Meeting people who want to make the leap is a passion of one of Judaism’s most charismatic rabbis, the irrepressible Issamar Ginzberg. Rabbi Ginzberg thinks meeting such people should be your passion, too. Not long ago, he pointedly took the 400 wealthiest individuals in the United States to task because only 44 of them had a LinkedIn profile. And of those who did—like NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg—fewer that 10 percent had enabled settings that would allow someone to reach them. “Accessibility is key,” says the good rabbi, who was one of Inc. Magazine’s Entrepreneurs of the Year in 2005. “You can reach out and talk to G-d anytime. And you know He’s busy.” Reaching out—or more correctly, reaching up—was a theme that Ginzberg returned to repeatedly in his weekly Jerusalem Post column the other day. He wrote: “Do you want to get ahead? To rise? To succeed? To get to the next level? Of course you do! I’m telling you that all you have to do is upgrade the people you deal with to a more qualified group and you will. Do this by meeting and networking with people who are serious about their business. . . . When you associate and network with people who are on the level you aspire to you begin to evolve. You grow. You begin to see that next level as it approaches! Are you going to an industry networking event? If you’re not, you should be.” When he’s not providing services through his Monetized Intellect Consulting firm in New York, Ginzberg’s doing it in Jerusalem or somewhere else. Ever the opportunist, he’s also working on a book called Business Secrets of the Wailing Wall. You don’t even have to meet him to remember him. Just take a look at his head shot on Wikipedia and tell me you are ever going to forget what one of the most unique countenances in the business consulting community looks like!
The dolphinthinker understands that humans sail highest and farthest under the flag of abundance even though, for many, scarcity is too often the transport du jour. For this reason alone, it has never more important to find out what isn’t working, fix what is broken and opt for the solutions, conditions, synergies and alliances that dolphinthinking can bring. Yet, as the imitable Yogi Berra cautions us, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”
For my money, some of the best insights on all this have come from the swashbuckling intellectual trader/philosopher, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, who in any number of ways is a superb example of dolphinthinking. You can find many provocative, idol-breaking ideas in his books, Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable and Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder. We believe that he’s spot on with most all of his criticisms of the consequences we face from having lived so long in the shadows and under the influence of (in our dolphinthink terminology) “the Certainty Attractor.”
If you have read The Black Swan, you will remember that a Black Swan is Taleb’s metaphorical name for an event that comes wrapped in uncertainty. (It is named after the rare black swan of the bird world, thought not to exist for centuries until it was finally spotted in Australia.) More specifically, to be one of Taleb’s electrifying Black Swan events, a happening must (1) Be an outlier—something nobody was expecting. (2) Have extreme impact; it must truly shake things up. Finally, (3) be something that we (humans being humans) rush belatedly to make “explainable and predictable”—concocting explanations for its occurrence after it happens.
In his book, Taleb labels such events as the rise of the Internet, the invention and spread of the personal computer, World War I and 9/11 as being Black Swans. To that list, the argument can be made that the Indian Ocean tsunami, hurricane Katrina, the Haiti earthquake, the Eyjafjallajoekull volcano eruption and the BP oil spill not to mention the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, the subprime mortgage crisis and late-2000s mega-recession and the following European sovereign debt crisis should be added (although it isn’t always crystal clear that Taleb’s required triplet of rarity, extreme impact and retrospective predictability is satisfied by each of these).
A small number of Black Swans explain almost everything in our world, from the success of ideas and religions, to the dynamics of historical events, to elements of our own personal lives. Ever since we left the Pleistocene, some ten millennia ago, the effect of these Black Swans has been increasing. It started accelerating during the industrial revolution, as the world started getting more complicated, while ordinary events, the ones we study and discuss and try to predict from reading the newspapers, have become increasingly inconsequential…. The central idea of this book concerns our blindness with respect to randomness, particularly the large deviations [the Black Swans]. Why do we, scientists or nonscientists, hotshots or regular Joes, tend to see the pennies instead of the dollars? Why do we keep focusing on the minutiae, not the possible significant large events, in spite of the obvious evidence of their huge influence?
With uncertainty coming at us at ever greater speeds, Taleb wants us to be aware of the lessons available to us from our new understandings about uncertainty. Some of the things he wants us to acknowledge and act on are these (although the words that follow are not necessarily his exact words):
• Our vaunted forecasting tools aren’t very dependable at predicting uncertainty in the real world. Usually, they don’t work any better than astrology.
