Who knows what you really want?

articles The other day I was talking to a friend who told me, that he had realized how he needed to set smarter goals. What are smarter goals? It’s actually SMARTER goals.

An acronym that most people who have already attended more motivational seminars than they have completed desert marathons, will know as one of the staple standard slide-deck elements on such events. And it is, a good method, for thinking about your goals. That, and Maslows “hierarchy of needs”. Which you probably know in the format of a pyramid, but actually – Maslow never presented it like that at all.

Subscribe if you might like to receive an email notification on my upcoming rant about the pyramid that wasn’t – this post is about something completely different.
 

The SMARTER goals framework and when it isn’t.

SMARTER goals are the ones that are Specific and Measurable and depending on what version you are applying as the chosen method of choice; Attractive or Attainable. Evaluation is always represented by the E. Sometimes, you will see the same idea referred to as simply SMART goals.

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Like this illustration I snagged from a Hootsuite post on social media marketing monitoring. If you run a business, SMARTER goals make sense for your everyday activities. When your strategy has been defined, SMART/ER goals is a great tool for staying on track.

 
So far, so good. But what if, your SMARTER goals really are not that smart at all. But rather just serve to make you go faster in the wrong direction, in place of entirely changing your course?

What if, the thing you are trying to achieve, really cannot be objectively measured at all? Then what? Do you just stick a Likert-scale on a few random parameters and call it a day? Or, did you get that if a goal cannot be measured objectively – no, that does not mean, that you goal is not “smart”. It just means that you cannot really use the SMARTER goals framework. For that, specific thing. That probably is not even ONE thing. It might not even be a “thing” at all.

A marathon is not a thing, it’s an activity, but it would be a perfect example of a thing where the SMARTER goals idea would make sense.

Now imagine, that you are not literally planning to run a marathon or anything of the like. Is it then advisable to use a method that is suitable for only these types of goals?

Imagine that you insisted on trying to squeeze a complex problem into a simple framework, that was never designed for dealing with complex problems to begin with. Frustration will ensue. It is like the proverbial square peg in the equally proverbial round hole. It’s not going to work unless you make either one of them bigger, or the other one smaller. Or stop thinking about problems in terms of pegs and holes.
 
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SMARTER goals was designed for simple solutions to simple problems. To which, you already know the answer.

Want to run a marathon? Don’t just say “I want to run a marathon, some day”. And then go grab an extra bag of doughnuts as a reward for having set an ambitious goal for yourself. Choose a specific marathon. On a specific date, on a specific location. Is it realistic? Practice. Measure your progress, set a time-constraint, evaluate, re-evaluate. Simple.

Even the dumbest person on the Planet can manage to complete a marathon. Given a reasonable level of physical fitness, all they really need is a good coach. To cheer them on and help them adjust the plan as needed. SMARTER goals are fine for dumb problems.

Except life is not a goddamn marathon. In fact – nothing is a marathon, except an actual marathon.

Be careful of metaphors. They are full of holes.

Saying that “starting a business is like running a marathon” essentially means nothing more than that you need to be resilient, and plan ahead. Be in it for the long haul and all that. It is that little word “like” that trips people up. Especially when the word “like” is only implied. But of course in StartUp Land, it makes sense on more levels, because – well …

What happens once you have successfully completed ONE marathon?

Oh and also – say “challenge”, not “problem”. A marathon is not a problem, it is a challenge. So you see, if you just view ALL your problems as challenges …

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“When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure”. [ Goodharts Law ]
 
Think about this for a second. How often have you found yourself setting a “goal”, that upon closer inspection was just another measure for something else. Just one measure, out of many. Possible measures.

Fun factoid. In Danish, the word for measure and the word for goal, is the same. I find this to be confusing, when I speak about goals versus measures in Danish.

How many types of measures can you think of, that would be good measures for success?

Grades are a good example. Is an A a good measure for how much you can demonstrate that you understand about a specific subject? Yes. But is the “A” really the target, that motivates you to be getting to classes and not fall asleep during them? I should hope not. I do recommend SMARTER goals to students. I also recommend using more metrics than just the grade, to measure ones depth of understanding. Sometimes, just knowing what the correct answer is, does not irrefutably prove that the student fully understands the question.

What if, all your SMARTER goals help you achieve, is more of the same kind of stupid thinking that got you into whatever mess you think that you’re in, to begin with?

Can you ever solve a problem using the same kind of logic that created it?

What if – those SMARTER goals just means that you’re doing a dumb thing more effectively? How smart is that, on a scale from one to ten?
 

This is what coaching is for.

The more stuck you feel, the more compelled you are likely to be towards “action”. Which means that the first person who comes along and gives you a simple enough sounding method for “propelling massive action” is a person you may well feel compelled to buy from. Sometimes, that will work out just fine. Sometimes.

My friend here, had been setting SMARTER goals for something that he, upon deeper reflection, actually didn’t really want at all. Or to be more exact. Something, that was unlikely to make him sleep well at night. Which happens quite a lot.

I am not saying that it was a dumb thing to want. The thing he really wanted, was related – but was something he had not dared to admit to himself. Conveniently forgotten. Until this *points to self* annoying coach-person starts asking him all manner of really annoying questions.

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How often do you find yourself talking to a friend or family member about a challenge you have, something you think that “talking about it” will provide you with clarity on?

Only to have been at the receiving end of a barrage of suggestions and how-to-guides, feeling even more confused and than you were to begin with. And not in the good way. Possibly even annoyed, because some of their suggestions might not be that far off the mark. But you’ll be damned if you’re going to follow them, because – well, what makes them such an effing expert on the matter anyway.

