Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Reading faster does not hurt your comprehension

Brain Training

Brain Training

That may seem counterintuitive, but it makes sense if you just think about it for a moment. Most of your sixth-grade lack of speed is due to the three habits we discussed in Chapter 4:

* Mind Wandering
* Regression
* Subvocalization

  Reducing these three is proven to improve speed, and a lot of that increase comes from the dramatic increase in focus required to counteract those habits. You cannot use eye discipline  or any hand or card technique  mindlessly;  you must be conscious.
  Doesn't  it stand  to reason  that  the same  increased  focus  that  boosted  your speed should also help your comprehension? This is borne out in our workshops, where it's very common for our students to see comprehension  and speed rise together, up to a point. True, sometimes comprehension dips a little at first. This is because the new technique is a little uncomfortable at first, so sometimes your brain gets a little thrown off.
  Notice, however,  that I said speed and comprehension  rise together up to a point. Wherever you are in your progress, there is that line between reading and just looking. Your job is to find where that line is for you, and keep pushing it up. What we know is true, however, is that the increase in speed always precedes the increase in comprehension. So in improving your overall effectiveness as a reader, you'll be well served to temporarily let go of comprehension.  Focus on speed first, let your comprehension catch up, and settle in at a higher level; then repeat that cycle.
  To set yourself up for success, here are three smart questions to ask yourself before you read anything.

1. Why am I reading this?
2. What do I need this information for?
3. How much time do I have?

Asking  these  three  questions  before  you  read  anything  is  powerful.  The answers are nothing to get hung up on—it's the questions themselves that will supercharge  your  overall  effectiveness.  By  asking  these  questions,  you  just engage  your  brain  in  a  way  that  it's  ready  to  go—it's  warmed  up!  These questions  also add focus  and context  to what  you're  reading.  When  you add focus  and  context   to  anything,   you  will  definitely   perform   better.   Most importantly, they will prime your reticular activating system (RAS). Remember that part of your brain that makes you see the car you decided to buy? Asking yourself these questions is actually asking your brain, “What am I looking for here?” As we know from the introduction to this book, you will see what you look for, even on a level as micro as reading material.
  If the only thing you did differently with reading was to ask these questions before diving into what you read, you would have a major impact on your reading effectiveness. The real beauty is that it takes about 10 seconds to ask the questions—10 seconds really well invested.

Why and How to “Smart Read”

  The single biggest thing that will quantum leap your reading speed and comprehension is background knowledge. If you have a lot of background knowledge of what you're reading, your brain will naturally predict what's going to be said next. This allows you to fill in the gaps accurately even when moving at a high rate of speed. Background knowledge also allows you to instinctively know when you can just skim over a section or when you should really dig in, maybe even take some notes. Background  knowledge is the nuclear bomb for boosting comprehension and speed together. Nothing is more powerful.
  So how do you gain background  knowledge  about  a new piece  of reading material if you don't already have it? Learn to Smart Read!
Smart Reading  (formerly  known as “cheat  reading”)  is a simple process  of deliberately overviewing a piece of reading material before reading it. You can Smart Read any piece of nonfiction—a book like this one, a newspaper, a magazine—anything that is not a story or a work of fiction. Here's why:
  Every work of nonfiction is started with a writer's outline. The writer's outline is essentially  the skeleton of the work. The writer creates the outline of main ideas first, then fleshes it out to make it interesting. The main ideas of any work of nonfiction  are  found  in the  outline.  If you  could  read  the  writer's  outline before you read the whole chapter/article/whatever, you'd develop a ton of background knowledge about that work. You'd literally find the road map, and you'd do it in very short order.
  The good news is that you can read the outline first—it's just a little hidden! To overview a chapter or article, try this three-step process:

Step 1. Read the first paragraph. This is where you'll learn the overarching theme or purpose of the piece.
Step 2. Read the last paragraph. This usually ties the piece together or moves you on to what's next.
Step 3. Read the first sentence or two of each paragraph in between. This is where the main idea of that paragraph will be found. If you really want to be sure, you can also read the last sentence of the paragraph as a tie-down.

  That's Smart Reading in a nutshell. You'll be blown away by how much you can prime your mind for what you read by doing a Smart Read first. Here are the three best ways to use Smart Reading:

1. As a weeding tool. Often the overview will teach you everything you want or need  to know.  Maybe  you  actually  know  more  than  the  author  does, maybe you just don't need the information right now; maybe you don't need it ever. In that case you can just skip the whole thing before you even get started. What a relief!
2. As an overview. Assuming that you do want to continue after your Smart Read overview, you now know all the main ideas you'll be learning. You've jacked up your background knowledge and gotten your brain ready to absorb at a very high level.
3. As a review. Even after you've read something, you may want to go back to it and review or refresh your memory. Maybe you're prepping for a test, maybe you want to fold the material into a presentation, and so on. A quick overview is just the ticket to bring it back to your mind.

  So when you add up what you've learned in this section, you've got a very powerful way of both priming your brain to see what you need it to see and then giving it the road map for what you're about to read. When you combine the three  Reading  Smart  questions  with  a Smart  Read  overview  of your reading material, you'll be amazed at just how quickly you can digest information, with the highest levels of comprehension.
  If you haven't  done so already,  I'd recommend  that before each subsequent chapter in Train Your Brain For Success you ask the questions and then Smart Read it before diving in. You'll absorb more and internalize more quickly.

First off, let's clear up a myth: reading faster does not hurt your comprehension. Many of our students struggle with the misconception  that if they read faster, they won't understand what they're reading. I understand how it feels this way, and there are times when you do want to be methodical in your approach. Remember  the concept  of gears? In specific  instances  where you are reading material that is very heavy, perhaps very technical, or about something that you have little background knowledge of, then a slower pace can be very helpful. But the blanket assumption that faster always means less gets in is false. In fact, the opposite is true: Comprehension increases with speed.

Read more > Reading faster does not hurt your comprehension

Excuse Me

Excuse Me

Excuse Me

"Both novice and experienced workers will find a wealth of business etiquette in a book that, instead of excusing bad behavior, could help prevent it from happening in the first place." -Foreword Reviews, 5 Star Review In today's workplace, good manners matter more than ever. Blending different generations, genders, and cultures brings energy and fresh perspectives to the workplace. But the flip side is an environment ripe for confusion and social blunders. Mix in increasingly open-plan workplaces and constant connectivity, and the chance that we'll unintentionally annoy or offend others increases exponentially. Exactly what are the rules these days? Is it acceptable to text your boss at home? What is the polite way to ask a colleague to take a distracting conversation behind closed doors? What about the use of smartphones in meetings? Merging classic rules of behavior with new realities of modern business, Excuse Me spotlights dozens of puzzling situations, with suggestions for bridging divides. The book untangles the nuances of: Meeting etiquette * Interview expectations * Proper office attire * Electronic manners * Privacy in tight spaces * Eye contact and nonverbal cues * Small talk * Business dining * Social media use * Working remotely and flexibly * And more. While the youngest employees might seem unruly, the oldest can seem rigid. Good manners create an atmosphere of respect, and smooth the way for everyone to succeed.