• What you know often tends not to hurt you. (If you know something is likely, you can take precautions.)
• What you don’t know, and what nobody else does either, is where “the next big killing” lies. It will come from where almost no one is looking.
• Our inability to predict “outliers” (Black Swans) means we can neither predict historical events nor change the course of history. (And yet, we don’t even bother to notice the magnitude of our forecasting errors.)
• Wars are fundamentally unpredictable, and we don’t notice that either.
• The best way to protect yourself from Black Swans is antiknowledge—positioning yourself to benefit from what you don’t know and you may not even know that you don’t know.
• The future is going to be increasingly less predictable. And both our own “human nature” and the nature of many so-called experts in the knowledge professions are going to continue to try and hide this from us.
There’s one question that is never far from Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s awareness in his brilliant “rewrite” of how the world of human knowing actually works and how much knowing we can depend on. How do we deal halfway intelligently with the fact that we live on such an ever-changing, ever-surprising slippery slope of reality? Especially when our own brain is designed to convince us of just the opposite. And especially now that we are moving ever-faster under the aegis of the Anti-Certainty Attractor, all at a time when our worldviews, systems, cultures, institutions, leaders and most of our brain programming has been designed and perfected to deal with the consequences of the Certainty Attractor?
More than any other question, this is the issue that has given rise to the entire dolphinthinker model. I brought that question to the research and writing of my latest book, LEAP! How to Think Like a Dolphin & Do the Next Right, Smart Thing Come Hell or High Water. And I’ll be honest with you: it is a question that the human species is going to be grappling with long after books like mine are forgotten. But it is also a question that we dare not ignore. We will learn to deal better with the Anti-Certainty Attractor issue or we’ll pay dearly and often for our neglect in the hours, days and years immediately ahead.
THIS WORLD-CLASS DUST-UP IN ECONOMICS IS A CLASSIC ‘ABUNDANCE VERSUS SCARCITY’ CASE STUDY. NOT TO MENTION A SOBERING WINDOW ON BRAIN BIAS
Ask admirers of the dolphin strategy what they like about it best, and a lot of folks will say its views on abundance versus scarcity.
About how—or so many of these readers will describe it—this view of things characterizes dolphinthinkers as always championing abundance and sharkthinkers (carpthinkers, too) as always promoting scarcity.
I’d agree that this is a tidy, appealing way of thinking about how people and their institutions belief and behave. But it’s not what we have argued in books like Strategy of the Dolphin and LEAP! How to Think Like a Dolphin & Do the Next Right, Smart Thing Come Hell or High Water.
Or at least it is only partially what we have argued.
Carp-thinking and shark-thinking do seem inordinately plagued by expectations of absolute scarcity. On the other hand, dolphinthinkers aren’t nearly so hamstrung by sugar-plum visions of absolute abundance.
That’s because the dolphinthinker knows scarcity is real. It can happen, and often there’s nothing that can be done about it. The dolphinthinker’s argument for the possibility of abundance relates to all those other times. When something might very well be done about it only we could get our beliefs and expectations more in sync with reality.
And that brings us to the world-class dustup that has occurred this month in the economics profession.
If you follow the news about money at all, you have to have noticed the major controversy that has been going on among world politicians and world financial players and researchers since the 2008 global recession. In country after country, including the United States, economies have needed jump-starting. The question was how? Is it best for a country to go further in debt to prime the money pumps now? Or is it best to hunker down, tighten belts and accept the pain so abundance can return later?
I’m not seeking to act like an historian or even a journalist here. (If you want the details on this debate, google or bing “Keynesians versus Austerians” and start reading.) I just think that this is too good an example of the difficulties of thinking abundantly to let it go by without comment.
To now, the scarcity thinkers have totally dominated the decision-making. In America, it has produced the sequester, Government funding of just about everything (except perquisites for members of Congress) has been cut or underfunded in view of needs (like for highways, schools or first-responder services and job creation in general). In Greece, children are going hungry. Even the “strong” European economics are fearing another recession.
The evidence is huge and growing that the “austerians” . . . the scarcity-thinkers . . . the sharks . . . got it wrong. The good things they predicted haven’t materialized. The bad things they feared haven’t happened. And now the bombshell piece of academic research that the scarcity advocates repeatedly fell back on to reinforce their views and claims has, in the words of Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, “turned out to be riddled with errors, omissions and dubious statistics.” (Go here for Krugman’s take on this.)
