Tag Archives: Leadership

Gumption traps and how to get motivated, part 3: Coffee

Coffee is a major way I stay “motivated” (read: higher energy than a jack russel terrier). I mentioned my rampant caffeine addiction in an earlier post. It’s not the only legal recreational stimulant anymore. According to some interesting news published at Nature a lot of scientists are using some fun new substances on the prescription market.
I’m not one to pass judgment. For the time being, I’m going to stick with sleep, runs and a bit of caffeine. OK, more than a bit of caffeine. If things change, who knows. Maybe I’ll find that I need something extra and an understanding physician to make it happen.

In the mean time, I’m going to give you the run down on how to make good coffee. There’s lots of information over at the old rec.food.drink.coffee usegroup FAQs page (the wealth of info stored in the old usegroups FAQs is pretty amazing). But the long and short is this: it doesn’t matter how good your coffee is if you have a dirty coffee maker. That’s step 1. Clean your coffee maker. Once that’s done, consider your water. Step 2 is, if need to filter your water, filter your water. Don’t buy bottled water. Step 3 is to buy some decent coffee. Don’t overspend. Make sure the grind is right for your machine.

-Peter

Gumption traps and how to get motivated, part 1

Persig talks about Gumption Traps in his book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. There are lots of them, and some of them are actually really useful. Some of the obvious ones are fear and fatigue and basic bodily needs. Others are as simple as the initial barrier to action. Some are concerned with paradigm.
For this first segment I’m going to tell you what you already know: it’s easier to be motivated if you’re physically ready to be motivated. If you’re healthy, well rested and well fed, you will find it a lot easier to be motivated. Did you watch Fast Food Nation? His motivation wend steadily downhill the more unfit he got. That’s not a scientific study, but it stands to reason that if you are healthy, you will feel better about doing things.
Being well-fed is a huge issue, and no doubt we’ll get into that more as time goes by. Suffice it to say that a well balanced diet that doesn’t have a high glycimic index is probably a good place to start. I tend to go the opposite way form most Americans in that I eat too little, not too much. I get involved in a task, and I forget to eat then I feel cranky and nothing sounds good besides candy. I seldom buy candy, so then I just eat a little of something I have around to get me feeling better (cereal, beans and rice, etc.) and then repeat the whole thing. I imagine if I substituted junk food for healthy food, I would end up with too many calories and I would get fat like everyone else.
The better way to go (which I do when I’m organized) is to cook and take meals with you when you go to work or wherever. Cooking at home tends to reduce all kinds of junk food inroad into your life. Also it’s cheaper. Taking a thermos of coffee, an apple, a jar of beans and rice and a sandwich to work costs about $1. That’s enough to get me through the day. If I don’t bottom out, those foods taste pretty good. There was a great TED talk about this recently.

Speaking of coffee, I’m a huge caffeine addict. I’ll post specifically about coffee soon. But in the mean time I’ll share something interesting: I’m so addicted to caffeine, that I confuse feeling ‘thirsty’ for feeling like I need my caffeine fix. They both feel the same to me. “They” say you should drink 2 cups of water for each cup of coffee, but that’s been debunked elsewhere . If it were true, I would be a desiccated husk, as I drink a 10:1 coffee to water ratio on most days. But it does catch up with me eventually, and I need a good glass of water. Failing to do so makes me feel very tired.

More tomorrow on exercise!

-Peter

Personal interactions, management, relationships and trust – Part 1

On personal leverage:

Low-level personal interactions come down to leverage. We can get into high-level personal interactions some other time; suffice it to say that they are a function of trust.Frankly, most inter-personal relations that I see are low-trust affairs. These are not bad people, and they don’t (apparently) have a dysfunctional relationship.But there is very little trust being exhibited.So they fall back on leverage.

Leverage 1: Money.This one is widely used in the workplace, home-life and most everywhere else.It can be generalized to other commodities, like sex or a place to live.The whole idea is this:”you want something that I have, and you will only get that thing if your behavior conforms to my expectations.”

Leverage 2: Being a Jerk: Another widely used leverage point at work and at home, people will motivate other people to change their behavior by treating them poorly.”If your behavior is not what I want, I will behave toward you in a threatening and cruel way.”

Leverage 3: Violence: Although not so common in functional relationships, perhaps the oldest way to get people to do what you want is to hurt them physically. It’s what people use when there is very limited communication or extremely low trust, as between warring clans of cavemen or with small children with limited understanding.”If you don’t stop that, I will spank you,” or between so-called adults, “If you don’t think this song is the greatest song ever, I will fight you.” (Ron Burgundy)

Whole books have been written about how to avoid people who use the “Being a Jerk” mode of leverage, like The No Asshole Rule. But avoidance is not the best strategy.Violence is right out.Money is the common denominator, but it’s still a weak way to deal with people.The big upshot: there is a better way.It’s about investing in relationships, not about other peoples’ behavior.

-Peter