Hugh Ranks Pep Talk – How to Analyze Political Language

Get Results: true education comes from questioning what your told
Get Results: true education comes from questioning what your told

Hugh Rank may be better known for his model of persuasion, but he did also come up with the Pep talk, a framework for analysing political language.

It’s particularly important to be aware of the tricks politicians might employ to take control of the population through a form of mind control, manipulating the masses to their will.

Rank believed arming people with this framework might help protect against such trickery.

When you’re next watching the news, or some political broadcast, look out for this framework at work. Question politicians and media motives, pay particular attention to the language being used. For example if you’ve listened to some of the Brexit debate lately, you may have heard terms such as

  • “we risk falling off a cliff edge”,
  • “into the abyss”,
  • “storm clouds are gathering”,
  • “we’ll be left in the wilderness”,

Now, consider the intent behind such emotive language. What are politicians (and the media) trying to get you to do, what is their intent?

Whether you believe it’s likely to be true or not, what such language is attempting to do is influence your views, mess with your emotions and stir a reaction from you. It’s trying to stoke up fear, largely based on nothing but opinion and assumptions rather than fact and evidence. This isn’t the Pep talk framework in full effect, but some elements are at play here.

However you have seen the Pep talk at work, in all it’s glory, during the war on terror, particularly after 911.

The “pep talk” calls for committed collective action. Emotional intensity and group bonding are the two prominent features of a “pep talk” which is made up of the following components..

(1)the Threat; (2) the Bonding; (3) the Cause; (4) the Response.

1. The Threat

Rank believes persuaders are often problem makers using the following tools:

  1. words – warning, name calling, horror stories
  2. images – atrocity pictures to intensify threat to the group by evil other

Persuaders use predictable fears – “We fear that someone stronger (DOMINANCE) will take away our life (DEATH), our possessions (DESTRUCTION), our territory (INVASION), our freedom (RESTRICTION); or that someone else has more (INJUSTICE); or that a human system will break down (CHAOS).

There are six category of fears;

  1. Death and destruction
  2. Invasion
  3. Restriction
  4. Dominance
  5. Injustice
  6. Chaos

The threat may be direct and tangible (such as traffic gridlocks, widespread power outages, computer network failures, mob riots, food shortages, contamination) or the threat may be indirect and intangible (such as inflation, bank failures, devaluation of currency). But, in both cases, the harmful effects are, nevertheless, real and felt.

In political campaigns, the incumbents usually stress how well the systems work; the opposition party charges that the system should work better, and that there should be change, reform.

2. The Bonding

Hugh Rank believes there are three basic themes in bonding actions, which are the same, no matter what threats or causes are involved, these are:

  1. Unity – “united we stand”
  2. Loyalty – “be true to your…”
  3. Pride – “we’re number one…”

Such bonding activities relate to past and present and involves organised group activities such as teams, parades, picketing, chanting, singing and/or wearing uniforms, these are used for gathering and keeping the group together ready for action.

Once the group is bonded a structure and organisation comes into being. Individuals often gain self-esteem from joining such groups, have roles to play and jobs to protect.

So bonded groups need a sense of movement and progress, often obtained by introducing new threats and new causes.

3. The Cause

Rank says a cause involves a sense of duty to defend someone from a threat and gain a benefit.

People working on a cause often increase their own self image and have a sense of moral superiority and self righteousness. They basically come from the view that “we are informed and good: they are ignorant and evil”

Causes often conflict, sometimes directly, more often indirectly. Opponents often disagree on what the main issue is. Dominance, or power, is sometimes the “hidden agenda.” Related causes often cluster, so group-bonding attempts often overlap.

Cause rhetoric can sometimes be controlled, like a thermostat, by organized groups, but sometimes gets out of control, like a wildfire, because individuals may internalise a strange mix of messages and respond in violent ways.

  • It’s our Duty … Obligation … Responsibility … Mission … Job … Work … Task
  • to Defend … Protect … Guard … Save … Help … Shield … Safeguard … Aid … Serve
  • the … Nation … Country … Homeland … People … Workers … Common ManPoorOppressed … Children… Unborn … Future… Animals …. Environment
  • … from a threat and gain a benefit:
  • If the Threat is: DOMINATION
    the benefit is:
    Victory … Triumph … Success … Conquest … Control … Sovereignty … Mastery … Superiority … Dominion … Supremacy
  • If the Threat is: DEATH & DESTRUCTION
    the benefit is:
    Peace … Security … Safety … Stability … Tranquility … Calm
  • If the Threat is: INVASION
    the benefit is:
    Territory … Country … Homeland … Fatherland … Birthright … Community … Inheritance … Neighborhood
  • If the Threat is: RESTRICTION
    the benefit is:
    Freedom … Liberty … Independence … Choice … Liberation … Emancipation … Autonomy … Self-determination
  • If the Threat is: INJUSTICE
    the benefit is:
    Justice … Equality …Right … Fairness … Balance … Retribution … Revenge … Vengeance
  • If the Threat is: CHAOS
    the benefit is:
    Order … Prosperity … Progress … Abundance … Plenty … Growth … Efficiency … Honesty … Ability … Integrity

