How to be Happier and More Productive

This talk is amazing. We’ve got it backwards by trying to work harder in order to be happier. Neuroscience has shown that if you are happier you will work harder. You might need to watch this a few times to catch all the incredible applications, I know I will.


Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

I would like to submit to you that leaders and executives do little more than solve lots of big-hairy-complicated-messy problems and collect huge pay checks. So, if you don’t like problem solving then maybe leadership just isn’t for you. Or…………. maybe you just need to find a better way to solve your problems.

The problem with problem solving
I love to be creative and come up with answers on my own. It’s very satisfying to know that I applied my brain to a scenario and thought of the best solution all by my “big boy” self. I do this at school, at home, while driving, playing a game/sport, and just about every other conceivable situation. The only problem with doing this is that it’s a massive waste of time and energy. It’s like trying to re-invent the wheel every time a problem arises.

A better way
I’ve been realizing lately that I’m not the first person to be a husband, or a father, or a student, or……… anything for that matter (It’s been a hard realization). There are so many experts on every topic that it’s silly to think that my problems are unique to me alone. Why not consult these experts and learn about the wheels that have already been invented?

I’ve been trying to recognize and practice this concept lately with some interesting results:

1. Whenever my wife and I go to a new restaurant I feel overwhelmed by the number and variety of options on the menu. I take it upon myself to diligently research every option so that we can make informed decisions on this important edible investment. This takes up precious time and brain energy and is difficult to do before the server wants to take our order. I end up tired and stressed, while my sweet patient wife tries not to get annoyed at my anal retentiveness. Lately I’ve made an effort to change my methods and it has greatly improved our culinary experience. Now I simply ask the server what the two or three most popular dishes are and choose one. The results? My decisions are made much faster and easier, and the meals generally much tastier too. I’ve decided that it’s important to give the server and the other customers credit for having taste buds and brains even if they’re not as superior and intelligent as mine (that was joke).

2. I just saw the awesome movie Moneyball and really enjoyed it. I loved the creative problem solving that is used to re-evaluate baseball players’ relative value. I did some research and found that, interestingly, Billy Beane was not the creator of sabermetrics, nor was he the first manager to utilize sabermetric principles. In fact, his predecessor, Sandy Alderson, had been using them for three years before Beane became the general manager of the Oakland A’s. However, Beane is credited as the father of sabermetrics. He does speaking engagements all across the country, and had an awesome movie made after him (Brad Pitt’s finest work.) But all he did was take an existing and proven theory and put it to work.

So What?
The next time you have a problem to solve, first find out if it’s been solved before. Who knows, you might become a hero just by doing what’s already been done.

Scriptural support
1 Thessalonians 5:15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.

Comments: Agree or disagree? Have you ever solved a problem this way before? How did it go for you?

Why are we so QWERTY?

Business Principle

Are you familiar with QWERTY? No, I’m not talking about the inanimate character in the Veggie Tales movies (yes, I have small children); I’m talking about the standard letter distribution for 99.9% of computer keyboards. QWERTY was developed in the late 1800’s for primitive typewriters. These typewriters commonly got jammed if the typing was too fast. To remedy this problem the letter distribution was modified TO SLOW TYPISTS DOWN. This design was soon accepted into mainstream culture, even though typewriters and computers are no longer plagued by this jamming problem. Today we all use QWERTY without even thinking twice about it (look at the top left-hand corner of your keyboard and notice the Q-W-E-R-T-Y.) Did you know that there is alternative model that is faster and more productive? It’s called the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard and it was developed in 1936. In this model the most commonly used letters are more conveniently distributed. This allows for greater typing speeds and fewer repetitive strain issues like carpal tunnel syndrome. In fact, the world record holder for speed-typing clocked in at 212 words per minute using the Dvorak model. Sounds like we really missed the boat on that on right? What? You’ve never heard of any of this? That’s okay it’s not your fault. This is just an example of what happens when we blindly follow the status quo and assume that what has been done for years is the best, most effective method.

This is a common problem for businesses and leadership. We get in a routine where we do what has always been done because …… That’s the way it’s always been done. It’s important to think critically (not cynically, there’s a big difference) about everything we do. Assumptions are everywhere and they hold us back from our true potential.

Scriptural Support

These kinds of assumptions are common throughout history and have always kept us from realizing our potential. Such was the case with the “flat world” hypothesis which discouraged growth and exploration because no one wanted to fall off the edge of the Earth. The scriptures are also filled with examples of these kinds of assumptions. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament contain stories and teachings warning us against the false “traditions of men” (see Lev. 18:30, Jer. 10:3, 2Chr. 30:7, Matt. 15:3, Mark 7:8). Sometimes these assumptions led to really tragic events, like the crucifixion of a completely perfect person.

So, as an enlightened leader be on the lookout for the false assumptions of the status quo within your organization. A “QWERTY” could be anywhere and chances are it is significantly slowing you down.

Comments: Do you think this is an important concept? Have you seen any examples of a real world “QWERTY?” What kinds of things do you think fit into this category?