Newsletter: February, 1997

by Patrick Magee, author of Brain Dancing

"One test is worth a thousand expert opinions." --Bill Nye the Science Guy

Summary of this issue:

  1. Making the Most of the Internet Information Ocean
  2. Q&A on the Creative Process
  3. Stress and Adaptive Energy
  4. Cool Self-Development Articles
  5. Marketing Message
This Issues's Vitamin T (T is for Thought). Here's an excerpt:
Habit formation: A sign at the entrance of what was a very muddy road that had dried up said: "Choose your ruts wisely--you'll be in them for the next 7 miles." Choose your habits wisely.
Making the Most of the Internet Information Ocean   
You may have noticed some of the recent backlash regarding the Internet as a time waster. This reminds me of a question I once asked Anthony Robbins. "How can I silence this voice inside my head which seems to analyze everything I do as I am doing it?" He responded with something like: "Rather than eliminate a resource, it is usually much wiser to figure out a way to use it to your advantage." The Internet represents an unprecedented information resource to those who learn how to use it to their advantage. Doing this requires extreme clarity on exactly what represents "useful" information, as opposed to merely interesting.

It also helps to remember the two basic strategies discussed in Brain Dancing for interacting with any information ocean: with a specific purpose in mind (left brain), and looking for the unexpected (right brain). I point out that when looking for the unexpected (surfing), it is important to set time limits because the right brain is not aware of linear time, and there is no feedback mechanism for telling you when you are done--when the problem is solved. With the Internet, it is also necessary to set time limits when operating in left brain mode. Even with the vast quantity of information currently on the Internet, it still contains only a fraction of our total knowledge. In other words, there is no guarantee that the information you need is even on the Internet. For this reason, I believe that for many of us, the most useful information on the Internet has been, and will remain (at least for a while), information about the Internet--information that teaches how to use and create the Internet.

Q&A on the Creative Process  
I recently received an email from a country songwriter in Nashville that inspired the following response regarding his exploration of how to optimize the process of song writing:
I just heard my tape of a Paul McCartney interview done about 14 years ago. He said that when he and John decided to start the group, they sat down and wrote about 50 songs. Only one of them ever got produced: "Love Me Do". "The rest just vanished in time", he said. What struck me about this was number of songs they were willing to write experimentally. I get the impression that they had a process for writing songs that had a definite ending to it. Idea->expression->done, idea->expression->done, etc. The result was rather than endlessly tweaking a few songs, they were able to optimize this process and therefore do it successfully a large number of times. Rather than trying to write great songs immediately, the were willing to experiment: this helped them optimize the process and get feedback from others about various approaches.
They identified their core activity and then developed a system for optimizing the processes they used to carry out that core activity.

Stress and Adaptive Energy  
In his classic book, Stress Without Distress, Hans Selye, M.D., writes, "I think we have to begin by clearly realizing that work is a biological necessity." It creates stress, which brings with it the need to adapt. "..our brain slips into chaos and confusion unless we constantly use it for some work that seems worthwhile to us." Witness the American astronaut who could not even walk after spending a few months aboard the gravity free space station. Dr. Selye recommends managing the use of our adaptive energy--energy which can be used to adapt to events that have an impact on our lives. He recommends eliminating the need for frustrating constant readaptation that is the major cause of distress (harmful, unpleasant stress), by creating an environment in line with your innate preferences. Look for activities in your life that are causing an excessive drain on your adaptive energy, and consider ways of minimizing or eliminating this drain. For example, I believe that driving on freeways (especially during rush hour), requires more adaptive energy that many people realize. Designing my commutes so they can be done on back roads during non-rush hours has freed up adaptive energy for more creative use. We need stress; we need circumstances that force us to respond creatively; we don't need so many demands on this adaptive response that our overall adaptive capacity is diffused. The journey can be challenging AND fun.

Cool Self-Development Articles

The Slight Edge: , The Success System for the Rest of Us, By Jeff Olson, CEO of The Peoples Network. (no longer available)

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