Sample Pages

 Jane, an administrator at well-respected Bay Farm Hospital, had been looking forward to this year’s healthcare conference. Many of her colleagues will be there, and she’ll have a chance to network with peers from the world’s leading hospitals. The luncheon is an open-seating buffet, and Jane sees Phil, who she knows casually from her hospital, at a table with a free spot. She asks if she can join him and the four other men at the table. Phil nods, quickly introduces Jane, and then continues to regale the group with the very “blue” sexist joke he is telling.
  As Phil reaches the end of his joke, he inserts Jane’s name in the punch line. Phil, laughing loud and proud of how clever he is, at first does not realize no one is laughing with him. When he finally notices the embarrassed looks on the other men’s faces and the horror on Jane’s face, he tries in vain to salvage the situation. With a forced laugh, he announces to the table, “Way to ruin a punchline, Jane!”
  The foundation of civility is respect, which is the outward expression of esteem or deference. This is the foundational requirement and, without that, no other behaviors ring true. Respect extends to peoples’ privacy, physical space, property, viewpoints, philosophies, religion, gender, ethnicity, physical abilities, background, age, beliefs, and personality. Respect and disrespect can be shown by language, gestures, and actions.
  Respect is what employees say they want most from their employers and coworkers: respect for their experience, education, intelligence, skill, creativity, hard work, dedication, and the results they produce. Yet respect is what employees say they get least.
  Employees, management, and organizations at large are characterized by the behaviors they exhibit and allow. Disrespectful behavior runs the gamut from neglecting basic civilities and  outright rudeness to discrimination and bullying. Throughout managements’ ranks, disrespect manifests itself with favoritism, subtle pressure, condoning damaging behavior or speech, neglecting to follow up on complaints of harassment or bullying, and criticizing or firing employees who voice concerns. Organizations that engage in illegal or unethical activities, such as deceptive business practices, embezzlement, and predatory pricing, and the cultures such activities create, also contribute to this problem.
  It’s not enough to say an organization values respect and civility. The boss who preaches the importance of respectful listening without practicing it is better off saying nothing at all. Dr. Todd  Whitaker and Dr. Steve Gruenert, professors of educational leadership at Indiana State University and authors of the book School Culture Rewired, say, “The culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate.”2 It stands to reason that a culture would also be shaped by the best behavior a leader is willing to model.
  An incredible 80 percent of employees believe they get no respect at work, and a whopping 95 percent report they have experienced or witnessed disrespect in the workplace,3 according to Christine Pearson and Christine Porath, authors of the book The Cost of Bad Behavior. Mike Miles, head of social strategy for online retailer SmartSign, said in his article “Work- place Bullying Costs Companies Billions, Wrecks Victims’ Health” that the price tag to the U.S. economy for all of this bad behavior is an estimated “360 billion annually due to turnover and decreased work productivity.”
  Disrespect also comes in subtle forms through microaggres- sion. Dr. Derald  Wing Sue, Ph.D., professor of counseling psychology at Columbia University, defines microaggressions as “the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile,  derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.”5 Ref lecting unconscious bias, a microaggression can be a “compliment” to an African American colleag ue on how articulate he is or a remark to a female executive on how impressively she balances work and family responsibilities.
  Workplace disrespect affects employees’ morale, engagement, productivity, and health. It also negatively affects coworkers who witness it, causing  them  stress  and job insecurity. It becomes contagious, creating a greater likelihood of rudeness throughout the employee population. Disrespected employees are more  likely to leave jobs, increasing their companies’ severance and benefits pay, recruiting, hiring, and training costs, and potentially, legal fees. As Dr. Robert J. Cuomo, Ph.D., dean and professor of business at Dean College, said, “People don’t leave jobs. People leave people.” Disrespect ruins companies’ reputations, loses customers, and eats up managers’ valuable time.
  The benefits to companies that establish genuinely respectful cultures are enormous, including everything from  greater productivity and increased bottom lines to happy shareholders.
  The enhanced reputation of a respectful organization means it is able to hire and retain the best and brightest, resulting in a distinct competitive advantage. Teamwork, trust, and creative problem solving are also fostered, and employees realize greater job satisfaction, self-respect, and even enhanced earning potential.
  Employers must enforce a zero-tolerance policy in order to realize the benefits of a respectful culture. The law now protects victims of the most egregious forms of disrespectful behavior, but how much better it would be not to need to rely upon the law for enforcement. Management can educate employees on the company’s Code of Respect and invest in civility training to make sure all employees understand the policy.
  Employers need to look closely at their hiring practices. Carefully watching for behavioral clues during the interview process and not hiring candidates with red f lags is easier, faster, and less costly than dealing with them after they are hired. The candidate who casts blame on a former employer, exhibits disrespectful body language, or comes across as arrogant during the interview can be expected to display the same or worse behavior once hired. Employers can hire for “attitude over experience” as the Four Seasons does, or heed the call of Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, for civilit y and  values-based leadership. They can emulate the practices of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” and view corporate culture as their greatest tool.
  Employees, on the other hand, need to know bosses mean what they say. Management should encourage the reporting of disrespectful behavior without fear of consequences. This can be achieved through anonymous 360-degree reviews or by identifying an HR representative or independent workplace consultant to whom employees can make confidential reports. And if disrespect is reported, management must confront it specifically and immediately and take appropriate action.
Companies  can  reward good behavior with positive reinforcement. At Zappos, employees who show exemplary behavior can earn “Zollars” (Zappos dollars) and peer-to-peer “Wow” awards from their coworkers. Anything from holding a door open, to smiling, volunteering, or cleaning a common area might qualify someone for a $50 reward. Regularly scheduled employee recognition luncheons, holiday parties, and summer outings that bring together various employee populations can do wonders to build trust. Bosses can also publicly recognize and value employees for their ideas and accomplishments and reward initiative and creativity.
  Most important, bosses must consistently model the behavior they want to see in their employees. Smart bosses recognize that treating employees with respect is critical to attracting and retaining workers. They also realize that what happens at work does not stay at work. Sites like, which has a database of more than 8 million company reviews, enable job seekers to evaluate rankings of companies’ cultures and values before deciding whether or not to join their ranks. At such sites, salary and benefits reports, CEO rankings, interview questions, and insights into what it’s really like to work at a company are all at a job seeker’s fingertips.
  Employees also need  to do their part,  beginning with becoming aware of any unconscious biases they may harbor. Recently,  I had a personal experience with the concept of unconscious bias. While walking home through the Boston Common from the gym early one morning, I heard a voice say, “Hey, lady, you don’t have to be afraid.” Lost in thought, it took me a second to realize the person was talking to me. I stopped and walked toward two African American men sitting on a bench. I said I was not afraid and asked them why I would be. One man said, “When you saw us, you walked to the other side of the sidewalk.” I assured him I did not; he assured me I did. What ensued was a remarkable 15-minute conversation about the concept of unconscious bias. We exchanged names and parted as new friends, promising to pick up our conversation if our paths crossed again. In continuing to think about what happened, I know for sure I was unaware of any bias. But did I cross to the other side of the walkway? I simply do not know. This question, and its lesson, have stayed with me.
  Employees can embrace everyone’s uniqueness and extend simple common courtesies such as listening attentively and valuing others’ opinions. While not always easy, they can also challenge disrespect when they experience or witness it. When you witness what you think is disrespectful or exclusionary behavior, it is important to assess the situation to make sure you are reading it correctly. Once you are certain, it’s time to take action. Depending on the seriousness of the situation, you could try to diffuse it with humor by saying something like, “Don’t hold back. Tell us how you really feel!” Such an approach might get an interaction back on a respectful track. If this does not work, you’ll need to be more direct. You could say, “Something seems to be bothering you. What is it?”
  To improve a relationship, you could say, “I want us to work well together. How can we do that?” If someone interrupts you, you could say, “Hold on . . . I’d like to make my point.” If someone displays aggressive body language, you could say, “You look upset. What’s wrong?” If someone uses inappropriate language, you could say, “Can we rein in this discussion? We’re at work.” If someone is spreading gossip, you could say, “I was surprised to hear you said (something) about me. Is that true?” And if someone is blatantly rude, you could say, “You may not realize how negative that sounds.” Sometimes none of these work, in which case it’s time to get management or HR involved.
  Once the personal and institutional groundwork for showing respect has been laid, we are ready to consider what respect means to the various populations of today’s workplace.