The question we have to ask as dolphinthinkers is why our brain proves to be so susceptible to expectations and predictions of scarcity.
The answer almost certainly is inextricably involved with brain biases. Any number of them can be cited as major players in this. But probably none is as influential as confirmation bias. This results from all the non-conscious processes that our brain jumps in with to reinforce our beliefs when they are threatened, even if it has to distort reality.
To keep from having to believe something different, our brain will do a lot of things. It will look only for evidence that supports what we want to continue to think. If evidence is mixed, we tend to remember only the part that supports what we believe. Even evidence that is unequivocally against our view can get relabeled and reinterpreted in our head as time passes.
As a warning of what confirmation bias might distort, neuroscientist Robert Burton has called on researchers in his own field to provide brief autobiographies revealing their personal backgrounds and beliefs at the beginning of all research articles. He would limit this self-revelatory step only to neuroscience, since it must use the mind to study the mind. But I think he’s wrong there. I think it would be a wise thing for all scientists, whatever their field, to do this.
And especially the economists who have been so vocal in support of scarcity beliefs on how governments are best funded in times of severe economic downturn. It might not change the larger picture much. But surely it would help us understand why they have such difficulties changing their minds even when their facts, arguments and predictions have proven to be so badly—and baldly—wrong.
I’ve been asked more than a few times where the idea of the carp-shark-NoQuiff-dolphin mindset and worldview model came from. The story takes some telling because this was one of those “one thing led to another, and another, and another” kinds of developments.
A critical component of the “a-ha!” that led to the model’s materialization was my serious acquaintance with the research and writings of the late Dr. Clare W. Graves, the father of the spiral theory of human “bio-psycho-social” maturation.
For years, the thought of condensing his complicated ideas into something more approachable, particularly for personal growth aficionados and also for folks who work in organizational development, was close at hand. The question was how, and, for that matter, what.
Another crucial ingredient was a collaboration that blossomed in the mid- and late-1980s with Paul Kordis. Paul is a one-of-a-kind thinker, whose penchant for synthesizing information fit exceedingly well with my inclination to try and make complex ideas more accessible.
And then—this was the trigger—there was the rip-roaring success of a business-oriented how-to book titled Swim With the Sharks (Without Being Eaten Alive) by a Minnesota envelope company owner, Harvey Mackay, published in the spring of 1988.
Mackay’s book title birthed an epiphany for me. I quickly realized that two of Dr. Graves’ six primary mindsets/worldviews (he also fingered a bare-bones System 1 that keys on extremely basic survival needs and behaviors and a shadowy eighth system that he felt was waiting in the wings for humanity) were “shark” systems. With that idea hammered, it soon occurred to me that Dr. Graves’ systems 2 and 4 could be rightly characterized as “carp” systems. (Why? Because they are sacrificial and vulnerable—bait-fish kinds of thinking systems.)
The idea of dubbing Dr. Graves’ game-changing “System 7” as the dolphin system occurred to both Paul and me about the same time. Our goal was to showcase System 7, believing this was a defining nexus of new perceiving. valuing and acting capabilities that was destined to have outsized importance in handling the complex times that we believed were incoming.
One mindset/worldview remained—Dr. Graves’ System 6. Paul and I struggled with a marine metaphor for this one. We felt that it was important to give this system a name that would double as a warning flag. Starting in the 1960s, it had become increasingly clear that System 6 can be an insidious psychological trap both for individuals and larger communities.
We wanted a marine metaphor that would say, “Be cautious here!” and yet still be suitable for use in polite company. And, in truth, we never really found it.
In our book, Strategy of the Dolphin: Scoring a Win in a Chaotic World, we named System 6 the Pseudo-Enlightened Carp, or PEC. And that left a lot of people with New Age leanings very unhappy with us, since they otherwise closely identified with Dr. Graves’ description of it.
In my newest work, LEAP! How to Think Like a Dolphin & Do the Next Right, Smart Thing Come Hell or High Water, I changed the name of the mindset/worldview separating the shark and the dolphin systems (System 6) to NoQuiff—short for “not-quite-flying-fish.” I like that better than PEC. It still waves a warning flag, as well it should, but it’s less in your face.