Rank says that duty,  defense, and  altruism  are the key  concepts.  The  basic  concept  of  a  “cause”  can  be expressed  in the following  formula:

A  “cause”  involves  a  sense of  duty  to  defend  someone from  a threat and gain a benefit.

4. The Response

Effective cause group rhetoric usually identifies specific actions to be taken by the receptive audience. Often, an urgency plea is used, together with some common triggering words.

  • Start – lets go, move, start or passively – rest, stasis, indecision or inaction
  • Fight – struggle
  • Endure – keep on, hold on, standfast, stick to it
  • Change – redirect, transform, channel, convert.
If the Threat is: Key “Cause” words: Response sought:
DOMINANCE Victory, Success Fight (or) Stop
DEATH OR DESTRUCTION Security, Safety Win (or) Stop
INVASION Home, Country Keep out (or) Get out
RESTRICTION Freedom, Liberty Free (or) Ban
INJUSTICE Justice, Equality More (or) Less
CHAOS Efficiency, Honesty Keep (or) Change
DAMNATION Virtue, Goodness Save (or) Keep

This is the outline of Ranks Pep Talk, it’s difficult to find much about it on the internet, his book by the same name is available on Amazon, and although, I haven’t read it, other than on his website, many years ago, it’s an intriguing subject, and as relevant today as it’s ever been.

Improve Your Advertising Effectiveness

Get Results: Marketing is about providing the right offer, to the right personal in the right place at the right time
Get Results: Marketing is about providing the right offer, to the right personal in the right place at the right time

Most advertising by small businesses is ineffective and simply a waste of money.

However, advertising is essential if you’re going to succeed. So here are a few points to consider for making your advertising effort effective.

  1. Be clear about what you’re trying to achieve.
  2. Advertise to the right people, at the right time, in the right place.
  3. Understand what advertising can and can’t do.
  4. Hire someone who is skillful to write your ad and someone equally skilled to design it.
  5. Make sure your advert tries to do just one thing. More messages simply confuse and dilute your main point.
  6. Don’t try to sell everything to everyone, segment your audience and sell one thing to each.
  7. Put enough money to run your ad enough times, in enough places, with enough frequency, over a long enough period for people to notice it, and notice it again.
  8. know it’s not enough to shout at people to grab attention, such you have to stand out in some way, but you need to go  further to hold their attention long enough to deliver your sales message.
  9. Understand that it’s not enough to tell people just the facts.
  10. Understand that advertising doesn’t work by simply making rational argument, you need to engage your audience emotionally, if you’re going to get them to take action.

Top 7 Business Essentials

get results: a satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all
get results: satisfied customer

I was recently contemplating, what are the most important aspects of running a business. Here in order of importance, is what I have come up with..

1. Add value

Provide something of value that people are willing to pay you for, after all, if you’ve nothing that people want, regardless of how much you might like your offering, it’s a non-starter. Find a solution to a problem, something that scratches an inch, so to speak. Find a need, find a want, and work out a solution to solve it.

Become a good deal maker. Middle men leverage their resources to help both creators and customers. They bridge the gap in such a way as to provide value to other parties.

Win-win situations are the best for sustainability, for customers, suppliers and partners. If you’re not providing some benefit to any of these parties, you’ve got a limited shelf life.

Find gaps in markets. Where are existing solutions falling short?

Use and combine existing solutions to create even more value. My photography business brings together makeup artist and photographer to provide makeover photoshoots. It adds value to the existing propositions of both services.

An effective business person, successfully executes the promised value proposition from sourcing through to production/service to final output.

2. Have the right mindset

Get Results: acquire knowledge, be motivated, be productive
Get Results: acquire knowledge, be motivated, be productive

Be Motivated

Find and maintain motivation so that you take action and follow through.

Believe in what you’re doing or trying to achieve. But always keep number one in this list in mind.

Become self aware. Understand why you do what you do and don’t do what you don’t do.

Initiate momentum. Progress from a standing start into something meaningful. Once you make a start inertia will build and make things easier.

Take responsibility for actions and outcomes. No blaming others and complaining that this or that isn’t working out for you. Develop a can-do attitude.