Respect for Experience

  Bill takes a deep breath and braces himself for today’s weekly staff meeting. Sixty-five years old, Bill is a workplace survivor. He has lasted 42 years with the same large bank and has had nine different bosses and seven different jobs in four different locations. He has assiduously played the political game, always keeping his head down. Bill has risen through the ranks to management and enjoys a comfortable salary.
  Bill knows the workplace has changed dramatically and has tried, as much as possible, to keep up. Despite his best efforts, he still cannot seem to connect with his much younger staff. At last week’s meeting, Bill rolled out a new marketing plan that Josh, the new hire, immediately questioned before offering a “much better idea.” Drew asked for feedback on a project but seemed put off by Bill’s constructive suggestions. Colin, three months on the job, asked Bill, again, when he would be promoted. Gina said she hadn’t prepared a report for the meeting because she doesn’t listen to voicemail or read email, and in the future, would Bill please text her.
  Bill has tried very hard to stay current. He’s taken Salesforce and database management training and mastered Excel. He’s up to speed on social media and active on LinkedIn. He knows he has a lot of experience to share, but somehow his staff treats him like a “has been,” as though he should just retire. But with a couple of kids still in college, that is not an option for Bill. So he squares his shoulders and enters the meeting room. He will continue to try and relate to his staff as well as he can—he has to.
  Millennials are the fastest growing, most sought-after demographic in the workplace. By 2020, there will be 86 million millennials in the workplace, representing 40 percent of the total working population.6  Should a new business etiquette playbook be designed exclusively with them in mind?
  The simple answer is no. Millennials, born roughly between 1981 and 2000, are still outnumbered by traditionalists, baby boomers, and Generation Xers combined. And these folks are still largely in charge. According to, the median age of an S&P 500 CEO is 55.7 Warren Buffet and J. Willard Marriott, Jr., are in their 80s and 90s, with countless lesser known CEOs in their 70s and 60s. The U.S. retirement age is also going up. A 2014 Gallup survey reports that the average age at which non-retired Americans expect to retire is 66,8 the highest age Gallup has found since first asking the question in 1991. What’s needed is a new playbook for respect that ack- nowledges the perspectives and values of all ages, not the least of whom are those still making the hiring decisions and signing the paychecks.
  The current four generations in the workplace come from distinctly different social, political, and business times  in history. Their perspectives evolved as they were exposed to people, places, and ideas, but were still largely informed by the prevailing social mores of their formative years. The great disruptor, digital technology, has only widened the gap. While opinions differ on their precise characteristics and birth years, the following represents generally held views of the generations.


  Born before 1946, traditionalists joined a work world where women were primarily in support roles and social behavior was the template for business behavior. Men traditionally showed respect to women by doffing their hats, holding doors open, pulling out chairs, paying bills, and refraining from vulgar speech. The f lip side of the coin was a kind of Mad Men approach to women, job and wage discrimination, and bias along lines of race, religion, class, age, marital status, and sexual orientation. Traditionalists are respectful of seniority and rank and are loyal, disciplined, and self-sacrificing. Tech- nolog y for this cohort consisted of a radio, a rotary telephone, and a television.

Baby Boomers

  Born between 1946 and 1964, baby boomers came of age between the mid 60s and the early 80s. They witnessed or participated in the civil rights movement. The Equal Opportunity Act of 1972 was enacted when the first of the boomers were in their 20s. By
1986, when the last of the boomers had entered the workplace, more than half of college graduates were women taking their places beside men in traditionally male-dominated fields such as law, medicine, and business. Acceptable behavior on the job was changing dramatically. It was no longer considered appropriate to focus on gender rather than ability. Boomers, while less respectful of rank, still believe in corporate hierarchy and strive to climb the corporate ladder. Touch-tone telephones were one of the technological innovations of their time.

Generation X

Born between 1965 and 1980, Generation X entered the workplace in the mid 80s. The Civil Rights Act (1991) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) were both enacted while they were in their 20s. Astronauts Sally Ride, a woman, and Guion Bluford, an African American man, broke ground by going to space during this time. Members of Gen X were the first to have two parents work outside of the home in great numbers. They also saw many of those parents lose their jobs. As a result, this generation does not have the same respect for job titles or rank, nor do they believe in job security. Known for being distrustful, self-reliant, and tech-savvy, Gen Xers are protective of family time and value work-life balance. They were the first to experience mobile technology.

Generation Y/Millennials

  Born between 1981 and 2000, Gen Y/millennials do not remember a time before mobile devices. Entrepreneurial and tech-savvy, they have fostered relationships with people all over the world through social media. Laws enacted as this generation grew up and came of age included the Family and Medical Leave Act in
1993, same-sex marriage in Massachusetts in 2004, and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009. Millennials value diversity and social responsibility and are known for being especially close to their parents. They’d like to make more money, but seem less concerned about that than about making a difference.

Respecting Age Difference

The need and desire for respect, appreciation, and acceptance cut across generational divides. By taking the time to learn about other generations, we can begin to embrace rather than judge or discount others’ experiences and points of view and realize the vast personal and professional benefits that accrue to us in doing so. Younger generations can also keep in mind that if they’re lucky, one day they will be part of the older generation and that karma—good or bad—may await them!

Respect for Diversity

  Ginny didn’t sleep well last night. New to her job as an event planner, she is due to meet with her boss today and needs to steel herself to discuss  the evaluations from last week’s annual clients’ conference in New York.
  Ginny knew from the initial tepid response that attendance would be low. But she had not anticipated so many complaints from those who did attend about everything—the food, the venue, the transportation, the speakers—virtually the entire conference had been panned. She realizes in hindsight that if she had  put  a little  more  thought and research into  the conference, she would have saved herself a lot of trouble.
  She had been pleased to find a great rate, within her budget, at a fabulous hotel for the last week in March, but she completely failed to anticipate that Passover and Easter, coinciding this year, would affect turnout. She thought she’d covered her bases with food by offering two menu selections: a vegetarian and beef option. It had not occurred to her to request that vegan and kosher meals also be available. She had made sure that the entrance to the venue was accessible but did not think to see if there were some low cocktail tables or if the coach she’d hired was  accessible for people with disabilities. She thought the speakers she had invited represented an interesting mix of experience, but it had not occurred to her that they were all middle-aged white men.
  Ginny prepared for the likelihood that the meeting with her boss would be as much of a disaster as the conference had been. Now she was wondering if this first meeting would be her last.

Read more > Excuse Me

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Crowdfunding with Bitcoin

Bitcoin For Dummies

Bitcoin For Dummies

Rather than relying on one  investor, or one  major source of funding, a crowdfunding campaign allows you  to decentralize the funding process by  acquiring backers and  supporters to provide money up front. By  accepting bitcoin as  a payment method for your campaign, you can  decentralize things even  further and  reach a global audience.

Bitcoin provides businesses and  individuals with a powerful tool to raise funds for an upcoming or existing project. Considering the fact that  bitcoin is not  taxable in most countries, many people view it as  a safe  haven for “tax‐free” funding.

When  you  convert the  raised funds to fiat currency, you  may be taxed on them, depending on the  amount you  receive.

When  crowdfunding, never list  a fake project or claim to do some- thing  with the  money you  never intend to fulfill.  Even though bitcoin is a non‐reversible payment method, people will  hunt you down if you  try  to run  off with their money.

Luckily for bitcoin enthusiasts, most crowdfunding projects so  far have been  legitimate, and  most have delivered on their promises as well.  Depending on what type  of project you  list, it may take additional time  to reach your goals, especially if it involves block- chain technology development.

But  not  every project is using crowdfunding platforms for the  right reasons. Some  people view crowdfunding as  a way to get some funds quickly, without ever having to pay  it back. Even though most platforms implement security against misuse, there is always a minor chance of a project not  delivering on the  promises made. But  that  has nothing to do with bitcoin per  se  — it can  happen with any type  of crowdfunding campaign. Simply look  at how many people backed projects in Kickstarter and  never received the  item  for which they pledged a certain amount. Check out for more.

Whenever you  help  crowdfund a bitcoin project, always determine whether you  are  entitled to some form  of reward. Crowdfunding is not  the  same as  buying a share of a company or product at a cheaper rate.  It simply means you’re willing to spend money in order to make  someone’s dream come true, which may or may not include a reward. However, you  should not  partake in a crowd- funding campaign just for the  reward. That’s not  why this system was invented in the  first place.

Source: Bitcoin For Dummies

A short history of bitcoin mining

Bitcoin For Dummies

Bitcoin For Dummies

Over the  years, bitcoin mining has seen a tremendous evolution in terms of the  required hardware to mine  bitcoins. Very little  hardware was required when bitcoin launched in 2009, as  there was little  to no interest in the  project. But  as  more and  more people caught wind of bitcoin and  joined the  network, the  computational power increased exponentially. The mining difficulty  parameter (which determines how much computation power is required to solve the  mathematical equations associated with generating bitcoins) adjusted accordingly, in order to make  sure new  blocks on the  bitcoin network were  still ten minutes apart. The reason for keeping bitcoin blocks ten minutes apart is to collect as  many broadcasted bitcoin transactions into  one  block and  validate these transactions at the  same time.