Depends on who you talk to. Depends on how good they are at listening. Depends on how many issues they have going on themselves, from which their suggestions are likely to be clouded.

Now bonfires and beer was invented for a reason. Sometimes all you need, is to sit down, shut up and poke around a fire for a bit, making grunty sounds to the appraisal of the glorious aspects of ale. Get your mind off the issue for a while, and you gain some perspective.

Other times, even the best bonfire is not going to solve the issue. Because it’s an ongoing concern. It is not going away, no matter how hard you ignore it.

Those who are hell-bent on giving you the solution, before they understand the problem – before you even understand the problem, because if you did – it would not be such a challenging problem – may mean well. I know that they most often do. Mean well.

It just doesn’t help. Solutions to problems one does not fully comprehend, is hardly any solution at all. In some cases, it may even make matters much worse.

If part of the problem exists on a macro-structural level, you need to understand the structural issues, before you start yammering on about evolutionary psychology and Odysseus only knows what else. There are no “dumb questions” but there certainly are a lot of half-baked answers. I could give you examples, but maybe all I need to say is “pick-up artists”. And let’s leave it at that.

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Start with why.

If you’re feeling somewhat stuck, and you think that all you need is to start setting “smarter goals” or SMARTER goals, start with WHY.

What is it that you really want?

Why is this thing or activity or opportunity or scenario or whatever, something you are willing to strive for? Why is it important? What will it help you achieve? Happiness? Why not start there? What is preventing you from being happy? If you say “because I need to achieve this goal, before I can be happy” – there’s your problem.

Often when people hire a coach to help them “achieve more” in life, only rarely are the goals they start out by stating as their reason for hiring the coach, the actual why. There are usually more than one thing lurking beneath these surface-goals. That which they are really missing. Or that which is the true ambition, behind the ambition. The desire behind the desire.
 

Words of advice.

It’s great to have someone in your life who can advise you. I recommend having several. I recommend choosing wisely. The problem is, if all you ever seek is “advice on this” or “good methods for that”. All you get is advice on things that may not at all be what you really need to be looking for, right now. If even at all.

You might have heard me say that “it is not the answer that illuminates, but the question”. The quote is attributed to Eugene Ionesco, whom I tend to get confused with late author Umberto Eco.

Who advised, that one should always own more books than one could ever possibly have time enough to read. I don’t know what that piece of advice, or quote – these are often taken out of context – would mean to a person who does not like to read.

Maybe he might interpret that to mean, that a person need only ever own one book, besides The Good Book. Which is good, because it’s good. And it’s a book. [ Tim Minchin reference. You can find “The Good Book” on Youtube -ed ]

Or maybe you “get it” and that it’s not really about books or The Book at all. It’s about access to knowledge and insight and being curious and not thinking that you can ever know “enough” about anything. It’s not about hoarding paper bound in pretty covers, or having fifteen terrabytes worth of written material stored on a hard-drive somewhere. Possibly in “the cloud”. For easy access from anywhere. That has a working connection.

It’s about surrounding yourself with intelligence.

We take advice as interpreted. When a person who knows you, offers a few words of advice, those words are still going to be more personally tailored to both you and your specific situation, than any algorithm based search will ever be able to provide at the present moment in time.

It may also be heavily biased.

Give it time though, and it is likely that algorithms will be able to offer us the answer to a question we did not even ask. Imagine asking for “doughnuts” and the answer you get is “Did you not already have five today? Are you sure you don’t just need a hug? Here are some suggestions, based on …“

Imagine search-suggestions being given, based on biases formed from the day you were born. Might as well be asking a parent. Well, a parent that never allowed you to move out of sight, let alone leave home. But fortunately – or unfortunately, depending on how much you like the idea of an all seeing eye, this is presently not entirely the case.

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There are plenty of people who in all honesty will claim, that they certainly don’t need no formal education, because on the Internet – you can find anything! But perhaps you might also consider, that on the Internet, anything can find you.

There is more to a formal education than information. There is more to intelligence than automation, no matter what certain machine-learning enthusiasts might want believe.

Critical thinking, just to mention one. Without it, no amount of information will be very useful.

Aside from perhaps the kind of skill you can pick up along the way by copy-pasting from Stackoverflow and apply in the world of web-design. I’m sorry, but just because you can find the right snippet of code that will make whatever you are doing, work for achieving a specific subset of simple tasks – that really does not make you a programmer.

Learning a language, and learning how to translate a complex problem into that language, does.

Plus, could we also maybe agree that HTML is not really a “programming language”? There are lots of lovely things one can do with HTML. Programming just isn’t one of them.
 
But I digress. You get the idea. It’s not really about programming. Or web-design. Or my pet peeve about people calling HTML a programming language. I am using this as a metaphor.

First you need to understand the problem.

Copy-pasting a script may be useful, but there may also be a few problems with this approach. I suppose it’s a bit like learning French by using a phrasebook. It’s a fine enough introduction. If all you want is to be able to order a baguette with cheese, maybe that is all you need. But you probably need more than a standard set of fixed phrases to be able to claim that you are fluent in French. Especially, if you decide to put “fluent in French” on your resume.

Likewise with people who decide to start coaching other people, or decide to start hosting “self-improvement” seminars. It is probably advisable, not simply to copy-paste the script from someone else. Yes I am looking at you, Anthony Robbins-Wannabees. Now, let me ask you – say AYE.
 

Just ask the Internet …

You need not go to school, not really, this much we know – from reading half-baked wantrepenuerial ramblings on the Internet all about how Steve Jobs was a Stanford drop-out, and therefore … you probably need not even complete high-school, not if you have this awesome idea. And enough wantrepenurial zest to boot.

