The Right Prescription

One of the greatest challenges we have with obstacles in our personal and professional lives is making them visible. There’s a book for that on my book list. There’s also lots of books at Amazon about what to do to remove the obstacles. Usually these books contain some overarching framework and several anecdotal examples that illustrate the author’s point. Annie Duke’s Thinking In Bets helps to adjust to the uncertainty of information when making decisions, but what do you do if the system you have for creating options isn’t yielding good results?

The answer is to change it! But how often is that easier said than done?

The military has a huge amount of rigidity built into its culture. It excels at teaching this rigidity in the basic training of each of the services. For the Army, basic training involves learning to fire a rifle. The experience of firing a rifle is new to some of those who join, and even for those that have fired before the type of rifle and shooting expectations for the Army are different from their previous experiences.

Completing the rifle portion of basic training is a non-waiverable requirement. The guy who enlisted to play the bugle in the band has to qualify the same as someone likely to be closer to the front lines. Getting folks trained to where they can pass is the responsibility of the Drill Sergeant.

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Jenny loves to shoot. Jenny became a Drill Sergeant. When someone who knows how to shoot is around people who can’t it can turn into a rather frustrating situation. I remember (over 20 years ago now) when I was in basic training if you couldn’t shoot you’d often get an earful. Somehow, Jenny came up with a different strategy that I think has broader application in than just on the firing range in the military.

When a soldier couldn’t shoot, Jenny would run through the basic troubleshooting steps. How’s your steady position? Are you breathing properly? Are you squeezing the trigger instead of jerking it? How’s your sight picture?

These are the questions to ask to assess the obstacles facing the soldier. Applying corrective action in one or more of these areas will likely solve the majority of problems, but they don’t solve all the problems. Basic training for a volunteer army doesn’t disqualify candidates like you might think. It tries to take those who are willing to volunteer and get them to the point they are capable of volunteering. There’s a lot of investment made to get those willing to become those who are capable.

Some people issues aren’t fixed by the responses to the questions above. But those are all the question the organization provides. That is, until Jenny gets there and sees things differently. Jenny started looking at their prescriptions.

What she found was that some soldiers would get their prescription glasses issued with the prescriptions reversed, the wrong prescription, or missed realizing that they needed glasses. The issue for some people was just straight vision related.

We’ve talked a lot about perspective taking. Here’s a case where it literally was the answer! But it’s also the answer to a lot of what we do in life. Sometimes when we’re working with someone who’s consistently missing their work targets the answer is to take them aside and help them get their prescription checked.

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Someone Needs To Remind Verizon…

Remind is a great application with a wonderful history of connecting educators and their classrooms so that way teachers can remind their students of upcoming assignments and help them focus to be successful. The application grew out of the need of one student and has ballooned into something we’ve enjoyed using for our swim team here in Meridian, ID.

Remind sends text messages to students and in so doing it relies upon cell phone carriers to send those text messages. Verizon has decided that Remind’s messages are spam. This is a bit odd. Sure they might come through a single SMS-prep server (when the app is sending them out to the carrier) but they’re composed by hundreds of thousands of people prior to that point. In Remind’s email to its users they state:

Your Remind messages aren’t spam, but our efforts to resolve the issue with Verizon haven’t been successful.

The team at Remind is pretty good, but obviously they haven’t been able to get the attention of the Verizon folks they need to. This is where a campaign to get Verizon’s attention may be warranted. Feel free to drop a tweet and let them know how the change will impact you.

It’s Not You Pay for What You Get

The process of getting out of debt can be frustrating, but it also teaches some amazing lessons. Some of which are completely unexpected. In that phase of things the value of a dollar takes on new meaning. The individual generally becomes more aware of the effort in each hour spent to creating wealth.

The stuff you have looks worn. New stuff (even new used) isn’t the right choice to make and then you look at what you have again and there’s a moment when you notice how the stuff you already have could be used to do more than what you expected.

It’s not about getting what you pay for or paying for what you get. It’s about using what you paid for.