The dangers of arriving at the NoQuiff stage of one’s personal development and concluding that this automatically puts you at the pinnacle of current human maturation is more real than ever. It’s an understandable consequence of the vast influence of things like the Internet and the global brain metaphor and Gaia-like concepts that make everything (including their own mind) seem so easily “holonic” to persons currently anchored in this mindset/worldview.
In the early going, we had some unease about the dolphin name, too. We wondered how wise it would be to use the ocean’s chic, witty, charm-school-pedigreed dolphin as a mythological hat peg for our ideas about a radical new kind of thinker? This is why, even to this day, we are quick to observe that thinking and acting like a dolphin—whether the ocean’s kind or the human kind—can sometimes be as surprising to your workaday sensibilities as walking into a wall in the dark. When around dolphinthinkers or when you are one, you need to be prepared for possible whiplash or nose bleed. This is because there is an “iron fin” quality to dolphinthinking that takes some getting used to.
In our workshops on how to think like a dolphin, it didn’t take long at all to detect signs that our concerns were justified. We could see it plainly in some of our participants’ faces before we spotted it in their questions. We were seeing the stunned, confused look that psychologists say is a signal of “cognitive dissidence”—the result of colliding beliefs.
The most memorable incident that either Paul or I can recall occurred in a workshop in northern Colorado. A threesome of earnest young New Age-y “peace and love” types had driven hundreds of miles across the Rockies from Salt Lake City for our three-day “dolphin thinking” event. The seminar had been underway only a short while when the first signs of distress in this trio began to appear. As time passed, the storm clouds on their faces just kept growing.
We intended to speak privately with the distressed threesome during the noon hour, but we never managed to get a word with them. At the first opportunity, our agitated guests grabbed their gear and sprinted for the parking lot like they were being chased by a bear (or a shark!). Jumped in their car and, presumably, fled back to Utah.
And that was how we discovered a very simple way to tell whether a person is ready to think like a dolphin: tell them about the dolphin’s iron fin and discuss what, if they choose to be a dolphinthinker, they are meant to do with it. And see if they hang around.
So that’s the story of how the carp-shark-NoQuiff-dolphin mindset and worldview model came into being and a little lore about those early days. The rest, as they say, is history.
BASKETBALL MAY BE JUST SO MUCH BOOLA BOOLA TO A LOT OF FOLKS. BUT IF YOU STUDY THE FUNDAMENTALS OF MAKING THE LEAP, WHAT KENTUCKY’S JOHN CALIPARI IS ATTEMPTING IS WORTH KEEPING AN EYE ON
One of the things that makes sports competition so compelling is that it is all about leaping, all the time.
You don’t have to wait forever to know who leapt well and who didn’t. Sports games usually have time limits. When time is up, the game is over, and unless there’s a tie, there is a declared winner. Someone has successfully made the leap and someone hasn’t!
Of course, there is a kind of false heroism involved in the leaping that occurs in sporting competition. And not just sports. In any kind of finite game, actually. I write about this in LEAP! I happen to love Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s argument in The Bed of Procrustes that “Games were created to give nonheroes the illusion of winning. In real life, you don’t know who really won or lost (except too late), but you can tell who is heroic and who is not.”
But Taleb may have been unduly harsh in his dismissal of opportunities for heroism in sports. At the very least, he could have been more accepting of the idea that the sporting arena often offers a fascinating environment for observing different approaches—maybe the right term is different styles—to making the leap.
At the moment, one of the most riveting approaches to making the leap in big-time college basketball is that of University of Kentucky coach John Calipari.
Kentucky has one of the most storied traditions of winning in American college basketball. And it has one of the most rabidly loyal (and excessively demanding) fans bases in sports. Knowing this, Calipari took the coaching job there with a singular theme to his basketball program. He committed to recruiting the very best high school players in the country, regardless of how long they intended to play college ball.
Now, if you follow the sport with any passion at all, you are almost surely aware of the relatively new revolving door “one and done” pattern of the college game. More than a few of the very best high school players are playing one year in college and then entering the NBA draft. If they are as good as they think, they soon find themselves millionaires under contract to play professionally, if not in the United States, in other hoops-crazy countries.
So the issue now facing Calipari with every new season is whether he can take a team replete with talented college freshman and succeed in making the leap.
Last year, he did so spectacularly. His Wildcats won the 2012 national NCAA championship. And then they had six players move on to the pros. This year, the consequences were disastrous. To the dismay of the Big Blue Nation (as Kentucky’s fans call themselves), Calipari’s team didn’t even get invited to the NCAA. And in the lowly tournament of the also-rans, the NIT, they were ousted in the first round by relatively unknown Robert Morris.