Yeah, about that? I think the word one needs to pay attention to in that sentence is STANFORD. Not the word “drop-out”. I think that maybe the kind of student who gets into an ivy league university is pretty much already ahead of the curve.

You need not pay good money to attend some expensive seminar, which aside from demanding that you get out of the house, probably also is going to require that you wear pants – because The Internet! Well .. maybe that is missing the point of the greatest library ever built. Just a bit.

Of course the expensive seminar could be an over-hyped load of dingos kidneys, but still. I am trying to build a case for personal coaching here, so bear with me while I work my way into a shamelessly transparent sales-pitch for my own coaching services.

You need not even hire a person to listen to you while you try to figure out what it is, really, that you have been looking for and why you have as of yet been unable to find it. You can just ask – The Internet.

Actually – no. You can’t literally “ask the Internet” anything.

You can search for stuff. And find people, whom you can ask. On the Interwebs. Which is useful. I like the Interwebs. It’s the most fun place I know, that isn’t actually a place. It is also growing with such a remarkable speed, that we need clever algorithms to help us navigate. We could not possibly find our way on our own, unless we already knew where we were going. Which is what the address bar is for, and yet people will actually google-search a web-address. An address, mind you, that they already know perfectly well. I have no idea why that is.

Google may be smart, but the results you get from asking the search engine a question, are still based on the quality of the question you ask.

The advice you are given from a person, is never going to be better than how well the person giving it knows you, or how well you know yourself.

I sometimes joke about the fact, that if I knew my clients search-history, I would understand their problems better than they understand themselves. Even before they had spoken a single word.

Our search-engines know more about us than our family does.
Most likely. Maybe you share everything with your friends and family, as it happens. Including your every thought, ideas and concerns. Including those pages on the Interwebs you never visit, unless you think that nobody is watching. Yes – I am talking about those pages you made sure to delete from your browser history, just in case.

But I highly doubt it. Because there are things that we prefer ro keep “private”. And there are things, that we do not even know about ourselves.

Things of which we are simply not aware.

Things that others may only be able to deduce from observing our behaviour directly, in real time and/or recorded.

You know, like when Facebook logs that long-ass rant you started typing in the app, never posted, but deleted, in the app, because you realized that it actually did not make much sense. But strangely, the next ad you see in the sidebar, is an advertisement for a mindfulness-based anger-management course. What a coincidence.

Oh well. Maybe you needed it. So it’s all good. Now did you ask the Internet for advice on how to handle your anger? Before that suggestion was served up for you? Not explicitly, no. The fancy word for this is behavioural profiling.

This is how things on the Internet find you, while you think that you’re busy finding things on the Internet. There is no longer such a thing as free search. Think of it as free speech, only for thoughts.

I suppose the good news is, that the advertisements that find you, are quite often totally crap. Because that means, that we’re still not entirely there yet, in terms of machines reading minds. The bad news, is that this only fuels the “need” to invade our privacy even further.

But let’s say that they could. Read minds. How would an automated intelligence know what you needed, if you did not even know it yourself? It could only suggest. Suggestion is influence.
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How do you find the right question?

The way in which you ask questions, frames the way you think about a particular problem. Which means, that if you need to think outside of the frame for a second, you do need someone else to ask the questions. That is what I mean by “it is not the answer that illuminates -”.

This is what personal coaching is for.

You need not hire me as your personal coach. You need not even hire anyone to coach you at all. I don’t like to call it “life-coaching”. I find that the term life-coaching sounds somewhat douchy. I am not entirely sure why that is.

Perhaps it is because of the connotations to the world of sports and games.

Perhaps it is because I prefer my clients not to think of me as someone who is going to be there for them, always. I really much rather prefer that you make use of my services for a loosely predefined limited time only.

Which is why you book for a standard maximum of 12 sessions. I like to think that part of my job with any client, is to make my personal coaching services redundant. It works for cognitive therapists, and it works for personal coaching too. Only in rare cases, do clients need to book extra sessions in addition to the already scheduled and paid.

I do sometimes have former clients booking single sessions for career- and business counselling. It saves them time, because I already have an idea of how they have arrived at where they’re at. It does not mean, however, that I presume anything to be given.

But enough with the sales-pitch.

You need not hire anyone to ask you the right questions, but you do need to find someone who is willing to suspend their belief in what they think they already know. Someone, who does not simply give you “advice”. Look for people who inspire you. To think critically, and dare to be confused about what you think that you already know.
 

Re-evaluate.

Your “goals”. Constantly. This is the smarter approach. Don’t just ask the Internet .. -webs. Just as the cloud is just another word for other peoples computers, the Interwebs is just another word for other peoples thoughts.

Some of which are – well, just slightly smarter than others.

 

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About the author

CM. Cooper has a background in media & communication, HRM (postgraduate) sociology and business negotiation.

She is partial to the pleasures of photography, open air music festivals, the works of Douglas Adams and silly puns about lions.

You can follow CM.Cooper on Twitter. For inquireries about private consulting email chris [at] undercover-coaching.com.
 

 

Why wombling about on your social media profiles feels better right now than getting shit done.

Don’t lie. You know how this feels. You wrote that neat list of items to do. You prioritized the items. Urgent, important versus un-important and not quite urgent. You even calculated the amount of time you’d need to accomplish whatever minor goals within time.

Just one more refresh times N hours later, you have managed to “like” a grand total of 14 cute cat-gifs, not counting the one with the bat, commented on #Applegate (please tell me that we are calling the whole FBI-wants-a-backdoor-Cook-does-not-comply shamozzle “Applegate”, or I shall lose all faith in the standard naming syntax for giant clusterfucks), dropped a few awfull jokes about Trumpvoters and managed to skillfully negotiate your way out of doing the dishes. That todo-list? Well.