In 2009, the  first versions of the  bitcoin client had  a built‐in process that  would let anyone running the  software mine  bitcoin with their computer’s central processing unit  (CPU) — the  main proces- sor in a computer. Because every computer has a CPU,  and  only a handful of people were  mining bitcoins at that  time,  there was very little  competition. In fact,  most of the  coins in the  first few months were  mined by  Satoshi Nakamoto, who also gave  away some coins to other people in order to allow testing of the  bitcoin network.

It didn’t take  long  for one  of the  miners to figure  out  that  the mining feature could be adapted to use  a graphics processing unit  (GPU), rather than just a CPU.  Because a GPU — also called a video card — is specifically designed to solve complex mathematical  tasks, it is able  to mine  bitcoin more efficiently than a CPU. However, that  performance is offset  by  a large  increase in electric- ity  use, as  GPUs  draw a lot more power from  the  wall  compared to CPUs. This change was the  first chapter in a long  and  storied bitcoin mining arms race.                                          

Developers and  engineers started tinkering around with the  idea of creating a new  piece  of hardware that  mined much faster and more efficiently than GPUs  and  CPUs. Field  Programmable  Gate Arrays (FPGAs) saw the  light  of day  a few years ago, and  they out- performed CPU mining by  quite a margin. Furthermore, any FPGA could mine  nearly as  fast  as  a GPU available at that  time  — while using far less electricity to complete the  task of mining bitcoins.

When  reading up on bitcoin mining these days, one  term  people often  come across is ASIC, which stands for application‐specific integrated  circuit.  This is a microchip designed specifically to mine bitcoin. The first bitcoin ASICs started hitting the  street in early 2013, and  they outperformed GPU and  FPGA  mining by  such a margin that  miners scrambled to get their hands on one  of these shiny machines. But  ASICs have a major downside as  well:  They are  very power hungry, they make  a lot of noise, and  they generate a ton  of heat.  On the  flipside, a bitcoin ASIC  miner is vastly superior to any other type  of hardware in existence today and  remains quite costly in some cases.

As  these new  devices started popping up,  the  need  for electricity increased exponentially. As  a result, mining bitcoins is extremely unprofitable in most parts of the  world, unless you  have access to cheap or free electricity. In most cases, the  investment cost of bitcoin hardware, combined with the  electricity costs, make  it impossible to make  a profit by  mining at home. But  there is a solution  to that  problem: Bitcoin cloud  mining lets  you  mine  bitcoin by purchasing mining power from  a machine hosted in a different part of the  world.

Cloud mining has become somewhat popular in recent years. It allows you  to mine  without needing to buy and/or host the  hard- ware yourself. Most  bitcoin cloud mining providers charge a daily or monthly fee to cover electricity costs. Cloud mining allows a user to start earning money directly, rather than waiting on the delivery of some fancy machine. Chapter 11 talks more about cloud mining.

In the  future, as  with all computer advancements, microchips will be made  smaller without sacrificing computational power. And  with smaller chips, more of them can  be fitted  onto  a board, increasing the  machine’s overall mining power. Engineers are trying to reduce the  energy use  of these microchips too.  Making mining more energy efficient could lead  to more profitability in additional parts of the  world.

Source: Bitcoin For Dummies

How to Crowdfund

How to Crowdfund

How to Crowdfund

Much as with grant writing, you will need to step out of your comfortable researcher mindset if you wish to pursue crowdfunding. You will need to learn another set of skills: marketing.

Crowdfunding is a lot more liberating than grant writing. There are no rules you need to play by, no formats you need to adhere to, and no abstracts or methodologies. While this freedom sounds agreeable, it is surprisingly not your ally. Without a structure to guide you, it is easy to lose yourself in the blank canvas of your inexperience.

It is a misconception that crowdfunding is easy. Asking a crowd for money is easy. It’s as simple as writing a short statement and putting it online. Getting money from that crowd, however, is a whole other matter. Have you done basic market research? What is your value proposition? What platforms are you including in your social media strategy? Have you scheduled posts? What does your public interaction timeline look like? Do you understand the italic words in the last five sentences? As with all new experiences, your first crowdfunding campaign will be a challenge. Are you feeling that the challenge is not worth the reward? You shouldn’t. Even if your first attempt fails, the concepts and skills you will pick up along this journey are the foundations of effective communication skills.

We won’t go into the full details of how to set up, write for, and maintain interest in your crowdfunded project - entire books and guides have been written on the subject. We will, however, give you a quick overview of the key steps you should take, some best practices, and an idea of what exactly is required of you. This will allow you to determine if crowdfunding is an avenue you wish to pur sue or not.

For ease of reading, we will break down the crowdfunding process into three major stages: the precampaign tasks you need to complete before launching your funding call, the activities to be completed during the campaign itself, and the post-campaign follow-up.

STAGE 1: Pre-Campaign

Step 1: Title

Compared to a scientific paper, a grant title should contain less scientific jargon. For the purposes of crowdfunding, this rule is taken to its extreme: no jargon is allowed whatsoever. An easy way to judge the appropriateness of a crowd- funding title is to imagine it within the pages of a magazine. Two titles seen on “Sydney Harbouring unknown coral treasures” and “Mathematical model to reduce maternal and infant mortality in Southeast Asia” are appropriate titles. “Sublethal effects of radioactive surface contaminated objects (SCOs) on mammals and ecological interactions” is less so. As with grant titles, try to encapsulate your main research question as concisely as possible.

Step 2: Abstract

A good crowdfunding abstract is extremely short, to the order of 4–7 sentences. It should follow the following simple structure:

Establish the background/problem (1–2 sentences)

Research question (1 sentence)

Objective(s) (1–2 sentences)

Significance (1–2 sentences)

Remember, a crowdfunding campaign is generally geared at generating preliminary data on a minimal budget for a larger project. If you find that you have too many research questions or objectives to fit into one sentence, you are possibly over-promising, and should consider reducing the scope of your project.

Read more >  How to Crowdfund

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Tools: Transform Your Problems into Courage, Confidence, and Creativity

The Tools

The Tools

Listen! Writers! Remember that New Yorker profile from about a year ago - about the two Hollywood therapists who had developed strategies, yes, tools, tools that screenwriters and television writers could use over and over for defeating writer’s block? Well, now they have a book out. Only, maybe it’s the wrong book. Depends.

But listen! Writers! This book, “The Tools: Transform Your Problems Into Courage, Confidence, and Creativity,” despite that word “creativity” looming out there like your childhood bully, has precisely four mentions of writers in it. Four. The cop who longs to write stories instead of just telling them at his bar (known as regaling, in professional bar lore). The successful screenwriter who freezes and just wants to revert to her lost, kid-writer place where she “loved to write for its own sake.” And two more.

The therapists, Phil Stutz and Barry Michels, have obviously had some success with these types. When that article came out writers were asking other writers, “Did you read it?” It generated what the authors call a Grateful Flow. (Yes. One of the Tools.) Because, if someone had found — well, a cure would sound too eager and sweaty, but a method for handling writer’s block and writers’ insecurities, which is pretty much the whole catastrophe, well, where do we all sign up? We professionals, we wannabes, fried-outs, come­backers, coo-coos, dream-jobbers. Us.

Listen! There was a market for that book. The one they didn’t do. It could have joined the rare essential works on the screenwriter’s shelf — alongside Joseph Campbell (I said essential, not untainted), Robert McKee’s “Story” and Twyla Tharp’s “Creative Habit.” But Stutz and Michels instead chose to use their new public pulpit to sell the book they had been developing for years — one boiling over with universal tactics to get us off the dirty dime of our stalled lives that just might, who knows, help out lots more lumbering souls than some schlub stumped on his Act II B-plot crisis procrastinating by doing fake research, reading gun magazines.