Be resourcefulness, make use of yours and other people’s resources and make it happen!

Learn to be able to shift perspective. Re-framing how you think about something can often change  your performance, because thoughts  lead actions. Most of our  beliefs are built on shaky ground, built from assumptions and inferences, rather  than facts and evidence. I love to use quote graphics as a way of looking at something from fresh perspective.

Be committed to what you’re doing. Burning bridges, means you’re  forced to give full commitment to a particular course of action. I’m not particularly advocating this extreme approach, but if you’re forced down one path, you’re likely to find a way, even if the road ahead is a bumpy one.

Develop a strong work ethic. You’ve got to be prepared to put the work in if you’re going to succeed. Sure you can look to make things easier, by working smarter, but the more you’re prepared to put into something, the more you’re likely to get from it.

Embrace change and uncertainty. Change and uncertainty presents uncomfortable risk for many, particularly if they live from hand to mouth or with little margin for error, in terms of indebtedness. From an evolutionary standpoint we’re hard wired to resist situations that present uncertainty, because our ancestors may have mistakenly wandered into the path of a dangerous predator in years gone by, possibly resulting in loss of life. These days, we don’t live with such life threatening consequences if we get things wrong, but we still fear any threat to the status quo, in much the same way.

Always try to overcome fear and inner conflict, because these feelings will inevitably hold us back from making progress. Often the fear is greater than the reality.

Get Results: taking action requirements
Get Results: taking action requirements

Pay attention to your coping strategies. Coping strategies are designed to prevent cognitive dissonance, but often we use them as excuses not to follow through. I call them coping excuses, because we justify to ourselves why we do or don’t do something, even if it’s not really the right thing.

Replace bad habits with good ones. Bad habits are hard to break, and often it’s easier to replace them with good habits.

Be Productivity

Stay focused. It’s so easy to get distracted by the new shiny thing, but staying focused and maintaining progress is so important. Know where you’re going and measure progress against this. Be a meaningful specific rather than a wandering generality as Zig Ziglar used to say.

Be organised and work against a plan of action. Having a system to work within makes daily activities routine and habitual, and as a result much more likely to be done efficiently. The more you do things the better you get at them. This advice comes with a caveat though, don’t stifle creativity. Routine and organisation, is a left brain activity, creativity is a right brain activity, and it’s hard to keep switching between the two.

Improve problem solving and decision making. All life is about solving problems and making decisions and the better you can get at these, the more successful you will be.

Utilise IQ, EQ, talent and skill. Play to your strengths, improve and work at making them better, and use them to your advantage. You are uniquely you, so make the most of what you’ve got. We all have something.

Find the best way things can be done, not just the best way you can do them. Be a master of what you know, and an apprentice of what you don’t know. The moment you think you know it all, is the moment you stop listening and learning. Take the scientific approach and look to disprove your hypothesis, rather than falling into the trap of confirmation bias, where you look to confirm what you believe, while ignoring or rejecting anything that runs counter to them.

Knowledge acquisition

Find reliable sources of accurate information. Don’t be embarrassed to admit you are still learning. Life has something to teach us every day, even if it’s how not to do something. Always be learning.

Employ experts to help you. Don’t expect to do everything yourself, use the expertise and passions of other people to help your business. Get skilled employees, partners and suppliers to grow your business. Get others to do the things you don’t like to do, this underlines the point I previously highlighted about the importance of improving self awareness.

3. Master the art and science of Marketing and sales

Always be marketing and building your brand.

Think long term over short term.

Build your reputation, and influence what people say about you when you’re not there.

4. Understand your Financials

Financial literacy is essential to business success.

Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity.

Understand the importance of cash flow and the difference between it and profit and why you can go out of business even if you’re making a profit.

Study your profit and loss figures.

Use financial info for decision making.

Remember there are only 2 ways to make more profit, either by selling more goods and services (volume) or by making more profit per £ of sales.

There are only 3 ways to get more sales; by getting more customers, increasing transaction volume or by increase transaction frequency.

Keep costs down. They only rise if more is being spent per £ of sales or sales  are increasing therefore increasing costs (volume).

Know lifetime value of customers and use this knowledge to work out your marketing budget.

5. Have direction

Be a meaningful specific rather than a wandering generality as Zig Ziglar used to say.

Have a clear vision and goal to give you a strong sense of direction, otherwise you’ll by like a rudderless boat, being dragged around by the tides of circumstance.

Develop a definite plan of action and strategy, but build in room for flexibility, because sometimes things come along we could never have anticipated, and we shouldn’t reject them because they don’t fall perfectly in line with what we were intending to do. Just be wary we’re not being pulled unnecessarily and unproductively off course with no benefit.