Allright so maybe you cheated, and added “update social media profiles” as item number 5 on that list. Or, you may be the social media manager of some brand, person, event or thing – in which case dropping awful jokes about Trumpvoters may be part of your job-description.

But let’s assume that you’re not, and it isn’t.

What is it, exactly, that makes wombling about on social media so much of a infinitely more attractive activity than getting shit done?

What is it, that makes you feel compelled towards “just five more minutes” when you know very well that on social media it is NEVER “just five more minutes”?

 

Compelled to action

Contrary to what you rationally know to be true, your experience IN THE MOMENT is that you ARE in fact “getting shit done”.

In fact, the more used to compiling tidy todo-lists and checking boxes once an item has been “done”, the more likely you are to get yourself caught in the strobelight, like some sort of digitally discodancing deer, compulsively tapping, clicking, checking and scrolling away when really you know that there are other things to be done, and none of them are the ones you just did.

You are “getting shit done” allright.
That’s the problem. It may be just that. Shit, redundant activities, that in all likelihood need not in reality NEED to get done at all.

But as opposed to probably 80% of all the items you do need to get done. Important things, urgent things, urgent AND important things, and things that would sort of just be nice to get done before they become urgent – you know EXACTLY how to accomplish social media wombling-about-activity items.

As opposed to say – writing that report, sorting through those budgets or deciding on whether to go with option A, B or C on that project you’re overseeing the implementation of. You work as a “symbol analysist”? Designer? Executive-something? “Knowledge worker”? Student? Something-something-Information Management?

Complicated stuff that.
Social media – not so complicated.
 
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You see, social media – for lack of a better term – wombling-about, affords us the illusion of productivity.

One click – done. One item. Another click. Done; another item. Check. One comment, little more effort, but your standard knee-jerk reaction autoresponse will probably do just fine. Post something, oh what to choose – just share someone elses post. There. Done. Check. Completed; tiny task.

This feels great. Very productive. Sort of.

Plus the reward is instant. When someone likes, comments or shares what you just did. Unlike that report that hardly anybody is going to like, let alone actually read. A cute bat-gif on the other hand. Like; instant gratification.
 

“I’ve got it under control”

Sure you do. Except not really. You do not control how your attention is being manipulated to get you to pay more attention to the screen, and less time to what is going on behind it.

Don’t feel bad about how much time you actually spend on these marginally useful activities either. Most people spend far more time on social media than they care to admit and invest more emotional energy than they dare to realize.

And to be clear. The Internet is awesome. The Interwebs is awesome too. Facebook is a social media application. Facebook is not the Internet.

Now does social media activity in general and being “on” Facebook in particular make you feel more calm, happy, elated or energized? I’m not talking about the meaningful interactions.

The ones that can and do occur. I’m talking about the compulsive aimless, mindless sharing, liking, checking-for-updates kind of usage. Especially, the compulsive checking. oh, just five more minutes. One more refresh. One more scroll. Update, refresh, repeat. That. You know what that, is “like”.

But blaming social media for your lack of actual productivity is like blaming coke for being fun at parties. If you like that kind of party. Personally I don’t, but each to their own.

 

Social media are not here to make you more productive.

Social media are not even here to make you connect better with family and friends. Social media are here to make you share things on social media. That is the basis of any social media business model.

On occasion, this is kinda brilliant. But most often, it’s just not. Until someone comes up with, and managages to engage enough people in, a more ethically designed social media network-application, we’re stuck with the ones that make the truly meaningful interactions rare gems to stumble upon.

I used to say, that social media are only as shallow as you are. But really that is no longer entirely true, if indeed it ever actually was. Social media are as shallow as you allow yourself to be, under the restraints of the format of the media in question. The last part, is the part which has to do with the design. The part you as the “user” have neither influence nor control over.

You know this, obviously – but how does your behaviour reflect this insight?

Do you know how to harness that cheeky desire to get more views, impressions, likes, shares on whatever random brainfart you just composed? Obsessively checking the number of things that can be counted against some arbitrary score of awesomeness?

Do you know how to avoid the temptation of not wanting to miss out on some potentially brilliant, thoughtprovoking or marginally amusing comment that *might* be lurking just below the fold?

Or, do you just need another “five minutes” before you can comfortably close those “social apps” and get back to work? Get back to the person in front of you? Get back to just being present, here – now?
 

There’s an app for that

Treating the sympton. Sure. I do that with hangovers. The treatment is called fastfood and aspirin. Do you need another goddamn app to tell you that time is up and close your social media apps for you? An aspirin for compulsion-by-design, really?

But – the need to “unwind” and/or “be social”? Maybe. There is that. So let’s talk about how “social” social media really is, and at what cost. In another post. You can subscribe if you want it delivered directly in your inbox.

Or, you can follow me on the social media “platform” that I presently find to be the least terrible option. Although there *may* be the odd joke about Trumpvoters. Yeah, I’m totally getting shit done. social relationships 2 personal leadership media literacy 2 articles

 

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About the author

CM. Cooper currently coaches private clients on better social media management. Get in touch if yours has gotten out of hand too. If you need someone to talk to your employees about digital literacy & productivity, this can be arranged.

Chris has a background in media & communication, HRM (postgraduate) and business negotiation.

She is partial to the pleasures of photography, open air music festivals, the works of Douglas Adams and silly puns about lions.

You can contact Chris for inquireries about consulting via email: chris [at] undercover-coaching.com, connect via Linkedin, follow on Twitter or if you have a great idea for a business venture that doesn’t suck, she might buy you a coffee in Copenhagen.