Now, these Tools all come with explainy labeled diagrams like “Freedom to Go On With Life” and “Trapped in the Past” that recall editorial cartoons in which the A‑bomb had a nasty puss and “U.S. Fears” written on it. But though the book is organized torpidly, the Tools themselves retain a fascination, in part because you’re never sure if you’ll turn the page and Stutz and Michels will go into some full-bore flip-out. Their tool “Reversal of Desire” (essentially, not fleeing fear but confronting it — even a phone call in which someone might reject you romantically in ways you will still be replaying 80, 90 years later) is presented thus: “See the pain appear in front of you as a cloud. Scream silently at the cloud, ‘BRING IT ON!’ ” Then, “Scream silently, ‘I LOVE PAIN!’ ” — no offense, but Edvard Munch has a lot to answer for. Then, after the cloud engulfs you, it will spit you out and, “As you leave the cloud, feel yourself propelled forward into a realm of pure light.”

Sadly, years of immersion in the cloud of popular culture have trained me never ever ever to head for the light, which will prematurely reunite me with Gramps, who’ll tell me I still have wrists like a girl. But happily, the tool “Inner Authority” teaches me how to confront Gramps and other tormentors (like Gramps, for example; no, mentioned him) while teamed up with my Shadow. The Shadow, a concept repurposed from Jung, is a self living inside us that is “everything we don’t want to be but fear we are,” whom we must visualize and corporealize. Loyal failure-­self, whom we remember from seventh-­period gym, now bonds with us as together we address an imaginary audience “and silently command them to ‘LISTEN!’ ”

Rod Serling was a friend of Michels’s parents, which may explain why the docs’ more magical theorizing and their proselytizing “new spirituality” reads simultaneously like a lost episode of “The Twilight Zone” and a desire to serve mankind. That Serling factoid is found only in the New Yorker article, by the way, not in the tamer book, which forgets that books like this (already a best seller) thrive less on their ideas than on the complex personalization of the mentors. Stutz’s father used to invoke bankruptcies to him — “Could you make do with only one pair of pants?” By 12 he was basically Dad’s therapist. But Michels, a child of atheists who says “faith was my family’s ‘f-word,’ ” had potential to drive the narrative harder, too.

They get little help from their yuppified case histories, like the woman who can’t enjoy her spotless new kitchen because her husband keeps grubbing it up making late-night snacks. Their patients resemble under-40 climbers for whom an off-­season frozen Mallomar is never enough. An exception is Vinny, a talented but grandiose stand-up comic, whose self-­destructive story gives the book a structure. The Tools save him from the brink, he rises, quits therapy and falls, finally uses the “Jeopardy” tool (in which your deathbed-self screams at you “not to waste the present moment”). “My God!” Vinny visualizes on his road to redemption. “I’m living in my mother’s house!”

Stutz and Michels write, “Now, instead of using humor as a weapon in a war against humanity, he gave it as a gift to make others happy — which made him happy.” I would submit that they have arrived at precisely the wrong conclusion because of their misguided animosity toward negativity, judgments, hopelessness, complaining. Too much humorless positivity erodes this adventurous but narrow book. The romance of hate drives comedy. It brings to mind the sulfurously brilliant Don Rickles performing. Then moments later, snuffling on Johnny Carson’s couch to show what a likable soul he really was. That couch was Don’s Shadow, not the other way around.