Work on the business not in it. Don’t lose yourself in the day to day stuff, you’ve got to keep one eye on the big picture at all times.

Be ahead of the demand curve not behind it. Otherwise you’ll have to work harder to maintain income, because of the downward pressure on prices later in products life cycle.

6. Future-proof yourself

Disrupt your own business model before  others do. Technological advancement is so rapid these days, you’ve got to keep an eye out for major shifts in your industry. The music and film industries have endured major industry shifts over recent years, and they won’t be the last to do so.

Innovate. Always be look to be better, faster, be more convenient, provide better quality, and add more functionality to the value  you provide.

Demand continuous improvement, from yourself and your team.

Consider multiple income streams to hedge and spread risk. Having your eggs in one basket is a dangerous game to play in such a fast moving and changing  environment.

If you’re not progressing you’re falling behind, so drop the idea of maintaining the non-existent status quo.

Always be doing SWOT analysis. SWOT which stands for strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats is a great tool for analysing your business. If you pay particular attention to the threats your business faces, you have a chance to turn these into opportunities, and disrupt your competitors.

Use cost benefit analysis to weigh options.

Use Decision matrix when considering options, so that you fully analyse all the variables and attributes in play.

7. Be a good Leader

Lead your team.

Inspire employees.

Use a carrot over stick approach.

Sell your vision to your employees. Get them enthused by your passion.

Encourage contributions from employees. Two minds or more are often better than one. They give you an opportunity to see things from a different perspective, from someone with different life and work experiences than yourself, and this can only be a good thing to tap into.

So there you have it, hope you get some value from this post, please share with anyone you think will benefit from reading it.

Check out our business guide for more information.

Check out more business related posts here.

Often Wrong, Never In Doubt

Get Results: often wrong never in doubt
Get Results: often wrong never in doubt

The quote “Often wrong, never in doubt” is often used in the context that you have to be confident in yourself and not doubt yourself even though you may be wrong. Doing something and failing is far worse than doubting yourself and therefore not even trying.

An alternative view can be taken from this statement, the meaning I took from it when I first heard it, was that it refers to over-confidence in some belief that could very well be wrong. It’s the delusion of certainty without actually having the full facts.

I see this as a major problem, rather than something to draw inspiration from. Sure we have to take risks in pursuit of dreams sometimes, but we should always strive to have the full facts and not follow things on a whim.

Beliefs shape behaviour and at the extremes, people are willing to die or kill in pursuit of their beliefs, As a society, we really don’t want beliefs being built on such shaky ground.

Question yourself, where have your strongest held beliefs come from? Can you back them with evidence? Are they built on truths?

I’ve done this myself, and many of my beliefs, held for many years are built from assumptions, inferences and from the testimony of other people, often people I considered experts and authority figures. Very few have come from my own research, from facts and backed by hard evidence.

I’ve learned to test and check as much as possible, and take everything else with some level of scientism.

Relying on the testimony of others seems like a good strategy, it makes sense, after all we don’t need to reinvent the wheel, we can stand on the shoulders of giants and make use of their knowledge. If you want to learn about wealth creation, learn from someone who has built wealth, if you want to learn about health, learn from someone who has achieved great health and fitness.

However be wary of authority figures manipulating you for their own ends.  We’ve all seen scandals and cover-ups from banks, politicians, businesses and trusted individuals who turned out to be lying and misleading for their own ends. I take the view, the bigger they are the less we can afford to trust them. Mainly because financial pressures change people, the more they have the more they fear losing what they have. This makes them do things they might not have done before.

I am now very cautious of anyone who is certain of being in the right, knowing the truth, and who are subsequently certain that this or that will happen in the future, but have no real evidence or data to back that opinion up. If they are unwilling to at least, listen to an alternative view, I tend to run a mile. Their beliefs are out of control, and it’s likely to end in tears for somebody.

So what should you do if someone tells you something?

In a  recent study from Northwestern University psychologist David Rapp  outlines several ways to avoid falling into the misinformation trap:

  1. Critically evaluate information right away. That may help prevent your brain from storing the wrong information. “You want to avoid encoding those potentially problematic memories,” Rapp said.
  2. Consider the source. People are more likely to use inaccurate information from a credible source than from an unreliable source, according to Rapp’s previous research.
  3. Beware of “truthy” falsehoods. “When the truth is mixed with inaccurate statements, people are persuaded, fooled and less evaluative, which prevents them from noticing and rejecting the inaccurate ideas,” Rapp said.

I would add a couple of other things to this list. First, whoever is telling you, ask yourself, what’s in it for them? What’s their angle, have they anything to gain for telling you what they’re telling you? Even if you can’t answer these questions, be skeptical.

