Tag Archives: goals

tony schwartz: the way we’re working isn’t working

the following is an interview with tony schwartz, who you may know as co-author with donald trump in the art of the deal.  tony just came out with a new book which i think everyone who has ever worked (so about 90% of the adult population) should read.  it is called the way we’re working isn’t working.  in susan lyne’s words

for two decades, tony schwartz has been observing and teaching the fundamentals of great performance.  his new book looks at why working harder doesn’t translate to working better.  backed by research and his own case studies, he offers a path to better results and higher rewards that should be hugely valuable to individuals and organizations alike.

isabella: you say that a good way to make deep and lasting change in your life is to create new rituals.  can you give an example in your own life where you have done that?

tony: wow! i actually have a life filled with rituals. i start every day by working out. that’s a ritual.  i begin my work day by doing the most important thing first, for 90 minutes, and then take a break. i take a break every 90 minutes throughout the day. i ritualize 8 plus hours of sleep. on saturday mornings, i sit with my wife of 32 years and we talk: she first, usually, with me listening, and then me, with her listening. building rituals that serve my life well has transformed my experience. my  rituals assure that i do what’s important to me, no matter what else is going on.

isabella: one of your tongue-in-cheek headers is “what do you want, and what will you do to avoid getting it?” i think this is a central question for everyone, whether at work, in relationships, in personal goals or anywhere else.  asking this question point-blank raises people’s hackles; have you found a way to ask this question so that people will actually reflect on it?

tony: well, interestingly, i think that it turns out you’re often better to start by helping people to build behaviors that serve them well ” the sort of rituals i’ve described above.  and then, almost inevitably, they’ll run into unexpected roadblocks and resistances.  that’s the opportunity to start exploring what’s getting in their way, because then you’ve got the energy of a person’s frustration working for you.  this helps explain why i believve that enduring change is ultimately a blend of many approaches: deepening awareness, cognitive work around the stories we tell ourselves, and explicit work aimed at changing specific behavioraa.

isabella: the idea of rhythm and balance (e.g. spending/renewing energy; work/rest; right/left hemispheres) is central to your book.  it reminds me of one of the seminal early new age books, george leonard’s the silent pulse. are you familiar with his book, and if so, could you touch on one or two areas where you have similar or different views?

tony: george leonard had an intuitive sense that building a rhythmic life rather than a linear one was the way to go.  he  was a lyrical writer, not a researcher.   what i’ve tried to do in the way we’re working isn’t working is to really lay out the multidisciplinary evidence for the fact that we’re designed to be rhythmic  and to really show how this works across all dimensions of our lives. physically, we need to balance rest and movement, eating and not eating, waking and sleeping. cognitively we’re at our best when we learn to move flexibly between left and right hemisphere dominance. spiritually we need to balance taking care of others with truly taking care of ourselves.

isabella: you propose that awareness has three dimensions:  “how long is your perspective? how wide is your vision? how deeply are you willing to look?”  how did you develop the idea of these three dimensions?

tony: most of us have a very narrow, superficial, short-term perspective built around avoiding pain and seeking pleasure. it’s our evolutionary inheritance. we want, above all, to survive, and reproduce, and not to be in discomfort.  awareness ” consciousness ” is an evolutionary leap, and it’s a capacity that separates us from every other species. we’re the only ones with the capacity for self-consciousness — reflection about ourselves. with that in mind, the question become “how spacious and embracing is my awareness?”

there are only so many ways to answer that. you can have a wider vision, which means more inclusive. you see your connections to others, and you’re capable of empathy.  you can also have a longer perspective, meaning the ability to see beyond your immediate needs and preoccupations. that’s possible only when you learn how to delay gratification, which is an extraordinary ability, and also the key to doing almost anything enduringly meaningful in your life.

and finally, there is depth.  most of us live at the surface, focused on the external world and how we’re managing it. depth is about interiority isn’t it? it’s about the willingness to look within, to peel away the layers, to overcome our infinite capacity for self-deception.  the whole journey really starts with depth, because depth is about working your way towards your ground, past the layers of conditioning, and reactivity, impulsivity and rationalization, defenses and blaming.  depth is what makes life rich. it frees up the ability to take a broader and a wider perspective.

isabella: below are two other quotes from your book that i found interesting.   do you have any wise words on them that you may not have been able to include in the book?