 

Solace for Sufferers of S.A.D

mindfulness 2 articles Aka the Nordic Winter Blahhs. Just because you’ve never heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD as its acronym is aptly known, it does not mean that it does not affect you, or someone you may know. Here are some of the tell-tale signs, followed by my personal top 10 remedies. In no particular order.
 

Does any of this sound familiar?

* You have been feeling progressively jet-lagged since the end of DST or even as early as the autumn Equinox, and you haven’t even been travelling that much. If even at all.

* You feel that you could quite happily simply hibernate until somewhere around early February. When the light starts to noticeably return.

* You’ve been counting down to Winter Solstice for a month, and you’re not even entirely sure what Solstice really is.

* You get up when work demands, but feel sluggish and unproductive for most of the day. So much tired. Come night time and your wakefulness oddly perks up. Now you can’t sleep. You wake up feeling irritable and slow.

* The first thought on your mind when you crawl out of bed, is how great it is going to feel when you get to crawl back under the covers again in 18 hours or less.

* Your level of tolerance for minor annoyances is lower than usual.

* You don’t seem to have much of an appetite, or you binge on unhealthy things in place of proper meals. “Oh I don’t need lunch, I had four glazed donuts and a bag of crisps, I’m good”. No, no you are not and you know it.

* You’ve been googling ”what are the signs of depression”.

* You’ve tried ”just going to bed on time”. To no avail. You just manage to stare at the ceiling for three hours before panic of not getting enough sleep sets in.

* You can be super-productive during the night. You manage to persuade yourself, that this is perfectly fine, totally normal and besides – nights are great for working undisturbed. Really getting things done.

Which is probably true. Problem is. While during the light season you can re-adjust to a more socially acceptable rhythm within a day or two.

During the dark months; once you’ve flipped the day around, you’re fucked. You’re flailing like a turtle on its back, with nobody around to get it back on its four tiny feet. Sucks.

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While some people seem mostly unaffected by the natural seasonal changes, some even appear to truly shine during Winter – others have it worse. Some have it really, really bad.

As with any ”disorder” what we’re looking at is a spectrum. Other factors may contribute to your overall lack of well-being, so be careful not to self-diagnose.

**IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER** I am not a licensed psychologist and I am in no place to give any medical advice in any way of form. The opinions expressed here are those of the author, and the suggestions given must not be taken as, or in place of, any officially approved medical professional advice.

That being said.
Here are my personal Top 10 remedies for dealing with SAD.
 

1. Walk – don’t run.

Trying to keep up with all the things you’re lagging behind on by attempting to run faster, is only going to give you burnout. Focus instead first on dealing with the cause, and the symptoms might just take care of themselves. OK so at least maybe some of them. Some of the time.

If you’ve gotten behind on important deadlines, that really is not good, but you won’t get back on top on things by trying to force yourself to be productive, when your mind and body is screaming for a reset.

Take a day to re-adjust. Re-estimate whatever schedule you have fallen behind on. If you think that you cannot afford to do this, it is safe to assume that you can much less afford to not.

If there is one thing I know for certain about SAD, it is how it can really mess with your ability to focus. You want to start with getting resourceful. Focus first on feeling good.

Start with accepting the premise, that during the ”season of SAD” you’re most likely not going to be firing on all cylinders, as it were.

Adjust your ambitions for this, and plan accordingly, as much as you possibly can. If you are self-employed, this might be easier, I admit. Unless the arrival of SAD tends to ambush you at the least convenient moment, because you have yet to realize that this might just be the problem.

I promise you, the longer you wait in dealing with the causes, the worse it is only going to get. So go relax. Reset. Regroup. Be resourceful.

And. If someone tells you that Seasonal Affective Disorder is ”not really a thing” or worse, that it’s ”just an excuse for lazy people to be lazy”. Tell them to go fuck themselves. They have no idea, or they live some place without noticeable seasons. Too bad for them, they never get to experience a sunrise at 4 AM or a sunset at midnight either.

Speaking of light.
 
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2. Light Therapy.

Since light-therapy units, or light-boxes, first appeared on the consumer market, prices have decreased massively. I strongly recommend anyone who suffers from SAD to get one of these things. Yes, they do work.

When you follow the instructions … Just because your 10.000 lumen lightbox just happens to double as a really neat little lightboard, it does not mean that it is a very good idea to be doing tracework drawing late at night on it. Before you know it, it’s four in the morning and you’re kinda back to square one. Lightboxes need to be used as regular as clockwork to have the desired effect. So keep this in mind, and don’t overdo the usage. Plus using lightboxes does have side-effects, most noticeably, they can give you massive headaches the first few times you use them.

You also want to make sure to adjust the screen brightness on your various Interweb devices, as this too can keep you massively awake during odd hours. I let the lights start to dim around 10 hours before I need to be up the next morning. This seems to work.

However, in my experience, light-therapy is rarely enough on its own. Maybe in mild cases, and it may be for you.

For me personally, light-therapy remedies the dark melancholy that arrives in the wake of the steadily diminishing daylight, but not the warped sense of circadian rhythm entirely.

I suspect this might have something to do with mostly living in an urban environment, where it never gets truly dark. Or, the fact that I do enjoy pulling a massive allnighter at the best of times, but that Winter just isn’t the best time to do this.

Or maybe SAD is just a thing that needs to be attacked on more than one flank.
 

3. Massive Sensual Overdose

Incense, scented baths, fresh flowers, branded bottled scent. Anything that does not smell like air freshener or laundry detergent.

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Dark heavy fragrances are perfect for cold weather. Just don’t over-spray, you don’t want to olfactory-assault your co-workers with Poison. If you work from home on the other hand, no need to worry about ”office appropriate” scents. You can splash away to your hearts content and walk around in a massive cloud of tuberose, patchouli, dirty Oudh or whales armpit if so you desire.