Finally I would add one last thing, ask them, how do you know? where’s the evidence? If their answer is something like, they’ve heard from a friend, or from unnamed source, take it with a  pinch of salt. If they’ve got first hand experience of it, then take note, but again refer to the previous point of questioning their motives.

So in conclusion, we should be very cautious about our beliefs and those of others. Question everything, don’t just take things at face value. Beliefs are dangerous, particularly when you hold them with conviction, and have little insight into where they really come from. Social conditioning is very effective at indoctrinating people into doing what’s best for society or for a particular cause. This is not always the best for individuals.

For instance, parents often push us to play safe and not take unnecessary risks because of their social conditioning and fears instilled in them by their parents. They are just as socially conditioned and as blind to their conditioning as we are. It’s kind of like the blind leading the blind. They love you and care for you and want you to be safe, so they project their fears onto you, and so the cycle goes on through you and your children.

We might grow up with the belief that we should always PLAY IT SAFE, when we’d be better taking calculated risks at certain times or WORK ON OUR WEAKNESSES, when we’d be better doubling down on our strengths.

Question your beliefs and subsequently your opinions and views, and don’t be one of those people who are often wrong, never in doubt.

Letting Go Of Attachments

Get Results: cognitive attachment map graphic
Get Results: cognitive attachment map graphic

Non-attachment is about not resisting loss. It’s partly about surrendering to what is and not holding on to anything or anyone so tightly that you invest your sense of self in that attachment.

This is easier said that done, but it’s the goal. Partly by adjusting EXPECTATIONS, by understanding that all attachments are fleeting, and impertinent.

Also you can adjust your PERCEPTION of your relationships with attachments, removing ownership desires and delusions.

If you can do this with any attachments, you can enjoy them more with a deeper level of gratitude. Enjoy them while they last, rather than wasting energy fearing their loss.

The reality is you are going to lose them at some point, so better get your head around it, enjoy them and get on with it.

More about attachments

Think about your attachment to say, your home. You invest your hard earned money in something that you hope will not just provide you a home but also some security in your old age. It’s free to live in once you’ve paid off your mortgage, but when you die, you will leave it to your kids most likely. You surrender your claim to it through death. It provides security in life but death parts your ownership of it. The reality of your attachment is, you get to make use of it while you’re here, but then it moves on to your next of kin. The ownership is permission to exclusively use of it, for a limited time, nothing more.

Ownership of your home is one of the more financially savvy things to do, but we often attach to other possessions in much the same way, but not for investment reasons. We feel attached to anything we consider “mine”. Cars, clothes, phones to name a few. We feel the same sense of loss for things that don’t actually have any investment value to us. They depreciate in value over time, yet we get upset if we lose them or they are taken from us. This is because we have invested our sense of self in them.

They come to mean something to us, they are part of who we see ourselves to be. They are part of us. If we hear about someone, we don’t know, having their car stolen, we may not pay much attention to it, but if it’s our car that’s stolen we become upset. This is attachment. The difference is my car is part of my sense of self.

The more stuff we have, the more attachments we have, the more chance of feeling upset when we lose any of them, because we feel we’ve lost something of ourselves.

Attachments spread to people. We may invest our sense of self in our  friends and family. They become part of us. When they suffer, we suffer. We mourn their loss. We may focus on our lives not being the same without them. It’s never going to be the same again, we may think. This is mourning a loss of the quality of our lives, a loss to our sense of self. Sure we may also feel sorrow for the other person, for their lost opportunities, unrealised desires etc, but a big part of grief is loss for ourselves. It’s a selfish tendency, but a natural one, when we hold tight to attachments.

We need to enjoy our close relationships, make the most of the time we have with them, but understand they are impertinent. When that person has gone, enjoy the memories we shared, sure, but always focus on our remaining relationships, because they too are impertinent.

We can also be attached to ideas, thoughts, political parties, religious ideologies, mental positions and views. When these attachments are challenged or attacked, we feel the same emotions as if we were being attacked, personally.

It could be argued that attachments to possessions and people are in fact attachments to the the thoughts or ideas about a possession or person, rather than an actual attachment to the subject of the attachment.

Attachments to thoughts can be very dangerous, because repetitive thought patterns become our BELIEFS and most of what we do in life is shaped by our beliefs. Wars are fought, lives are lost over strong attachments to beliefs. I won’t go into depth about belief attachments here but they are discussed elsewhere on this website.

Summary

It’s self preservation that pushes us to attach to things. Attachment is a survival instinct. We fight for what we are attached to. But attaching has a downside. We feel pain when we lose the subject of our attachment.

