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WANTED: A NEW WAY TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN

Posted by on Feb 14, 2017 in Blog | 3 comments

WANTED: A NEW WAY TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN

America does need to be made great again.  But it cannot be done by warmed-up nationalism.  It has to be done through a new political ideal.  This is not an opinion.  It is written into the warp and woof of American history and American identity. The US is unique in many ways, but most importantly in this: it was settled by dissidents pursuing an idea.  The settlers were seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Protestants.  Their idea was a homogeneous Puritan community of independent citizens – God-fearing, hard-working, self-improving. ...

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IS PROGRESS REAL?

Posted by on Jan 31, 2017 in Blog | 3 comments

IS PROGRESS REAL?

Is modern society better than that of the eighteenth century, or the Renaissance, or ancient Greece or Rome?  The relentless 24/7 news media portray a world of conflict, disaster, and human turpitude. Was there ever a golden age, or are we living in it?  I believe there is a clear answer to this question, and it is good for us to realize it. I have just been re-reading a splendid essay on the subject by historians Will and Ariel Durant, written in 1968. I will summarize it before adding my own views, based partly on a difference of...

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WHAT ARE YOUR HAPPINESS & ACHIEVEMENT ISLANDS?

Posted by on Jan 17, 2017 in Blog | 2 comments

WHAT ARE YOUR HAPPINESS & ACHIEVEMENT ISLANDS?

One of my good Twitter friends, Shola Abidoye, has asked me to write a post on these islands. The idea is simple but surprisingly powerful.  Happiness islands are the times when we are happiest, cut off by warm, gently lapping seas, from the worries and woes of the rest of our lives. They can happen in life now, or for sustained periods in different parts of our life – maybe you were happiest in college, or living with a friend or friends, or doing a particular job. But you can swim to your happiness island at any time if you do the right...

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WHAT IS YOUR THEORY OF WHY YOU WILL SUCCEED?

Posted by on Jan 3, 2017 in Blog | 1 comment

WHAT IS YOUR THEORY OF WHY YOU WILL SUCCEED?

“Unlike phenomena in physics,” writes Professor Leonard Mlodinow, “events can often obey one theory or another, and what actually happens can depend largely upon which theory we choose to believe.”  This profound observation is my theme today. Mlodinow is a physicist turned student of the human mind, and in particular the unconscious mind – the mind that we are not aware of, but which is actually far more important than the conscious mind with which we reason and of which we are aware.  The unconscious mind actually does much of...

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ON THE FOLLY OF EVER FEELING BLUE

Posted by on Dec 20, 2016 in Blog | 11 comments

ON THE FOLLY OF EVER FEELING BLUE

This week a close friend called me to ask for counsel because he was feeling seriously down.  We all feel blue at some times, and it’s good to be clear that it is never helpful to let such feelings persist.  I was able to say three things that helped my friend – things that I have said to myself at similar times: The Psychological Immune System Psychologist and neurologist Timothy Wilson explains how we vastly over-estimate the happiness that winning the lottery – or any other event – will bring us, and that we similarly...

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REWRITING THE NARRATIVE OF YOUR LIFE

Posted by on Dec 6, 2016 in Blog | 10 comments

REWRITING THE NARRATIVE OF YOUR LIFE

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live … We live entirely by the imposition of a narrative upon disparate images, by the “ideas” which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience.” I was struck this week by this quote from Joan Didion’s book The White Album.  Whether we realize it or not, we all impose a narrative on our lives.  But I want to relate this thought to the one which I explored in my previous blog – Walt Whitman’s “Do I contradict myself?  Very well, I contradict...

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WHO ARE YOU?

Posted by on Nov 22, 2016 in Blog | 4 comments

WHO ARE YOU?

“Do I contradict myself?  Very well, I contradict myself.  (I am large, I contain multitudes.)”  You probably recognize those three lines from the Song of Myself by Walt Whitman.  The last line, that I contain multitudes, is my text for this post.  I have a simple proposition to make: We all contain multitudes.  We behave very differently at different times.  Sometimes we behave well, sometimes badly.  What is astonishing is how different the same person can appear to be at different times and in various contexts.  If we realize...

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WHEN TO TRUST A HUNCH, AND WHEN NOT

Posted by on Nov 8, 2016 in Blog | 11 comments

WHEN TO TRUST A HUNCH, AND WHEN NOT

Observation of happy and successful people leads me to think they have a knack of making the right intuitive decisions.  But when should you trust your intuition to the extent of making a big bet on it?  And when should you not? The Story of Mary from Maine Max Gunther, author of that great little book The Zurich Axioms, tells the story of a woman from Maine – I’ll call her Mary.  She made a nice living buying and selling real estate in New England.  She bought an old, large, run-down property by the shore in Maine.  Her builders...

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TRUMP HAS ALREADY WON!

Posted by on Oct 25, 2016 in Blog | 13 comments

TRUMP HAS ALREADY WON!

Note: This post is about life and business, not politics…   Donald Trump has performed an amazing feat of reframing reality.  Now, my impression of Trump is that he is an intolerable and despicable buffoon.  But perhaps he is just a publicity-seeking rational person having an enormous joke at the expense of nearly all of us.  I don’t recommend emulating Trump, except insofar as we can all bend reality to advantages in our lives and careers. The Donald has won because we are all talking about him – from me up to the President. As...

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HOW TO BE A BOSSY BOSS

Posted by on Oct 11, 2016 in Blog | 9 comments

HOW TO BE A BOSSY BOSS

There is a curious South African phenomenon – the bossy boss.  And while this might sound a bad idea, I have come to the view that it is good. One thing that is generally acknowledged – but not explained – is that for a tiny population of managers, South Africa has generated a large number of very successful entrepreneurs.  To name but two: Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and Space X and reckoned to be worth $12.7 billion; and the very charming and super-smart Mark Shuttleworth, brilliant serial entrepreneur and incidentally the second...

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