Or go for the more dry, green and crisp sensations, like Hermés Voyage; that someone close to me described as “reminiscent of peeling an orange on the deck of an ocean liner” – or you may prefer spicy marine notes like Dior Sauvage. That really smells nothing like I imagine Jack Sparrow would smell like in Blow – all I get is Aramis with a leather wristband – allthough I’m actually starting to rather like it. But I digress. The point is to appreciate the wonderful world of fragrance.

Perhaps you’ve been offered the advice of making sure you ”get enough exercise”. This one should. But mindless exercise is in my view almost as useless as no exercise at all. Trudging along on a hamsterwheel in a smelly gym, counting miles on a hamster-app, I have never understood, but that’s just me.

Whatever you do, whether it be running, swimming, cycling or fencing – make sure to engage in the activity with mindfulness. SAD is not avoided by simply flapping your arms. SAD is avoided by feeling happy. Indulging in sensual pleasure will help you do that.

But speaking of fresh air. Open the all the windows while you go for a walk outside. Sometimes the feeling of icy cold wind on your face is exactly what you need to wake up and smell the freshly brewed coffee.

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4. Sound

Music can lift your mood, but so can paying attention to everyday sounds. I recommend Julian Treasures excellent guide for listening better.
 

 
 

5. Embrace the Night

Since there is no point in trying to fight the near-constant absence of natural light, you might as well embrace it. Go for a long walk under the bright stars. If you can find a place with low light pollution, that is. Or marvel at the moon, when it is visible.

Check out what community observatory Slooh has to offer, in the way of exploring the Universe by gazing at the sky at night.

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6. Goodreads

The dark season is the season for deep introspection, reflection, letting go of the old, celebrate what is done, and being ready to embrace the new. I find these the most darkest hours of the dark season is good for letting new ideas begin to form.

Indulge yourself in a weekend of just not getting out of bed, and read all the books and articles you’ve been meaning to check out all year.

Reflect on what you have learnt the past three hundred and fifty-something days, and what you might like to learn during the next hundred or two.

Go “off the grid” for a day or two, reset your priorities. No need to wait until the ball drops at Dec. 31′th at Midnight for this.

 

7. Good food & Laughing out Loud

There is a reason why the ancient tradition of feasting on massive meals in the midst of winter has prevailed. Because it makes us less miserable. Well, ideally, anyway. If your family isn’t a bunch of total morons.

Make a point of eating well. Always important, but for those who suffer from SAD it is most crucial to engage all five senses to avoid the feeling of uncomfortably numb. Regularity of food-intake I am sure makes a difference too.

Good food, by the way – is NOT squishy, fatty, sugary things of the variety ”fast” or fizzy drinks with the word ”energy” stamped all over the can. If you’re already suffering from SAD, screwing with your blood-sugar levels is only going to send you over the edge in a bad way.

If you can combine good food with having good laughs with friends, obviously this is to be preferred. But if for whatever reason that is not possible, dare to have fun on your own. Seek out things that make you laugh in an inspired way. Entertainment does not need to be mindless.
 

8. Melatonin

If nothing helps to adjust your whacked out circadian rhythm, melatonin is there to help. The drug works by allowing you to be tired when you’re “supposed to” feel tired. And awake when it is time to be awake. For this reason it is sometimes prescribed as a remedy for insomnia. So it might seem counter-intuitive, that it can help you stay awake at your desk by day.

Melatonin can help you maintain a healthy circadian rhythm during those months where the available natural light provides you with these not terribly useful clues to when is day and what is night. That is to say – very few clues at all. Melatonin is also prescribed to frequent travellers to adjust for the kind of jetlag, that might otherwise take weeks to feel fully recovered from.

Consult your physician on this. Be sure to check the list of side-effects too. It might not be the right solution for you.
 

9. Acupuncture

If you don’t like the idea of pharmaceutical medication, there is a specific acupuncture practice that can help you restore a more balanced circadian rhythm. I would be cautious, however. There are many quacks in the acupuncture-business. Ask around for personal recommendation in your local area, if this solution appeals to you. Once you’re back to ”normal” you will need to maintain the balance by healthy living overall. There are no magic fixes, but there are things that can help you get back on your feet, if not thrive.
 
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10. Dance

Just dance. You may feel like you are dancing with two left feet, and that it is difficult and you feel awkward and you would much rather prefer a cheeky afternoon snooze. And that is perfectly fine.

Celebrate Solstice – or call it something else, find your own reasons to rejoice in the light that returns.

The natural seasonal rhythm is what is is.

You can fight it, you can flee from it, you can freeze in it – or you can dance with it.

I say dance with it. Life is here to be loved.
And this too, shall pass.

 

  • If you read this far – I assume you either enjoyed this post or found it marginally useful – you might like to subscribe to new post updates via email. Feedburner has a double opt-in, so don’t forget to activate your subscription if you do.
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About the author

CM.Cooper is the owner of undercover-coaching.com, a small private enterprise dedicated to improving life and how to love it. Chris has a background in media & communication, HRM (postgraduate) and business negotiation.

She is partial to the pleasures of photography, open air music festivals, the works of Douglas Adams and rather bad puns.

You can contact Chris for inquireries about personal consulting via email: chris [at] undercover-coaching.com, connect via Linkedin, follow on Twitter or if you have a great idea for a business venture that doesn’t suck, she might buy you a coffee in Copenhagen.

From where I stand

I am interested in how social media is used and how it works to promote happiness. Or not. If you have human friends, or work with human people, this ought interest you too.
 
If you use social media mainly for socializing, I am betting that you have found it difficult on more than one occasion to simply unplug. “Oh just – one more …”
 

5 minute read. LIX: 35. Wordcount: 1338.