>>>>> Sample Pages <<<<<

Revelation of a New  Way

ROBERTA WAS A NEW PSYCHOTHERAPY PATIENT who  made me  feel completely ineffective within  fifteen minutes  of  meeting her.   She  had come  to me with a very  specific  goal:  she wanted to stop obsessing about the idea   that her   boyfriend  was   cheating  on  her.   “I  go  through  his messages, grill  him  with questions; sometimes I even  drive  by  his  place to spy  on  him.  I never find  anything but I can’t  stop myself.” I thought her   problem  was   easily   explained  by   the  fact  that  her   father  had abruptly deserted the family   when she  was  a  child. Even  now,  in  her mid-twenties,  she   was   still  terrified  of  abandonment.   But  before  we could  delve  into that issue  more  deeply, she  looked me  in  the eye  and demanded, “Tell me  how  I can  stop obsessing. Don’t waste my time and money on why I’m insecure—I already know.”
If Roberta came  to see me  today, I’d be thrilled that she  knew  exactly
what she wanted, and  I’d know  exactly how  to help  her.  But my meeting with  her    took   place    twenty-five   years    ago    when  I   was    a   new psychotherapist. I felt the directness of her  request shoot through me like an arrow. I had  no response.
I  didn’t  blame myself.   I  had   just spent  two years   devouring every current theory  of psychotherapeutic practice. But the more  information I digested, the  more  unsatisfied I became.  The theories felt removed from the   actual   experience  someone   would   have   when   he  or  she  was  in trouble and needed  help.  I felt in my gut that  I hadn’t been taught a way to respond directly  to what  a patient like Roberta  was asking for.
I wondered, Maybe  I can’t  pick  up this  ability  from  a book;  maybe  it can  be  learned only  in  face-to-face   consultation with  someone   who’d been  in the trenches. I had  developed close ties to two of my supervisors - not  only  did  they   know   me  well,  but  they   had   many   decades   of clinical  experience. Surely,  they  must  have  developed some way to meet these requests.
I described Roberta’s demand to them. Their  response confirmed my worst fears.   They  had   no  solution. Worse,   what seemed to me  like  a reasonable request, they saw  as part of her  problem. They  used  a lot of clinical   terms:   Roberta   was    “impulsive,”   “resistant,”   and    “craved immediate gratification.” If I tried to meet her  immediate needs, they warned me, she would actually become more  demanding.
Unanimously, they advised me  to guide  her  back  to her  childhood— there we  would find  what caused the obsession in the first place. I told them she already knew  why  she was obsessed. Their  answer was that her father’s abandonment couldn’t be the real reason. “You have  to go even deeper into her  childhood.” I was fed up with this runaround: I’d heard it before—every time a patient made a direct request, the therapist would turn it back  on  the patient and  tell him  or  her  to “go  deeper.” It was  a shell  game  they used  to hide  the truth: when it came  to immediate help, these therapists had  very  little to give  to their patients. Not only  was  I disappointed,  I   had    the  sinking  feeling    that  my   supervisors  were speaking for the entire psychotherapeutic profession—certainly I’d never heard anyone say anything else. I didn’t know  where to turn.
Then  I got lucky.  A friend told me  he’d met a psychiatrist who  didn’t accept the system any  more  than I did.  “This  guy  actually answers your questions—and I guarantee you’ve  never heard these answers before.” He was  giving  a series  of seminars, and  I decided to go to the next one. That was where I met Dr. Phil Stutz, the coauthor of this book.
That seminar changed my practice—and my life.
Everything about the way  Phil  thought seemed completely new.  More important,   in    my    gut   it   felt  like    the   truth.   He   was    the   first psychotherapist  I’d  met   whose   focus   was   on   the   solution,  not   the problem.  He  was  absolutely  confident  that   human  beings   possessed untapped forces that  allowed  them  to solve their  own  problems. In fact, his view of problems was the opposite of what  I’d been taught. He didn’t see them  as handicapping the  patient; he  saw  them  as opportunities to enter  this world  of untapped potential.
I  was   skeptical  at   first.   I’d   heard    about    turning  problems  into opportunities before,  but  no  one  had  ever  explained exactly  how  to  do this.   Phil  made   it  clear   and   concrete.  You  had   to  tap   into   hidden resources  by  means   of  certain  powerful  but   simple   techniques  that
anyone could  use.
He called these techniques “tools.”
I walked out of that seminar so excited, I felt like I could  fly. It wasn’t just that there were  actual tools that could  help  people; it was something about Phil’s  attitude. He  was  laying himself, his  theories, and  his  tools out in  the open.  He  didn’t  demand that we  accept what he  was  telling us;  the only  thing he  insisted on  was  that we  actually use  his  tools and come  to our  own  conclusions about what they could  do. He almost dared us  to prove  him  wrong. He  struck me  as  very  brave or  mad—possibly both. But in any  case,  the effect on me  was  catalyzing, like  bursting out into the fresh  air  after the suffocating dogma of  my  more   traditional colleagues. I saw even  more  clearly how  much they hid behind an impenetrable wall  of convoluted ideas, none  of which they felt the need to test or experience for themselves.
I had  learned only  one  tool at the seminar, but as  soon  as  I left,  I practiced it religiously. I couldn’t wait to give it to Roberta. I was  sure  it would help   her  more   than  delving deeper into her  past. In  our  next session, I said,  “Here’s something you  can  do  the moment you  start to obsess,” and  I gave  her  the tool (I’ll present it later). To my amazement, she  seized   on  it and  started using  it immediately. More  amazingly, it helped. My colleagues had  been  wrong. Giving  Roberta something that provided   immediate   help    didn’t   make    her    more    demanding   and immature; it inspired her  to become an active, enthusiastic participant in her  own  therapy.
I’d  gone   from   feeling   useless   to  having a  very   positive impact  on someone in a very  short time. I found  myself  hungering for more—more information, more  tools; a  deeper understanding of  how  they worked. Was  this   just  a  grab   bag  of  different  techniques,  or  was  it  what   I suspected—a whole  new way of looking  at human beings?
In an  effort  to get answers, I began  to corner  Phil  at  the  end  of each seminar and  squeeze  as much  information as I could  out of him.  He was always  cooperative—he seemed  to  like  answering questions—but each answer   led   to   another  question.  I  felt   I’d  hit   the   mother  lode   of information, and  I wanted to take  home  as much  of it as possible.  I was insatiable.
Which brought up another issue. What I was learning from Phil was so powerful that  I wanted it to be the  core  of my work  with  patients. But there was  no training program to apply  to, no academic hurdles to jump over.  That was  stuff I was  good  at, but he seemed to have  no interest in it, which made me  feel  insecure. How  could   I  qualify to be  trained? Would  he  even  think of me  as a candidate? Was  I turning him  off with my questions?
Not too long  after I began giving  the seminars, this intense young  guy named  Barry   Michels   began  to  show   up.   With  some   hesitation,  he identified  himself as  a  therapist, although, given   the detailed way  he questioned me, he sounded more  like a lawyer. Whatever he was,  he was really smart.
But that’s not why I answered his questions. I’ve never  been impressed by   intellect   or   credentials.   What  caught   my   attention  was    how enthusiastic he was; how  he’d go home  and  use the tools himself. I didn’t know  if I was  imagining it, but I felt as  though he’d been  looking for something for a long time and  had  finally  found  it.
Then  he asked  me a question I’d never been  asked  before.
“I  was   wondering.…  Who   taught  you   this  stuff  …  the  tools  and everything? My training program didn’t touch on anything remotely like it.”
“No one taught me.”
“You mean you came  up with this yourself?” I hesitated. “Yeah … well,  not exactly.”
I didn’t know  if I should tell him  how  I really got the information. But he seemed open-minded, so I decided to give it a try. It was  a somewhat unusual story, that began with the very  first patients I treated, and  one in particular.
Tony  was  a  young  surgical   resident at  the  hospital where   I  was  a resident  in  psychiatry.  Unlike  a  lot  of  the  other   surgeons,  he  wasn’t arrogant, in  fact  when  I first  saw  him,  cowering near  the  door  of my office, he looked  like a trapped rat.  When I asked  him  what  was wrong, he  answered, “I’m  afraid  of a test  I have  to take.”  He was  shaking  like the  test  was  in  ten  minutes; but  it  wasn’t  scheduled  for  another  six months. All tests  scared  him—and this  one  was  a  big  one.  It  was  his board-certification exam in surgery.
I interpreted his  history  the  way  I’d  been  trained to.  His father  had made a  fortune in  dry  cleaning but was  a  college   dropout with deep feelings of  inferiority. On  the surface, he  wanted his  son  to become a famous surgeon to gain  a vicarious sense  of success. But underneath,  he was  so insecure that he was  threatened by the idea  of his son surpassing him.   Tony  was  unconsciously terrified  to succeed for  this reason: his father would see  him  as a rival  and  retaliate. Failing  his  exams  was  his way  of keeping himself safe.  At least that was  what I’d been  trained to believe.
When   I  gave   this  interpretation  to  Tony,   he   was   skeptical.  “That sounds like something out of a textbook. My father has  never pushed me to do  anything for  his  sake.  I can’t blame my  problem on  him.”  Still, it seemed to help  at first; he  looked and  felt better. But as the day  of the test drew  closer,  his anxiety returned. He wanted to postpone the exam. I assured him  this was  just his unconscious fear  of his father. All he had to do  was  keep  talking about it, and  it would go away  again. This  was the traditional, time-tested approach to his  problem. I was  so confident that I guaranteed he’d pass his test.
I was wrong. He failed  miserably.
We had  one  last session  after that. He  still looked like  a trapped rat, but this time an  angry trapped rat. His words echoed in  my  ears.  “You didn’t give me a real  way  to conquer fear.  Talking about my father every time was like fighting a gorilla with a water pistol. You failed  me.”