We are destined to feel pain, because all attachments are impermanent. In spiritual terms, attachment is of the Ego. We have ourselves wrapped up with the attachment, it is part of our sense of self, part of who we see ourselves to be. “It’s mine”, we tell ourselves.

We can become attached to people, possessions, ideas, thoughts, and political and religious ideologies. In fact all attachments are made via our thoughts. thoughts about people, possessions, mental positions, ideologies etc. Thoughts are the creator of attachments and also the point where we can break  our attachments. If we change our thoughts about these attachments, we can change the attachments themselves.

Changing our expectations about our attachments means we no longer expect them to be available to us forever, because all attachments are impermanent. This is a fact, but instead of fearing their loss, fill your energy with appreciation and enjoy them while you can.

We can also Change our perceptions about our attachments. We get to enjoy them for a time, but they are not ours. Ownership is an illusion. We are custodians only for our possessions, and only for a limited period of time.

We should also question our thoughts about all our attachments, increasing awareness about the why we hold on to them. Where do we get our ideas, thoughts from? Why do we hold only certain political and religious ideologies.? Most beliefs, which are rigid thought forms, are taken from inferences and assumptions, rather than from fact and truths. So be very curious about any such attachments. We are all products of our experiences and environments, and we may only know what someone else wants us to believe, rather than what is fact and what actually serves us best.

The Art Of Learning

Get Results: learn with pleasure and remember
Get Results: learn with pleasure and remember

Learning any new skill can be a very intimidating prospect, to begin with, we’re likely to clumsily fumble around like a baby learning to walk, often falling on our asses, but over time, with enough perseverance, we’re all capable of metaphorically rising elegantly to our feet and not just walking, but running, dancing and jumping, and some people, with practice, can somersault and land back on their feet with great style.

In these modern times, with technology driving the business landscape to change so rapidly, there is a greater requirement for individuals to also be able to change rapidly, to be able to learn and develop new skills, and be open to new challenges and demands.

The ability to learn rapidly is going to be increasingly necessary if individuals are going to thrive.

So learning quickly is going to be a must, moving forwards. So the question is, how can we learn and master new skills fast?

Tim Ferriss has developed a learning framework he calls  DiSSS, which is an acronym for Deconstruction, Selection, Sequencing and Stakes.

1. Deconstruction: What are the minimal learnable units we should be starting with?
2. Selection: Which 20% of the blocks should we focus on for 80% or more of the outcome we want?
3. Sequencing: In what order should we learn the blocks?
4. Stakes: How do we set up stakes to create real consequences and guarantee we follow the program?

We’re looking to break a skill down to it’s most important components.

I find it easier to imagine starting a new project from scratch, and walk through it, step by step, noting down each requirement as  I go.

I have recently put some of the teachings, found on this website, into practice for myself, while learning Python programming. Things like, finding reliable sources of accurate information by using role models, mentors and mastermind teams, and finding out the methods, relationships, systems and habits they use  for success. You can find more about these things on other articles on the site, so I won’t go into depth here, but as part of the learning process I also looked to deconstruct the skill of programming into it’s essential ingredients. This is what I came up with..

Essential elements of programming

  1. Understand the syntax for Python code, so that it does what I need it to do.
  2. Develop the ability to break a problem down, so that I can use Python code to address or solve it. After all code is written to solve problems, some of which are complex and some of which are more straight forward.
  3. Following on from number 2, being able to spot problems to begin with is also a skill that can be developed, not everyone has enough empathy for others to be able to stand in their shoes and see how they see any given situation. Good coders either solve problems they, themselves experience and need fixing or they empathise for other people.

These were my major findings when it came to DECONSTRUCTING Python, these being the top level concepts that I needed to learn about and develop. They constitute the 20% that needs learning to achieve 80% of the results, in my opinion, as Tim Ferriss advocates in his DiSSS framework.

In terms of number 1, understanding the syntax of Python, there were/is countless websites and YouTube videos devoted to the subject. The most time consuming part of it was finding reliable ones that made it easy for a newbie like me to understand.

Some of the tutorials mixed mathematical principles and coding together, which for me, made it rather confusing, as I needed  to brush up on maths I hadn’t used for years, such as Algebra. I eventually found the tutorials that linked the new concepts I needed to learn about Python programming to things I already understood, and this made the learning process much easier.

The list of important syntax included:

  • Commenting on your code
  • Variables
  • Mathematical operations
  • Logical Operations
  • Conditionals such as if, elif and else statements which effect a programs flow
  • Loops – for, while loops particularly
  • Built in library
  • External library and use of modules
  • Data types – strings/ integers/ floats/ booleans/ lists/ tuples/ dictionaries
  • Dealing with errors and exceptions
  • Functions
  • Classes

I practiced code examples, repeating time and time again, until I could recall the code without any prompting and completely from memory.