“we tolerate extraordinary disconnects in our own lives, even in areas we plainly have the power to influence”

tony: this goes back to our instinct to seek pleasure and avoid pain.  one of the shocking truths about a really satisfying life is that it necessarily involves pain ” the pain of growing, of pushing past our limits, of seeing through our delusions, illusions and premature conclusions.  when the researcher anders ericsson studied violinists at various skill levels, all the violinists agreed on one thing: practice was not only the most important single thing they could do to improve as violinists, but also the most difficult and the least enjoyable.  that helps explain why so few people achieve greatness.

“meaning and significance are a unique source of energy that ignites passion, focus and perseverance”

tony: well, meaning is a big subject, but there is a simple answer here.  when something really matters to us, we bring vastly more energy to it.  many of us spend our lives trying to please others, or live up to some external standard.  that’s not nearly as powerful a source of motivation as simply loving something for its own sake, regardless of what anyone else thinks.  i feel exactly that way about all of the ideas i’m talking about here.  it gives me joy every day of my life to engage with them, and to share them, and to believe that they have the power to improve people’s lives.

happy 2nd birthday, change therapy!

happy second birthdayooops! i totally forgot my birthday – i mean, my blog birthday. today, december 19, it’s been two years that i’ve been writing on this blog. so i decided to go back to my 1st birthday post and rewrite it, in the light of the last 366 days.

it’s been an interesting 132,000 words to write (that’s how many words i estimate have accumulated here in the last year – about 24,000 more than last year)

what was the most surprising thing? i hadn’t anticipated i would merge my web site with my blog. from a technical point of view, that was a good thing. however, the “pages” section of this site (the old static web site) still feels a bit orphaned and static.

participating in some great memes and group writing projects has been a real boon. i got to know a lot of people through them. just to name a few examples, there is priscilla palmer’s personal development blog list, the W list, InspirationBit’s group writing project on – well, inspiration, and the fabulous 6-word project at middlezonemusings.

i still haven’t run out of topics – in fact, i have more than i can handle. sometimes i wonder whether i’m too general. but what can i say, i’m actually quite happy with the range of topics. here are the topics i was thinking about discussing on my last birthday post:

there’s an entry about a cognitive psychologist who has done research on our ancestors’ thinking – how people ten thousands of years ago used their brains. a book review about the supposed inherent violence of men. thoughts on men and obesity. on the difference between faith and hope.

i did write about the first topic – still love that image of the cavewoman, isn’t it great?

and i see that i still haven’t written a review of neil boyd’s book the beast within. i should do that soon – even more than a year after reading it, the book still stands out as an important contribution to both psychology and sociology.

men and obesity? not a thing. get on it, isabella! especially since nancy asked me to write more on overeating.

difference between faith and hope? meh. doesn’t sound very interesting right now (although who knows, maybe you’ll see me eat my words next month.)

other things i might write about are sam harris’ neurology paper on “primitive” beliefs and more on these topics: what and how to eat when recovering from anorexia, on quitting smoking, creative people, and on counselling theory, especially countertransference.

last year, i said i was happy how comments and conversations had started to happen and “if i would have been a little more confrontational, they probably would have happened faster.” there was a tiny bit of confrontation here and there, on the first article on the taser death here in vancouver, for example. but really, i’m not much into confrontation.

and stats – just like last year, an article on anorexia and sex had the most page views. the post on st. augustine, darwin, plato and freud had people glued to the monitor for the longest time, and one of the understanding “i don’t know” articles had the best exit rate (i.e. people didn’t get fed up with reading my blog after reading that post). it’s also nice to report that on december 19, 2007 i had six times more traffic than on december 19, 2006!

these were the things on my wish list for the blog last year

  • have some guest columnists
  • do more memes
  • have some sort of meaningful collaboration with other bloggers
  • have more conversations through comments – my goal is to have at least as many comments as posts by the end of february

i’m happy to report that all of it happened.

for the coming year, i’d like to

  • explore the possibility of monetizing the blog
  • do at least one big group writing project
  • get that #$&(@$ do follow plugin working
  • explore more interaction with readers – more comments but also more … what? social media type interactions? let’s see.

and again i’ll ask you, readers: what would you like to see more of, less of?