My  experience with  Tony  opened my  eyes.  I  realized how  helpless patients could  feel  facing  a  problem by  themselves. What they needed were  solutions that would give  them the power to fight back.  Theories and  explanations couldn’t  give  that kind  of  power; they needed forces they could  feel.
I had  a series of other,  less spectacular failures.  In each  case, a patient was  in some  state  of suffering:  depression, panic,  obsessional rage,  etc. They  pleaded with  me for a way  to make  their  pain  go away.  I had  no idea how to help them.
I was experienced at dealing  with  failure.  I was addicted to basketball growing  up and played  with  kids bigger  and better  than  I was. (Actually, almost   everybody  was  bigger   than   I  was.)   If  I  performed  badly   at basketball, I just  practiced more.  This was different. Once I lost faith  in the  way  I’d  been  taught to do therapy, there  was nothing to practice. It was as though someone  took the ball away.
My  supervisors were   sincere and   dedicated, but they attributed  my doubts to inexperience. They  told me most young  therapists doubt themselves, but as  time passes, they learn that therapy can  only  do  so much.  By   accepting  its  limitations,  they  don’t   feel   as   bad   about themselves.
But those limitations were  unacceptable to me.
I wouldn’t be satisfied until I could  offer  patients what they asked  for: a way  to help  themselves now.  I decided I would find  a way  to do  this no  matter where it took me.  Looking  back,  I realize that this was  the next step on a path that had  started when I was a child.
When  I was  nine,  my three-year-old brother died  of a rare  cancer. My parents, who  had  limited emotional resources, never recovered. A cloud of doom  hung  over  them. This  tragedy changed my  role  in  the family. Their  hope  for  the future became focused on  me—as  if I had  a  special power to make  the doom  go away. Each  evening my father would come home  from  work,  sit in his rocking chair, and  worry.
He didn’t do it quietly.
I’d  sit  on  the floor   next  to  his  chair,  and   he’d  warn  me  that his business might go bankrupt any  day  (he  called it “going  busted”). He’d ask  me  stuff like  “Could  you  make  do  with only  one  pair  of pants?” Or “What  if  we  all  had   to  live  in  one   room?”  None   of  his  fears   were realistic; they were  as close  as he could  come  to admitting his terror that death would visit us  again. Over  the next few  years, I realized my  job was to reassure him.  In effect, I became my father’s shrink.
I was twelve years  old.
Not that I thought about it that way.  I didn’t think at all.  I was  moved by  an   instinctive  fear   that  if  I  didn’t  accept  this  role,   doom   would overwhelm us.  As unrealistic as that  fear  was,  it felt  absolutely real  at the  time.  Being  under  that  kind  of pressure as a kid  gave  me  strength when  I grew up and got real patients. Unlike many  of my peers,  I wasn’t intimidated by  their  demands. I’d been  in  that  role  for  almost  twenty years.
But just because  I was willing to address  my patients’ pain didn’t mean
I knew  how.  One thing  I was sure  of: I was on my own.  There  were  no books  I  could  read,   no  experts   I  could  correspond  with,   no  training programs I could  apply  to.  All I had  to go on was my instincts. I didn’t know  it yet,  but  they  were  about  to lead  me to a whole  new  source  of
My  instincts  led   me   into  the  present.  That’s  where  my   patients’ suffering was.  Taking  them back  to their past was  just a  distraction;  I didn’t  want any   more   Tonys.   The  past has  memories,  emotions,  and insights,  all   of  which  have   value.  But  I  was   looking  for  something powerful enough to bring  relief  right now.  To find  it, I had  to stay in the present.
I had  only  one  rule:  every  time a patient asked  for  relief—from hurt feelings, self-consciousness, demoralization,  or  anything else—I  had  to address it then and  there. I had  to come  up  with something on the spot. Working without a  net, I got in  the habit of saying  out loud  whatever occurred to me  that might help  the patient. It was  kind  of like  Freud’s free  association in  reverse—done by  the doctor instead of  the patient. I’m not sure  he would have  approved.
I  got to the point where I  could   talk without  knowing what I  was going   to say  next.  It began  to  feel  as  though some   other force   was speaking through  me.  Little  by  little, the  tools in  this book  (and   the philosophy behind them)  made themselves known. The  only  standard they had  to meet was that they worked.
Since  I never considered my search complete until I had  a specific  tool to offer  a patient, it’s  crucial to understand exactly what I mean when I use  the term tool. A tool is much more  than an  “attitude adjustment.” If changing your  life  were  only  a  matter of  adjusting your  attitude, you wouldn’t need  this book.  Real change requires you to change your behavior—not just your  attitude.
Let’s say  you  scream when you  get frustrated—you let loose  on  your spouse,  your   kids,   your   employees.  Someone  helps   you   realize  how unseemly this  is, how  it’s damaging your  relationships. You now  have  a new  attitude  about   screaming.  You  may  feel  enlightened  and   better about  yourself  … until  an  employee makes  a costly  mistake. At which point  you start  screaming without even thinking.
A change  in attitude won’t stop  you from screaming because  attitudes can’t  control  behavior; they’re  not  strong  enough. To control  behavior you  need  a  specific  procedure to  use  at  a  specific  time  to  combat   a specific problem. That’s what  a tool is.
You’ll have  to wait  (without screaming if you  can)  until  Chapter  3 to learn   the  tool  that   applies   here.   The  point   is  that   a  tool—unlike  an
attitude adjustment—requires you to do something. Not only  does  it take work,  it’s work  you  have  to do over  and  over  again—every time you  get frustrated. A new  attitude means nothing unless  followed by a change in behavior. The surest way  to change behavior is with a tool.
Beyond  what I’ve said  so far, there’s a more  crucial difference between a tool and  an  attitude. An attitude consists of thoughts happening inside your  head—even if you  change it, you’re working within the limitations you  already have. The  most profound value  of a tool is that it takes you beyond  what  happens  inside  your   head.  It  connects you   to a  world infinitely  bigger   than you  are,   a  world  of  limitless  forces.   It  doesn’t matter whether you  call  this the collective unconscious or  the spiritual world. I found  it simplest to call  it the “higher world,” and  the forces  it contains I call “higher forces.”
Because  I needed the tools to have  such  power, it took a great deal  of effort  to  develop  them.  The   information  would  emerge  in  a  crude, unfinished form  at first. I’d have  to rework a tool hundreds of times. My patients  never  complained; in  fact, they  liked   being   part of  creating something. They  were  always willing to test-drive a  new  version of  a tool and  come  back  and  tell me  what had  worked and  what hadn’t.  All they asked  is that the tool help  them.
The  process made me  vulnerable to them. I couldn’t hold  myself  at a distance like  an  all-knowing authority figure  handing down  information from  on high.  This  work  was  more  of a joint effort—which was  actually a  relief.   I  was  never comfortable with the  traditional  therapy  model where the  patient  was   “ill”  and   the  therapist,  holding him   at arm’s length like  a  dead  fish,  would “cure”  him.  This  always offended me—I didn’t feel I was any  better than my patients.
What  I enjoyed  as a therapist wasn’t holding  the patient at a distance;
it was  putting power  into  my patients’  hands.  Teaching  them  the  tools was my way of giving them  the ultimate gift—the  ability  to change  their lives.  That  made  it  tremendously satisfying  each  time  a  tool  was  fully developed.
In the  process  of developing the  tools,  it would  be  surprisingly clear when  a tool  was fully formed.  It never  felt like I made  it up out  of thin air;  I had  the  distinct impression that  I was  uncovering something that already existed.  What  I did  bring  to  the  table  was  faith  that,  for  each problem I could  identify, there  was  a tool  to  be discovered that  would bring  relief.  I was like a dog with a bone  until the tool appeared.
That faith was  about to be  rewarded in  a  way  I  never could   have imagined.
As time went by,  I observed what happened to patients who  used  the tools  regularly.  As  I’d  hoped,  they  were   now   able   to  control  their symptoms: panic, negativity, avoidance, etc. But something else— something unexpected—was happening. They  began to develop new abilities. They  were  able  to express themselves more  confidently; they experienced  a  level  of  creativity they’d  never  felt before; they  found themselves emerging as  leaders. They  were   having an  impact on  the world around them—often for the first time in their lives.
I’d  never set out to do  this. I had  defined my  job  as  returning the patient to “normal.” But these patients were  going  far  beyond normal— developing potential they didn’t  even  know  they had.   The  same  tools that relieved pain  in  the present, when used  over  time, were  affecting every  part of  their lives.  The  tools were  turning out to be  even  more powerful than I’d hoped.
To make  sense  out of this, I had  to expand my focus  beyond the tools themselves  and   take  a   closer   look   at  the  higher  forces   they  were releasing.  I’d  seen   these  forces   at work   before.  So  have   you—every human being   has  experienced them.  They  have   a  hidden, unexpected power that lets us  do  things we  usually think of as impossible. But, for most people, the only  time we  have  access  to them is in an  emergency. Then,  we  can  act with heightened courage and  resourcefulness—but as soon  as the emergency is over,  the powers go away;  we  forget we  even have  them.
My patients’  experiences opened my  eyes  to a completely new  vision of human potential. My patients were  functioning as if they  had  access to these  forces every  day.  Using the  tools,  the  forces could  be generated at  will.  This  discovery   revolutionized my  view  of  how  psychotherapy should    work.    Instead    of   seeing   problems   as   an   expression   of   a “condition” whose  cause  was  in  the  past,  we  needed   to  see  them  as catalysts for developing forces  that  were  already present, lying  dormant inside us.
But  the   therapist  had   to  do  more   than   just  see  the   problems  as catalysts. His job  was  to  give  the  patient concrete access  to  the  forces that  were  needed  to solve the  problems. These forces  had  to be felt, not just talked about. That required something therapy had  never provided: a set of tools.