So the question on a lot of sports fans’ minds at the moment is whether Calipari can take the cream of the crop among young basketball players every year and get them to the next level faster than almost any other major college coach has ever tried to do. This year, he had another outstanding recruiting class, including four of the top 40 players in ESPN’s Top 100. But he didn’t get them to buy into the idea that there was a next level they needed to get ready to advance to double-time.
Next year? Calipari already has commitments from six of the top 18 players in the ESPN Top 100. Leap Time will be here quicker than you can say “show me your game face!” Nassim Taleb may be right. Maybe the heroism in sporting games is illusory, but if what John Calipari is attempting isn’t something to be learned from the annals of leaping, it is still very entertaining. And may even turn out to be instructive to those of us who see ourselves as professional observers and practitioners of what it takes to get to the next level. If you’d like to know more about Calipari’s leaping experiment, sports columnist Brian Kinel writes about it here.
Even if basketball doesn’t interest you much, it’s reason enough to keep an eye on how Kentucky does in 2014’s hoops competition.
IF YOU’VE GOT A DOLPHIN SMILE AND A DOLPHIN IDEA, WITH A LITTLE DOLPHIN ENTERPRISE, YOU CAN GET SOME GOOD MEDIA EXPOSURE
You can see how it’s done if you’ll go here. One of our favorite dolphinthinkers, Carlos Salum, founder of Salum International Resources (SIR), a management consulting firm based in Huntersville, NC, has a knack for providing authoritative answers to questions from reporters. Do it once and you’ll likely get to do it again. Carlos has made the news repeatedly during his tenure in the Charlotte, NC, area because he’s responsive, he always provides a useful quote, and he’s a photogenic person to boot (see his photo in the link to the Charlotte News & Observer website above and judge for yourself). The topic for Carlos on this occasion is the value of appointing an advisory board for your small business. He did so ten years ago for his own business and he continues to believe that such a board is worthwhile. (Full disclosure: the author of this blog is a charter member of the advisory board for SIR). If you’d like more detailed counsel on how to make an advisory board pay off for your small business, drop Carlos a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you’d like better insight into what makes Carlos Salum so frequently compelling to reporters and pundits, visit his profile in LEAP! He’s accumulated one accomplishment after another since fleeing from his native Argentina and its tyrannical, murderous right-wing dictators in 1985. Few devotees of the dolphin-thinking philosophy understand how to marshal its powers better than Carlos Salum.
The idea is the same but wouldn’t you know that the Brits would make it sound like a subject deserving to be debated at Oxford. But making the leap is exactly the idea behind the network of high-profile technology and innovation centers that the British government began establishing about a year and a half ago. The centers are intended to remove barriers between the country’s universities and its businesses when it comes to getting new ideas and discoveries into the marketplace. The first such innovation-promoting center to be established was aimed at high-value manufacturing. Then in rapid-fire order came centers for transport systems, the interconnected digital economy and satellite applications. The latest was announced this week. It will be based in London and will focus on how to create “smart cities” capable of handling the great migration of people into urban areas that is taking place world-wide. But the key word here is “catapult,” not “leap. The U.K.’s latest technology and innovation center is called The Future Cities Catapult Centre. If I were British, maybe I would have called this blog “CATAPULT!psych”. Or maybe not. Bernard Shaw (Sir Shaw to cognoscenti) once said that England and America were “two countries separated by the same language.” But in this instance, not by very far. Whether you make the leap or you catapult, it’s pretty clear that the idea is to get to the next right, smart, good thing as intelligently and expeditiously as possible.
DOLPHINTHINKERS LEAVE CLUES.
HERE’S A RUNDOWN IN CASE YOU THINK YOU SEE ONE SWIMMING TOWARD YOU OR STARING BACK AT YOU IN THE MIRROR
Not many commentators, and certainly not the author of LEAP!, would argue that actor Harrison Ford’s revered “Indiana Jones” character is a great role model for dolphin-thinking traits.
But who could forget that landmark scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when Marion has been captured by the Nazis and Indy is rushing to save her? Suddenly, a fierce-faced Arabian swordsman confronts our hero, bladed weapon raised menacingly. Knowing he has no time to waste in a sword fight, Indy just pulls a pistol and shoots the guy. Problem solved.
