 11 has been the screen recording feature. Amazing!

During this meetup we had a chance to cover ARKit. I’m floored. Absolutely floored by this technology. I set up the this session so that we could have witness the tech hands-on. In order to prepare for this session I watched the WWDC 2017 video on ARKit. Then I searched YouTube for a tutorial video from Jared Davison.

While I was searching for tutorials I was busy installing Xcode 9 and iOS 11 on my devices. Both of these pieces of software are needed to develop and play with Augmented Reality for the iPhone.

I really like how ARKit projects have a very interesting screen lag. Sounds strange but, this is starting to feel like the future.

Next week Adam Smith will be covering Architecture 101 at the meetup. Please RSVP if you’re interested in attending. Don’t forget, we’re meeting at the iLab on Thursdays at 6pm!