I practiced the code, broke it apart, removed some of it to see what happened, moved the order around to see what difference it made. I changed it so that I knew what each part did and why.

I progressed by making a few small apps for myself, such as one that just did a simple “to do list”, another that converted currencies, sizes, weights. I did one that helped in the decision making process, another that evaluated moods and so on. Through this practicing and the subsequent trial and error, I gained a better appreciation for what could be done using Python.

I went on forums and groups and tried to spot the problems in other people’s code and solve them. Some forums and groups had challenges that I tried.

Through this I not only improved my coding skills, I developed my problem solving skills and ability to use code effectively to provide real solutions, this also realised number 3 in Tim’s framework criteria, SEQUENCING. I didn’t set out to learn code before sharpening my problem-solving skills, it just intuitively happened that way.

My programming skills are still a work-in-progress but I’m getting better all the time, through purposeful practice, and challenging myself.

I’m 50 years old, and coding with Python is a completely new experience for me, but I’m enjoying the learning process which means I don’t really have to bother with the final criteria of Tim’s framework, STAKES, the shear joy of doing it is enough to keep me going, mixed in with the fact that it’s giving me new skills and a greater knowledge of the new technical world we are facing. With knowledge comes power as they say, but equally with knowledge comes less fear, fear of the unknown.

For more about learning click here.

Power Corrupts And Absolute Power Absolutely Corrupts

Get Results: power corrupts
Get Results: power corrupts

“Power corrupts and absolute power absolutely corrupts.”

It’s an interesting statement but is it accurate?

If you think about human nature we all have a tendency to gravitate towards inflating our sense of self, and avoiding situations that devalue it.

Evidence of this is all around us in everyday life. Arguments are engaged in to uphold ones sense of self. For instance, think about the reasons why you last argued, were you protecting something important to you? Something you’d invested yourself in. When you prefix “my…” to anything, such as“my idea”, “my thoughts”, “my opinion”, “my possessions”, “my kids” you make it part of your self-worth.

The mind believes, the more you HAVE the more you ARE, but the flip side of having more and being more, is that you also have more to lose.

When individuals gain more money, more power, more stature, it becomes more difficult to face loosing it, and so self interest and self preservation become even more important.

Those in power have more to lose by rocking the boat, by fighting again the very system they are benefiting from, so what do they do, they fight to preserve the status quo, because it serves them and after all, we are all designed to protect ourselves, it’s our survival instinct doing it’s job.

If you understand this trait of human nature, you come to realise that anyone in power is open to corruption, and is not going to drive through change that could potentially put them at risk.

You can’t defy human nature, we are what we are, but you can manage it, so that society is better for it, and so that those in power, serve society rather than themselves.

So how do we, the ordinary people, deal with the fact that people are self serving and power only increases this instinct?

Well, we start to actually hold politicians, businesses and powerful individuals to account, we make sure they deliver on the promises they benefited on the back of, and if they don’t they should know they have a great deal to lose.

Appreciate Your Now

Get Results: life is never not now
Get Results: life is never not now

I was recently talking to someone who was struggling to come to terms with a friend of hers leaving to join the army. The back story is that her best friend of 17 years had been living with an ex for 6 months due to financial constraints, and as a way out had decided to join the army and leave for 4 years with possible deployment oversees.

Apparently she would never have done this if she wasn’t stuck in this bad living situation, but has now become excited at the prospect of new beginnings.

The person I was talking to, let’s call her Elaine for the purposes of this post, was feeling angry and sad about her friend leaving, especially because she’d be leaving to potentially be part of a conflict and could find herself in great danger.

Although Elaine was being outwardly supportive of her friend, she was dreading her departure, and the thought of potentially losing their close friendship and had a lot of anger which was directed at her friends ex for putting her in this situation.

Elaine had a couple serious “are you sure?” conversations with her friend who had indicated that she was sure of her decision, and it being what she wanted.

If Elaine’s friend stays she will continue to work at her solid full time job, and will only have to keep living with her ex for another two months.

I told her the bottom line was she should let go of her attachment to their friendship and accept the situation as is, which involves both letting go, and surrendering to the present reality.

She shouldn’t resist the feelings she has. Instead examine her fear of loss by looking into it.

Bringing awareness to her story telling, by asking how much of it is speculation driven by fear, which is all of it, in reality. I told Elaine to be aware of this, and the fact that none of these thoughts are real, they are story telling embellishments out of control.