Metaphorically speaking, dolphinthinkers do things like that. But what else do they do that might help you recognize that you are in the company of someone who thinks this way?
Here are some qualities of thinking or behavior that may cause you to suspect that a dolphinthinker is close by (and that you might even be one yourself):
• Crisp, concrete, down-to-earth explanations of difficult, complex issues. Sometimes, a dolphinthinker sounds like a mystic, but only because of the intuitive strength often found in his or her gut-hunch appraisals of how the world works, what makes sense and what can be reliably depended on and expected.
• An unrelenting questioning of where basic causes lie and what can be learned from mistakes. In the dolphinthinker’s ethos, there is little interest in blaming or attempting to shame or justifying one’s own actions (or, for that matter, asking for forgiveness for having taken a risk in the first place).
• Little effort to “toot one’s own horn” unless it helps to serve as a catalyst for triggering a needed result or advances worthwhile matters in other ways. One reason it is sometimes difficult to single out users of the dolphinthinker’s belief structure is because they don’t typically play to an audience unless playing to one is how they make their living or helps to advance their personal vision or mission. They are their own best acknowledgers—and their own most observant and demanding critics.
• A highly functional understanding of what it means to be personally responsible Dolphins may be observed picking up nails that they spot in parking lots, turning off lights that others have left burning or scooping up other people’s litter—not because of a sense of duty but because they choose to in the interest of just taking better care of a world often in need of someone who understands, as the character in the movie Mindwalk did, that “healing the universe is an inside job.”
• A respect for weighty projects but little interest in creating empires of authority and control. Dolphinthinkers say, “I am here for the duration”—meaning that as long as it makes sense, he or she can be counted on. But the moment competency wanes, promises are broken, the pledged resources don’t materialize or the project ceases to offer a challenge or a desirable outcome, dolphins tend to let go and move on to something more promising, productive or satisfying.
• New freedoms from compulsions. To have it is to enjoy it, but there is little that dolphins genuinely require other than the basics with which to make good choices and get good results. If something is judged essential, they will usually find a way to get it, but there is little craving for non-essentials. Compulsive have-to’s are pretty much out; creative make-do’s are nearly always in. Fears, guilt, sorrows of the pedestrian kind—these emotions are quickly processed and left behind or transmuted into something positive and useful in the dolphin method of information processing.
• An uncanny sense of what is important for the big picture and the long haul. Seeing the metapattern just comes naturally. Seeing the interconnections, making the associations, looking for the whole, and not getting lost in the parts. Understanding how nature—or the butler—might have done it. And understanding how the new elements of the new global economy interrelate and what will help to suffice in a new kind of world.
• An innate joy in seeing others succeed. And an unusually selfless nature, as long as a basic fairness is maintained and—to say it again—as long as events, actions and outcomes make sense. For the dolphin, nonsense, generally, is out.
Above all, dolphinthinkers enjoy breaking through and being in the company of like-spirited individuals. This is why the pursuit of positive-sum outcomes and the encouragement of non-zero-sumness are so indisputably a part of the dolphin’s natural habitat.
If dolphinthinkers have a motto, they probably borrowed it from the late Hugh Downs and ABC’s 20/20: “We’re in touch, so you be in touch.” Their networks of colleagues, friends, clients and acquaintances are genuinely global, and their capacity to unearth useful information and allies is impressive. Paraphrasing Will Rogers, they seldom meet a deal they don’t like—if it makes sense. If it makes that much sense, eventually they will find a way to make something worthwhile happen. Whatever is happening at the moment, largo or fortissimo, they tend to view it as a treatable condition, one to reward with a breakthrough if possible, one to muddle through on, if necessary. The attitude can be described as a blend between the late Gilda Radner’s Saturday Night Live character’s “It’s always something” outlook and Morita therapist David K. Reynolds’ reality-based admonition to “do what needs to be done next.”
Because of all these “brain” calibrations, dolphinthinkers tend to show up more in certain places than others. Though they aren’t guaranteed to turn up a dolphin, these natural waters include, but aren’t limited to, entrepreneurial startups, places where cultural cross currents run swift, mentoring opportunities that augur unusual payoffs, leadership roles where you can write your own operating manual and experimental frontiers of new knowledge-finding where the unknown isn’t so much overrun as it is “schemed” into being. In such circumstances, good that you know what a dolphin acts and thinks like. I hope this Cliffs Notes-like review has proved helpful. And if you want to know more about how to find the next right, smart, good thing or make a dolphin move, there is, of course, that certain book that spells it all out in far more detail.