I  had   just  spent  an   hour    pouring  out  a   tremendous  amount  of information.  Barry   had   taken it  all  in  stride,  nodding  vigorously  at points. There  was  only  one  fly in the ointment. I noticed that every  time I  mentioned  “forces”   he  looked  doubtful.  I  knew   he  wasn’t  good   at hiding   what   he    was    thinking—I   got   ready   for    the   inevitable interrogation.
Most of what Phil  had  said  was  revelatory. I absorbed it like  a  sponge and   was  ready to use  it on  my  patients.  But there  was  one   point  I couldn’t  swallow:   it  was  the  part   about   these   higher   forces  he  kept referring to. He was  asking  me  to believe in something that couldn’t  be measured or  even  seen.  I was  pretty sure  I’d  hidden these doubts from him.  Then  he interrupted my thoughts.
“Something’s bothering you.”
“No, nothing … that was amazing.”
He  just stared at me.  The  last time I  felt like  this was  when I  got caught putting sugar   on  my  cereal as  a  kid.  “All  right. Just one  little thing …  okay,   it isn’t  so  little.  Are  you  absolutely  sure   about these higher forces?”
He  certainly looked sure.  Then,  he  asked  me,  “Did  you  ever  make  a big  change in your  life—like a quantum leap  where you  went way  past what you thought you could  do?”
As a  matter of fact, I had.  Although I had  tried hard to forget it, I’d started my professional life as a lawyer. By age twenty-two, I had  gained admission to one of the  best  law schools  in the  country. By age twenty- five, I had graduated near  the top of my class and was hired  immediately by a prestigious law  firm.  Having  conquered the  system,  I stood  at  the top   of   the   mountain—and  I   hated    it   right   away.   It   was   stuffy, conservative, and  boring.  I constantly fought  the  urge  to  quit.  But  I’d pushed  myself  really  hard  all my life; quitting wasn’t  in my repertoire. How would  I explain  quitting a powerful, well-compensated profession— especially   to  my  parents, who’d encouraged me  to  be  an  attorney my whole  life?
But  somehow  I  did  quit.   I  remembered  the  day  very  well.  I  was twenty-eight years  old,  standing in the lobby  of the office building where I  worked, staring into the  silent, glazed-over faces  passing by  on  the sidewalk outside. For a moment, to my horror, I saw  my own  face  in the reflection of the window. My eyes  looked dead. Suddenly I felt I was  in jeopardy of  losing   everything and   becoming  one  of  those gray-suited zombies. Then,  just as suddenly, I felt something I’d  never felt before: a force  of absolute conviction, absolute confidence. Without any  effort on my  part, I felt it carry  me  right into my  boss’s office.  I quit on the spot. When  I looked back  on  what happened with Phil’s question in  mind,  I realized I had been  propelled by a force  that came  from  someplace else.
As I described this to Phil,  he  got excited. He pointed at me  and  said, “That’s  what I’m  talking about. You felt a higher force  in action. People have   these  experiences all  the time, but they don’t  understand  what they’re  feeling.”  He  paused  and   asked,  “You  didn’t  plan   for  that  to happen, right?”
I shook  my head.
“Can  you  imagine what your  life  would be  like  if you  could  tap into that force  at will?  That’s what the tools give you.”
I  still couldn’t  fully  accept the  idea   of  higher  forces,   but it didn’t matter. Whatever you  called the force  that allowed me to change my life
—I knew  it was  real.  I had  felt it. If the tools gave  me  access  to it every day,  I didn’t care  what you  called it. And when I introduced the tools to my  patients, they didn’t care  either. Thrilled with the possibility that I could  truly help  change their lives,  I was  radiating an  enthusiasm you can’t fake.  That got their attention in a way  nothing else ever  had.
The feedback was  uniformly positive. Many  commented on how  much more  productive the sessions seemed. “Normally, I’d leave  here  in a fog, not sure I’d gotten  anything out of the session.  Now, I leave  here  feeling like there’s something I can do—something practical that will help me.” For the first time in my short  career,  I felt able to instill  hope  in my patients. It changed everything. I began  to hear  a familiar  refrain—“You’ve given me more in one session than  I’ve gotten  in years of therapy.” My practice quickly  grew.  I was  feeling  more  fulfilled  than  ever  before.  And  sure enough, I noticed  the  same  changes  in my patients that  Phil  saw  when he was discovering the  tools.  Their  lives were  expanding in unexpected ways.  They  were  becoming  better   leaders,  better   parents;  they   were bolder  in every area  of their  lives.
Twenty-five  years    have    passed  since   Phil   and   I  met.  The   tools delivered exactly what he  said  they would: a  daily  connection to life- changing higher forces.  The more  I used  the tools, the more  clearly I felt that these forces  came  through  me,  not from  me—they were  a  gift from somewhere  else.   They   carried  an   extraordinary power that  made it possible to do  things I’d  never done   before. Over  time, I was  able  to accept that these new  powers were  given  to me  by  higher forces.  Not only  have  I experienced these forces  for two and  a half  decades, I’ve had the privilege of training patients to access  them just as consistently.
The  purpose of this book  is to give  you  the same  access.  These  forces will  revolutionize the way  you  look  at your  life and  your  problems. The problems won’t scare  or overwhelm you  anymore. Instead of asking, “Is there anything I can  do  about that problem?” you’ll  learn to ask  a very different question: “Which  tool allows  me to solve it?”
Between the two of us,  Phil  and  I have  sixty years  of psychotherapy experience. Based  on  this experience, we’ve identified four  fundamental problems that keep  people from  living  the lives  they want to live.  How much happiness and  satisfaction you  get out of life will  depend on  how well  you  can  free  yourself from  those problems. Each  of  the next four chapters addresses one  of these. Each  chapter also  provides you  with the tool that works  most effectively on  that problem. We’ll  explain how  the tool connects you  to a  higher force—and we’ll explain how  that force solves  your  problem.
You  may  not see  your  problems exactly reflected in  the struggles of the patients we  discuss. Fortunately, that  doesn’t mean you  can’t take advantage of the tools. You’ll find  that they’ll help  you  in  a  variety of situations. To make  that perfectly clear, at the end  of each  chapter we’ll describe  what  we call “Other  Uses” for each  tool.  You’ll probably find at least  one of these  that  applies  to your  life. What  we’ve found  is that  the four higher  forces the tools evoke are basic necessities for a fulfilling  life. It matters less what  form your problem takes than  that  you use the tools.
We’re  confident  about   everything  in  this   book   because   it’s  been developed and  tested  through real  experience. But don’t  take  our  word for it; read  it skeptically. As you do, you might  find yourself  questioning some  of  the  ideas.   We’ve  heard   most  of  these   questions  before,   and toward the end of each chapter we’ll answer  the most common  ones. But the real answers  are in the tools; using them  will allow you to experience the   effect  of   higher  forces.    We’ve   found    that  once    people  have experienced this repeatedly, their objections disappear.
Since the bottom line  is getting you to use the tools, at the end  of each chapter you’ll  find  a very  short summary of the problem, the tool, and how  to use  it. If you’re  serious about using  the tools, you’ll  return to these summaries over  and  over  again to stay on course.
By  the  time you’ve  finished the  next four   chapters,  you  will  have learned the four  tools that will  enable you  to live  a  fulfilling life.  You might think this is all  you  need. It’s not. It may  surprise you,  but most people stop using  the tools even  though they work.  This  is  one  of  the most maddening things about human nature: we  quit doing  the things that help  us the most.
We’re really serious about helping you  change your  life. If you  feel the same   way,   you’re  going  to have   to overcome your   resistance. This  is where the rubber meets the road. In  order to succeed, you’ll need   to understand what stops you  from  using  the tools—and you’ll need  a way to fight back.  Chapter 6 tells you  how.  It gives  you  a fifth tool, in some ways  the most crucial one.  This  is the tool that makes  sure  you’ll keep using  the other four.
There’s  one  more   thing you’ll  need   to make   absolutely certain you don’t give  up  on  using  the tools to connect with higher forces.   Faith. Higher forces  are  so mysterious that it’s  almost impossible not to doubt their  existence  from   time  to  time.  Some   would  even   call   this  the existential issue  of  the  modern age—how to have   faith in  something completely intangible. In my case,  I imbibed doubt and  disbelief with my mother’s milk  because both of my  parents were  atheists. They  would’ve laughed at the word  faith,  let alone   anything like  “higher forces”  that couldn’t   be   explained   rationally   or   scientifically.   Chapter    7   will document my struggle  to place  my trust  in these  forces  and  help  you to do the same.
Believe me, if I learned to have faith,  anyone  can.
I assumed  that  accepting higher  forces  as real  was  the  final  leap  I’d have  to take.  I was wrong.  Phil  had  one  more  crazy  idea  up his sleeve. He claimed  that  every time anyone  used a tool, the higher  forces evoked would  benefit  not  just  the  individual, but  everyone around him  or her. Over  the  years,  this  seemed  less and  less crazy.  I came  to  believe  that higher   forces  were  more  than   just  beneficial  to  society—we   couldn’t survive without  them.  You  needn’t  take my  word   for  this. Chapter 8 gives you a way  to experience it for yourself.
The  health of  our  society depends on  the efforts of  each  individual. Every  time one  of us gains  access  to higher forces,  all of us benefit. That places  a special responsibility on  those who  know  how  to use  the tools. They  become the first to bring  higher forces  to the rest of the society. They are  pioneers, building a new,  reinvigorated community.
I wake  up  every  morning grateful that higher forces  are  there. They never  stop revealing  themselves in  new  ways.   Through this book   we share  their  magic   with  you.   We’re  excited about  the  journey you’re about to undertake.

Source: The Tools: Transform Your Problems into Courage, Confidence, and Creativity by Phil Stutz,‎ Barry Michels

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