The truth is her friend is happy to go, so she should be happy for her. None of us know what the future holds, her friend could stay and get hit by a bus, and then Elaine would be thinking she should have let her friend go into the army after all, instead of talking her out of it. You can make stories up to either back her friends departure or for staying.

I advised Elaine to let go of the fear that is telling her that her friend is safer here rather than there. It’s her friends journey and she needs to go where she needs to go. We all have our own journey to travel.

We are all protective of those we love, we want them to be safe and secure, and when they are not with us we believe the danger is greater or that we may be left without them. This is of course a possibility, but we can drive ourselves crazy by running with these stories.

Loss is indeed part of life, all things are transient. Change is continuous and wishing for it not to be, does little to change the reality.

We should be grateful for the blessings we have, as they are happening, for the relationships, the places and the things we get to experience, in the moment we experience them. Instead of being completely absorbed by wanting, and chasing after more or better in the future, which many of us do, and are preoccupied with doing, only to realising what we had, but didn’t truly appreciate when we had them to enjoy. Nothing lasts forever, everything has it’s time and is subject to change, continually.

Accept the fact that change is part of life, be grateful for your blessings right now, and get used to the idea that the future is uncertain, but focus much more on the opportunities it can present, rather than the danger, and  risk that it may or may not pose.

The best solution is not to over think, but instead feel life in the moment it unfolds, in the present moment. Thinking is imagination, speculation, with no foundation in reality. It’s the creative story teller inside you, driven by fear. Love is now, fear is focused in the future. Appreciate all you have now. It’s fine to work towards a future goal, but prioritise NOW, and all that is in your now, because it might not be there tomorrow.

For more about spirituality click here.

For more about gratitude click here.

Enlightenment: Freeing Yourself From Thought

Get Results: Alan Watts Enlightenment quote
Get Results: Alan Watts Enlightenment quote

ENLIGHTENMENT comes from separation of AWARENESS and I INVESTED THOUGHT, particularly rigid thought forms such as BELIEFS. This realisation brings space to all situations, a gap to observe thought, but not be inside and part of thought.

It is impossible to go back fully to old thought habits once this shift takes place.

Thereafter the difficulty is dealiing with a society that is largely blind to this perspective and that continues to struggle along unconsciously, WANTING, ATTACHING and SEPARATING from it’s environment, seemingly insanely fighting over scarce resources, and desperately trying to be something different, better or somewhere else.

But that feeling too gets easier when you let go of EXPECTATIONS which after all are just thoughts.

It’s easy to forget, or fall asleep in some lazy moments and you risk becoming once again reactionary to your thinking, this is where some discipline and effort may be required.

It’s also tempting to try to over complicate enlightenment, because it seems too easy a process, to remove pain and suffering, but it is this easy if you remove your sense of self from your thoughts.

See the importance of the moments as they unfold, keep from wishing for the next moment to come or dwelling on your past.

Feel connected to and one with life itself.

Allow joy to flow into what you do, or at least accept the things you can’t enjoy as you do them.

Enthuse with all that is, right and wrong, front and back, up and down, black and white, for everything has it’s place, in the rich tapestry of life.

LIFE is about experiencing the good and bad moments, riding them like a wave, rather than fighting with all your might against them, being in those moments as experiencing energy, and following your bliss, wherever it takes you.

Find out more about spirituality and wellbeing here.

They’re Fooling You, Start Living The Life You Want

Get Results: focus on making a life
Get Results: focus on making a life

It’s time to wake up to the big lie.

If you only do what you truly love for a fraction of your waking life, because you have bills to pay, and other obligations, what kind of life are you really living? I mean seriously think about this for a moment.

Cutting costs is as good as earning extra income. Drop the excess to focus on the things that really matter to you.

Happiness doesn’t come from possessions, or having more stuff, because once you have them, and once the novelty wears off, it becomes part of the norm and you will tend to look towards the next new or better thing.

Marketers and the businesses behind them want to feed you the narrative that having more will make you happier, will enrich your life, and they do this because it serves them, not you.

WANTING is conditioned into us, and HAVING is the dream, but this is a lie.

Instead focus on BEING. experience life, get out of your head and into the experiential reality of life. Serve your soul, by enjoying the experience of people, places and pursuits that excite you and that bring you joy or should I say, you enthuse joy into doing.

Figure out a way to pay the bills you have to pay, the necessities, minus any unnecessary excess, while doing the things that allow you to BE true to yourself. This is the way you should be defining success or lack of.

Get Results: wheres you path taking you
Get Results: wheres you path taking you

It’s time to change perspective, to re-evaluate your financials, and live a life that truly engages you.