Entropy is easy. One just has to sit idle on the sidelines for entropy to prevail. But syntropy (the famed “negative entropy” essential for living systems) takes intelligence and work.
But work at what?
I’ve just spent a couple of hours thinking about good mental habits for people who want to be the most effective and consistent leapers! they can be. I’m pretty sure that the following activities need to be considered necessities for people who want to maximize the availability of “the power of next” (that is, the power of syntropy):
1. You need to stay pragmatic!
2. You need to avoid the utopias and the Utopians. They mean well but . . .
3. You need to look closely at what’s happening, what’s changing, what’s available and what’s suggested.
4. You need to favor results now as opposed to possibilities later.
5. You need the power of the pod—numbers but the right kind of numbers! (Use tools like the social media discriminatingly.)
6. You need to stay on message, work your vision, be clear on your purpose.
7. You need to avoid confusion about waves. More than ever in today’s world, you are being called on to juggle the old waves, the current waves and the incoming waves all at once.
8. You need to stay riveted on the sharks! Watch them, analyze their moves and their plots, out-think them, outmaneuver them, out-swim them.
9. You need to do your own reporting. (There is seldom a single source you can depend on for a sufficient picture.)
10. You need to exercise caution when you are around the “woe is us” folks (the carpthinkers), the “you need to be afraid” folks (the sharkthinkers) and the “all we all need to do is love and trust each other” folks (the not-quite-fishing fish, or NoQuiff thinkers).
11. You need to be ever-watchful for signs of brain bias—in your own thinking and decision making and in everyone else’s, too.
12. You need to beware of voodoo economics and those who are urging it on you.
13. You need to do anything you can to help people experience momentum because it’s much easier for people to cooperate when everyone is moving forwards.
14. You need to do anything you can to improve human nature and human intelligence, even by a little bit, so as to encourage people to think on a wider scale, even by a little bit.
15. You need to be careful of thinking in terms of smooth progressions. (Those who foresee upward curves continuing ad infinitum, almost as a matter of faith, are no better grounded than other transcendentalists and predictors of rapturist fulfillments.)
16. You need to help find solutions to power juggernauts like the health care industrial complex and the military industrial complex. (History shows that it is typically the overextension of the military that eventually does the empire in.)
17. You need to find a way to keep the sharkthinkers from hoodwinking the carpthinkers into thinking that The Great Shark Way is for everyone’s benefit instead of mostly the sharks’ benefit.
18. You need to constantly steer things toward the middle and moderation.
19. You need to pioneer in finding mind changing experiences, the kind that will alter how the brain is wired. (We humans are usually capable of changing our mind if the experience is profound enough.)
20. You need to encourage the quest for synergy, understanding that its betrayal is what sends most promising opportunities off the track.
JACK PALANCE’S CHARACTER ABSOLUTELY HAD THE RIGHT IDEA IN INSISTING THAT ONE THING LOOMS OVER ALL ELSE IN MAKING SUCCESSFUL LEAPS
On her blog, “She Writes,” Julie Luek commented the other day on how important it is to know your purpose if you want to succeed at making the leap consistently as a writer or in any other endeavor.
Here’s how she introduced the idea:
“One of my favorite movie scenes is from the film City Slickers. In the scene Jack Palance’s character, Curly, a grizzled cowboy with a cigarette dangling from his lips, is riding on horseback alongside Billy Crystal’s city character, Mitch, who is in the throes of a midlife crisis.
“Curly turns to Mitch and asks, ‘Do you know what the secret to life is?’
“Mitch eagerly responds, ‘No, what?’
“Curly holds up one, leather–gloved finger. ‘This.’
“’One thing. Just one thing.’ Curly pauses. ‘You stick to that and everything else don’t mean shit.’
“’That’s great, but . . .’ Mitch shrugs his shoulders slightly. ‘What’s the one thing?’
Curly points his finger at Mitch. ‘That’s what you got to figure out.’
I agree with both Curly and Julie.
For years, at Brain Technologies, we’ve encouraged folks to take a very serious look at what their purpose is. In fact, we’ve gone so far as to develop an instrumentality for helping serious purpose searchers identify this unwavering “north star” for guiding them through life’s leaps. That tool is called PathPrimer®. You’ll find more details here.