I Wish I Were Far From the Madding Crowd

August 24, 2010

The economy vs. the environment? How much do environmental issues matter?

Blog post, ” The Eco-Debate: How Much Do Environmental Issues Matter?“, confronts the issue of the environment vs. the economy, and argues that the two are not inseparable but that we can, that we need to, pursue sustainability.

I was struck by a quote by Paul Hawken cited in the post:

At present we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic product … We can either create assets for the future or take the assets of the future. One is called restoration and the other exploitation.”

(The post also notes that Hawken’s book, The Ecology of Commerce was voted the No. 1 college text by business professors.)

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March 6, 2010

Small steps, part 2

Going back to my previous post, “Small steps,” on One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way by Robert Maurer, one of the things he recommends is keeping a journal.  He says that psychological research shows that writing 15 to 20 minutes a day in a journal can be psychologically beneficial for a lot of people.

But in keeping with the kaizen approach, he recommends starting out writing two minutes a day.  Or just writing three sentences.  So, after the last longish post, I thought I’d quickly just write up a short one.

In addition to the chapters I mentioned previously, he identifies the following as a way to continue, “Solve small problems,” “Bestow small rewards,” and “Identify small moments.”

Maurer offers kaizen tips, a kaizen approach to New Year’s resolutions (exercise, eating more healthfully, and so forth), using kaizen to beat bad habits or addictions.  Note: Kaizen may not work for everyone.  And Maurer doesn’t oppose innovation, and based on his background (at the time the book was published he an associate clinical professor at the UCLA School of Medicine) I’m pretty confident that he would recommend seeking professional help if your problem is more serious.  He uses examples of people who were given orders by their doctors, but were finding it difficult to follow those until they started taking small steps.

And if you don’t know where to start?  Maurer suggests using kaizen techniques to figure out what your first small steps will be.

March 4, 2010

Small steps

Have started reading

One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way by Robert Maurer.  Workman Publishing, 2004.

Contrasts kaizen (small, comfortable steps) with innovation (a drastic process of change).  Interestingly enough, Maurer’s explanation of why small steps can actually help you accomplish more than drastic change ties in with some of Aron’s writing on Highly Sensitive Persons.

The chapters flow from “Ask small questions” to “Think small thoughts” to “Take small actions.”

Maurer says that one of the reasons drastic change often does not work is because thinking about what it would take to make such a change can cause fear, which triggers the fight-or-flight response of the amygdala.  The small steps taken in kaizen, on the other hand, do not trigger such a fear response.  So is there some sort of strong connection between the system Aron calls the “automatic pause-to-check” system and the amygdala?

I’m also intrigued by Maurer’s description of “mind sculpture” (from a book of the same name by Ian Robertson (which I will now have to track down at the library).  Mind sculpture apparently is going a step beyond visualization.

Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point (see below) would also appear to indicate how small steps can make a big difference.

Responses to “ How Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think?” (Edge Question of 2010)

Included information from a couple of the answers in my previous post.  Now I only have about 170 answers to go.  :)

Nexus: Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Theory of Networks by Mark Buchanan, c2002.

A fairly basic explanation of network theory and complexity theory.  I had become aware of Granovetter’s “The Strength of Weak Ties” from reading Andrew McAfee’s Enterprise 2.0 (listed below).

Buchanan explains some of the mathematics behind that, as well as the “Six Degrees of Separation,” which many people are probably aware of because of the connection with Kevin Bacon.  (If one expands that beyond movies and into books and music, many more people get drawn into his network.  More on that in another post.)

I’ve listed some other books I’ve recently finished, but following Maurer’s suggestions re small steps I’m going to stop for now and touch upon those in later posts, too.

Though I would highly recommend that everyone read Cradle to Cradle (see below) to find out what we’re doing to our environment—and ourselves and our health and our kids’ health—and why we need to stop making many of the industrial toxins we’re making and move toward a lifecycle approach to chemicals, rather than making things that just end up in landfills.

Recently read

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford. Three Rivers Press, 2004.

Elaine Aron.  The Highly Sensitive Person, c1996, and The Highly Sensitive Child, c2002.

Andrew McAfee.  Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges.  Harvard Business Press, c2009.

William McDonough and Michael Braungart.  Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things.  North Point Press, 2002.

Not so recently (but still thought-provoking)

Malcolm Gladwell. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.  Back Bay paperback edition, 2002.

Social epidemics; word of mouth; Mavens, Collectors, and Salesmen; “Ideas” (memes? viral ideas?); E-mail (discusses “immunity” to e-mail)

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