Different Is More Than OK

We have a lot of talk in our society about celebrating diversity and being different, but sometimes the feeling of being different and standing out from the crowd can lead us to feelings that were disconnected.

We need to remember that the two realities are not mutually exclusive. We are NOT islands unto ourselves, nor are we exactly as anyone else.

We are certainly part of a larger group and we are all certainly unique.

We simply need to let both of those realities have space in our mental narrative.

You’re different by design. Not by accident.

It’s Not The Experiences That Teach Us

I don’t think there’s been a generation on the planet that has the ability to live more full and active lives.  Our lives today are clearly full of all types of experiences.  When we travel to work we often travel at more than a mile a minute.  A pace that was thought impossible by those trekking westward traversing the Oregon Trail on foot!

My kids have traveled over the oceans and seen the Fjords of Norway.  They’ve seen castles in multiple countries and even the little village used to inspire Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

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While we’ve been to a lot of places and had a lot of experiences along the way I was surprised when I came across a quote that briefly articulated that our experiences actually had less value than I had realized.  It’s a short one liner from John Dewey.

“We do not learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience.”

We often think that a life rich in experiences is a rich life, but if you’re always running from one fast-pass activity to the next you’re missing out on the value those activities provide.  It’s important to take the time to reflect.

Psst!  That’s one reason for this blog.  It gives me my opportunities to reflect.  I just personally prefer to share me reflections in the hopes of sparking a dialogue in the comments.

Thinking In Bets

Today another book is getting added to my reading list, Thinking In Bets by Annie Duke

This is an amazing book that makes the case for understanding how our lives going forward have multiple futures. Annie carefully makes the case for seeing ourselves in this way and provides tools to help the reader live and navigate understanding how possibilities can be predictive, they are not prescriptive.

Annie explains that we often find ourselves judging our decisions by our results. Early the book she demonstrates how this cause-effect thought process is good, healthy, and helped us evolve. Then she demonstrates the limitations of such linear thinking and explains how in poker (a game where chance exists) not everything can be perfectly predictive. Her book offers down-to-earth advice on how to account for the elements in life that involve chance and how to live comfortably in that world where direct cause-effect is no longer king.

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I really enjoyed how the book not only makes the case for evaluating events going forward, it also makes the case for evaluating the decisions of our past. Once we can shed the results from our decision process it becomes easier to judge our actions (and those of others) based upon the environment and knowledge they had at the time. This process is perfectly in line with Tomas Sowell’s book Knowledge and Decisions, a classic book that discusses much of the same thoughts from an economics perspective.

I believe this book has other potential benefits as well that haven’t been stated. In Smarter Faster Better Charles Duhigg discusses some of the challenges Annie faced in her own life. Anyone reviewing her academic record would list her as highly functional (all doctoral coursework complete), yet Annie suffered from anxiety. From having worked around so many people in the military with PTSD and others who have anxiety I believe this book contains helpful instructions on thinking patterns that can reduce the impact of the thinking traps so common among those who live with those issues. One of the reasons why it’s been added to the Book List is because I’ll be recommending it to many of those who struggle to live now because they are haunted by their past.

The book isn’t explicitly written towards that audience. Instead it’s written with a much broader audience in mind. It’s perfectly crafted for those interested from a business, student, and personal perspective and so I’ll certainly be recommending to those in my other professional circles as well.

If you listen to the Audible version you’ll be pleased to hear Annie read the book at her own pace and with excellent inflection. I devoured the audio version on a recent family car ride. When I got home I enjoyed letting her know how much I enjoyed the book. I love living in an age where I can say thank you to someone as famous as brilliant as Annie Duke.

I also really appreciated that she read my tweet and hit the like button.