… following up on InspirationBit’s suggestion, this post became part of the blogging goals group writing project on daily blog tips. here is the list of people who participated in it.

  1. making home-made wine and beer – 2008 goals for this blog
  2. 2008 plans for sk8 dad
  3. blog gigs – blogging goals for 2008
  4. my life with it – blogging goals for 2008
  5. butterfly media – 2008 blogging goals
  6. scott andrew bird – blog goals 2008
  7. objetivos do 1001 gatos para 2008
  8. 2008 goals for money and blogs
  9. kris cpec – blogging goals for 2008
  10. win a revolution theme
  11. non profit leadership, innovation and change – goals for 2008
  12. 2008 blogging goals and the rewards they earn
  13. blogging notes – blogging goals for 2008
  14. the university blog – blogging goals for 2008
  15. #comments – goals!
  16. agile business navigator – (blogging) goals for 2008
  17. goals for 2008: (almost) every blogger has some
  18. amanda – 2008 blogging goals
  19. why i never set blogging goals
  20. the genetic genealogist – my 2008 blogging goals
  21. techlife – 2008 blogging goals
  22. ooof – blogging goals
  23. zparacha – 2008 blogging goals
  24. learn how 2 earn – blog goals for 2008
  25. 2008 blogging goals win premium wordpress themes
  26. happy 2nd birthday, change therapy!
  27. not-so techie goals set for 2008
  28. jake bouma – blogging goals for 2008
  29. paasikoe – 2008 blogging goals
  30. train the trainer: 2008 goals
  31. beyond behaviors’ blogging goals for 2008
  32. fashion by jenni – blogging goals for 2008
  33. ledger pad – plan for 2008!
  34. a contest! a xontest!
  35. planet apex – 8 blogging goals for 2008
  36. a writer’s words – 2008 blogging goals? plans, maybe …
  37. romance tracker’s 2008 blogging goals
  38. global warming hub’s blogging goals for the new year
  39. setting your goals makes you 200% more productive
  40. online tech tips blogging goals for 2008
  41. concholakeaz.com blog goals
  42. inspiration just doesn’t get any better than this
  43. blog about your blog – blogging goals for 2008
  44. my 2008 blogging goals for blog contest central
  45. blogging goals – christmas letters to santa claus
  46. mixed market arts – goals for 2008
  47. have you thought of your blogging goals for 2008?
  48. vincent chow – blogging goals for 2008
  49. writing nag’s 2008 blogging goals
  50. shawnw – my blogging goals for 2008
  51. the value of being incomplete: what are your goals for 2008?
  52. on financial success – goals for the new year
  53. madhur kapoor – blogging goals for 2008
  54. work n play – 2008 blogging goals
  55. what i wish to achieve with dailyapps in 2008
  56. gimme a dream – my blogging goals for 2008
  57. new year’s resolutions for tailgatingideas.com
  58. it’s write now! – blogging resolutions for 2008!
  59. blogging: learning the lessons the hard way
  60. nazjam – my blogging goals for 2008
  61. jobmob 2008 blogging goals
  62. what will your blog look like in 2008?
  63. my 2008 goals for newest on the net
  64. misentropy – what i want my blog to be…
  65. the visitor’s book (2008)
  66. an unplannd future
  67. good bye 2007 – blogging goals for the new year
  68. life in the internet – blogging goals for 2008
  69. blogging goals for 2008 – learn from the experience!
  70. techno money – my goals for 2008…what are yours?
  71. 8 goals for inspiration bit in 2008
  72. cyber street report – 2008 blogging goals
  73. mary emma – writing and blogging goals for 2008
  74. gauravonomics – my three blogging goals for 2008
  75. ebiz parent – 2008 blogging goals
  76. alphablogs – 5 goals for 2008
  77. daily blog tips: 10 goals for 2008
  78. blogging goals for 2008