 

What interests me is not so much how social media are massive real-time recommendation engines. Or how they can act as personalized news-channels. This they are, and that they do and both I find absolutely useful.
 

Consider the concept of a “newsfeed”.

If you find it difficult to not be looking at it constantly, and you can’t seem to stop constantly wanting to check your notifications. Knowing all too well, that this is getting a bit out of hand, and you really should cut down on your daily social media consumption.

Is it really the “news” in the newsfeed you are looking to feed on?

Actual breaking news items aside. Anyone who has ever glanced at their device at the exact second someone responded to a message, prompting an experience of perfectly synced dis-embodied communication, knows that the “news” is not really the point.

For a brief magic moment, you and the other are connecting in “real time”. Your awareness is touching the exact same point in virtual space for probably about 1/25 of a second.

You will want to have that experience again.

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And now it is gone. You can stare at that same message for the rest of the day, and maybe if it came from someone you admired, you could feel great about it for several hours, even days. But you know, that the moment itself has passed. If your attention stays on the device and the device is online, however …

When is it going to be done?

This may well be one of the many reasons why wombling about on your social media profiles, feels better right now than getting stuff done.

When is a “social media conversation” done for the day? When you need to catch a train and be on your way? There is a term for the skillfull design of our social media interfaces, that makes it an exercise in self-discipline not to get sucked into the spiral of “just one more ..”.

The term is “growth-hacking”. The goal is to get more users to post more content, and get more new users to want to get into the game. I recently learned, that Mark Zuckerberg had one question for all his employess, whenever an engineeer had a great idea. “How will it help us grow?” (Business Insider UK, 2016-03-11, Shana Lebowitz)

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Constantly connected?

When it is sometimes said of millenials and other aliens that they are “constantly connected”. Strictly speaking, that is not at all very accurate. Unless being constantly available is the same as connection. I don’t think it is.

Social media “connection” allows for a digital form of connected-ness. It is binary in structure. The information you send and receive is not flowing. It is a flicker of static bits of information.

You either like a post, or not. You either click on a link, or you don’t. You are either online = available for chatting, or you are not. You either send a message, or you don’t. Comment, no comment.

Compare with a conversation in meatworld. There are lots of things you can do, that are not in the least bit only either/or. Flirting for one thing. By definition, flirting is ambiguous. The second you both agree that it is “on” it is no longer just flirting, now it is something in addition to flirting.

But that it is “on”, and that you agree that it is (otherwise it actually isn’t, but of course you knew that already) does NOT mean, what “being on” means in binary world.

If something is ON, it cannot – by definition – also be not-on. It is either – or. When we’re talking things that are truly binary. Human interaction is analogue. Our synapses may be binary, but our minds are most certainly anything but. We’d be quite primitive creatures if they were. Look at any natural language (as oposed to programming languages), and try to make it conform to a binary standard of processing and understanding.

The concept of negation is a notoriously tricky construct to deal with in terms of “natural language processing”. Don’t believe me? Try performing a Google Image search with the natural language query “cats that are not black” and see what happens.

Flirting can never be “binary”. If it was, it would not be flirting. This is why people get confused and even frustrated over apps such as Tinder. Your initial communication may be either/or, that is sort of the whole point of the Tinder-game from what I understand – but what follows needs to be more than yes/no. And what if you meet up and realize that maybe? Confusing. Welcome to the real world. The part of it where people are human and communication is analogue. Because of course “online” is as real as anything else.

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Face-to-face communication is an infinitely more information-rich format of communication. I am not saying that it is “better”. It just is what it is.

If social media is like a strobelight, face-to-face communication is like a bonfire. Each have their purpose and some like it hot.

What we are trying to achieve by being constantly available, may have more to do with the desire to feel connected in sync, than we really like to admit.

Get too close to a bonfire, and yes you will get burnt. Looking at a recording of a bonfire is safe. And ultimately useless in terms of keeping you warm. There is also something delightfully primal about sitting close to a fire. Stand too close to a strobelight and you might have an eplileptic fit. Pretty sure it’s bad for your eyes too.

Because those instances of perfect sync are so rare, maybe people chase them – like chasing the elusive big win at the roulette tables. I don’t believe that “social media addicts” get “addicted to likes”.

I think it is the sense of sync that is the jackpot element, the Big Prize. True there is a validation component. The experience of knowing that you exist, because someone has confirmed your existence.

There is a reason why first-person point of view images are popular postings. I am talking about the kind of photo that gets hashtagged “fromwhereIstand” on Instagram.

If you ever wondered what was so cool about people posting pictures of their feet, the feet – obviously – are not the point. Unlike the selfie that says “look at me now!” the first-person POV-image says “look through my eyes”. Where the one invites to look AT, the other invites to look WITH.

Look at me, versus share my view.

The smartwatch can tap you gently on the wrist when you recieve a notification. I find this is as creepy as it is cool. Wearable tech is still in beta, but so far what we are dealing with are rather one-dimensional experiences.
 
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Unlike a warm sensual touch, or catching someones eye and feeling that brief sudden tingling rush of adrenaline when you recognize a mutually felt attraction/connection. The online-digital version does not provide us with the same clues as to whether or not our feelings are mutual.

This sets the bar very high in terms of the interpersonal communication skills required to use these technologies to deepen, maintain – nevermind create, meaningful relationships.

Whether they are professional, private; or more likely – somewhere in between. Human relations are human relations.

 

relationships 2 presence mindfulness 2 media literacy 2 articles

About the author

CM.Cooper is the owner at undercover-coaching.com, a small enterprise dedicated to improving the quality of living. Chris has a background in media & communication, sociology, HRM (postgraduate) and business negotiation.