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I paid for XXX. I may have gotten the value I paid for it out of its current use, but I PAID for it! The act of paying for something when you have very little becomes the motivator to do more with it.

I’m not turning the corner on becoming someone who takes random things in the house and turns them into Etsy art pieces, but I am looking at the things I’d like to offload and posting them for sale to give them a second life. I’m also trying to get the most out of what I have.

Getting Mad

Recently I discovered that the breakfast cereal Froot Loops doesn’t actually have fruit in the name. It was a pretty obvious observation, but one that I hadn’t made in my adult life. Now at just over 40 I found the insight to be a few years later than when I had preferred to notice.

I doubt there will be a spelling test when it comes time to be judged at the end of my life. The more likely test will be about whether or not I have repented. Recently I noticed something as painfully obvious as the spelling of Froot Loops, but this time it was about the repentance process.

In the Gospel Principles manual for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints it lists the steps of the repentance process as:

  • We Must Recognize Our Sins
  • We Must Feel Sorrow for Our Sins
  • We Must Forsake Our Sins
  • We Must Make Restitution
  • We Must Forgive Others
  • We Must Keep the Commandments of God

Getting mad at yourself is not one of the steps in the repentance process.

Let’s say it was.

How long are you supposed to be mad at yourself depending on the issue? What’s the ratio? Does steeling a something warrant being mad 1 week for every dollar? A week is a long time to be mad at yourself. Think of all the good things in life you’d miss out on being made at yourself for an entire week! What if the ratio was only a day? You’d still miss out on a pretty sunset/sunrise not being able to appreciate it if the ratio were a day. Do you think that’s the way it’s supposed to be?

Sounds painfully obvious, but how often do we fall into the trap when we realized that we’ve failed to make our failure feel worse by getting mad at ourselves? Annie Duke’s Thinking In Bets contains this insight about how we treat a loss.

Amos Tversky’s work on loss aversion, part of prospect theory (which won Kahneman the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002), that losses in general feel about two times as bad as wins feel good. So winning $100 at blackjack feels as good to us as losing $50 feels bad to us. Because being right feels like winning and being wrong feels like losing, that means we need two favorable results for every one unfavorable result just to break even emotionally.

Duke, Annie. Thinking in Bets (p. 36). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

We don’t like being wrong. It hurts. So it’s pretty easy to defend ourselves by taking the side of the authoritarian in our own mental narrative. This works against the goal of helping us overcome whatever we need to repent of. It’s an obviously dumb trap to fall into–just like thinking Froot Loops was spelled differently. Nonetheless, here we are. It takes mental effort to avoid and overcome the trap, but knowing that it’s there helps.

So, for those who could use a dose of the painfully obvious, (and it took me until I’m 40 to see it) getting mad at yourself is not part of the repentance process.

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Organically-Sourced Polyester

I enjoy finding phrases that don’t make sense. Hence the flapper words from a previous post. Organically sourced polyester would be one of those phrases.

Another one of my favorites is when a local gives you directions, sure they know the roads better than you, but they don’t understand the way you see the landmarks.

Go down Maple Street and two miles before you get to the old Jones’ house turn left. 100 feet later you’ll be right there!

Sure that sentence shows a mastery of the road network in the area. But it does so using some rather un translatable reference points. If you don’t know where the old Jones’ place is, you’re probably not going to get to where you want to go.

We can take a lesson from this when we mentor and coach our team mates. Take the time to consider their perspective and what they know. Use references they can relate to and help them get to where they’re going.

Who would have thought that a post titled Organically-Sourced Polyester would have been useful after all?

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Papyrus

Over used fonts are easy to spot in part because they’re everywhere. One of the greatest offenders is the font Papyrus. Originally written to satisfy the design idea of “what would English have looked like written 2000 years ago written on papyrus?” The typeface is an answer to that question.

But it’s overused! Even the designer says so.

When this happens we don’t mock the designer. He did a good job, but it’s perfectly OK to mock the use of the font–or better phrased the overuse of the font. At one point SNL got involved to do just that. It’s not often I’ll share an SNL clip, but this one is an absolute gem!