She is partial to the pleasures of photography, open air music festivals, the works of Douglas Adams and rather terrible puns.

You can contact Chris for inquireries about personal consulting via email: chris [at] undercover-coaching.com, connect via Linkedin, follow on Twitter or if you have a great idea for a business venture that doesn’t suck, she might buy you a coffee in Copenhagen.

 

Step away from the strobe-light.

I took a fairly long break from online social a while ago, and all I can say is – do yourself a favour and TRY THIS. It is good for your overall level of sanity. Your level of productivity is likely to improve, if this is something you currently feel is lacking. In any case it will give you perspective.
 

20 minute read. LIX: 35. Wordcount: 4640.

 
In this post, I will share with you some of the perspectives I gained. With a little help from a few media theorists, a handful of severely inspired talks and a fair amount of curiosity.

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Now I have recently taken a liking to Twitter.

‘Tis a strange place, the Twitterverse. But the natives seem quite friendly and most appear to be a fair bit above average in overall levels of intelligence. So I might stick around for a while.

I did make a wrong turn the other day, and ended up on the angry MRA circuit. Quickly found my way home again, by using the hashtag #fuckunicorn as navigational vector.

It seems that this particular “social” medium provides the most edutainment value, in return for the least amount of noise.

Initially I had disregarded the stylized cartoon-bluebird as my daily go-to platform other than as a sort of personalized newspaper. Assuming that if I found the format of other mediums too fast-paced and fragmented, then surely a format of 140 chars would not even be worth considering. I was wrong. Twitter appears the least shady of the mainstream online-social mediums at the present. Meaning, it does not essentially pretend to be something it isn’t.

There is limited amount of options, in terms of what the average user can “do” within the app.

I like that.

Plus there is none of that privacy-theatrics to constantly monitor, since your profile is 100% public by default. Direct messages are non-public, but since they are limited to 140 chars too, they feel more like old-school SMS than anything else.

As in – how SMS used to feel like back when mobile phones were the size of bricks and would access the Interwebs in the same manner that a brick does not. Aside from the fact, that the content of your SMS messages, as far as I know, was not directly accessible to your telecommunications service provider. “Feels like” = not the same as.

“Private” is such an interesting concept in the age of social media. There is no such thing as a private social media profile. There are only varying degrees of access, some of which you get to explicitely accept.

Who “owns” your content is much less interesting than who has access to the personal social graph you are building by sharing that content.

Why you are sharing it in the first place, what you hope to achieve and what price you were willing to pay for the priviledge.

 

Syncing & live to stream.

When I scroll through the news “stream” on that tiny handheld screen known as the smartphone, what I am looking at, is a series of static images.

A flickering of thoughts, ideas, news, links to resources, more or less explicit invitations to engage with the content shared. Sometimes flickering in real time, other times not. But whether the tweet I am reading right this instant was posted 2 seconds or two months ago, it is still a static piece of communication. social relationships 2 presence mindfulness 2 media literacy 2 awareness seductive themes articles

However long or short the delay from the “real time” in which the person composing that tweet was, it is still a static reflection of a movement of thought. Such is the nature of the recorded written word. Such is the nature of photography. Such is the nature of video-recordings.

Livestreams? Less static than a still-photo, still more static than being there in person. The camera, determines your viewing angle. You never see what is behind the camera, unless you are there. Behind the scene.

So much of our online lives, if not to say – pretty much all of it, is made up of static images, flickering across devices, screens in and out of our minds.

Any video recorded with a frame-rate pr second at and above 24, our minds perceive as “live-action”. Drop to 15, and we start to perceive the recording as stop-motion.

Ever tried watching a video presentation where the sound is out of sync with the images? Even a half-second lag at the start of the recording, and the entire thing quickly becomes impossible to parse, as the soundtrack progresses nicely, the movements on screen lag progressively behind the voice recording.

If you recorded something using a 24 frame preset, but converted to the 25 frame standard upon exporting your edit. The images would lag, since that extra frame has to come from somewhere. You gain one extra frame – per second, and while 1/25 second may not sound like much – do the math. You’d soon know the difference on a hour long recording, even if you weren’t paying much attention to start with.

Intuitively, out-of sync video recordings annoy us. The reality of the illusion becomes visible. It is not supposed to be visible. It is supposed to appear as if, the sound and the image is coming from the same source. Even though in reality, it is not. It just appears that way, when our playback is in sync. Even the slightest out of sync, and the recording appears dis-jointed and weirdly unnerving. We get anstsy and impatient. Irritated. Too many unpredictable jump-cut blanks to fill out for the mind.

The illusion must not be too visibly an illusion, or we can’t accept the illusion as a virtual reality.

Otherwise it would be a bit like watching a shite street magician, whose hands are certainly not quicker than your eyes, and you’ve spotted the mirrors even before you smelled the smoke.

Out of sync VoIp conversations have the same effect on us. Badly compressed sound on VoIp when doing conferencing calls, is a whole topic on its own. If you often find yourself feeling mildly to severely annoyed when doing these things, or just feeling utterly exhausted from no more than a half hour meeting without knowing exactly why, bad sound-quality could well be the culprit.

Massively compressed sound through crappy laptop speakers, recorded through a bad mic in a room with horrible acustics, is enough to ruin anyones day. It’s like strobe-light for the ears.

All those static images, flickering across screens needs to appear as seamless as possible, for us to accept the illusion as recorded lived action. We may look at a series of still-photos from someone’s vacation, but we still fill in the blanks between those images. Whether we are aware of it or not. We still create our own storyline, based on the images available.

social relationships 2 presence mindfulness 2 media literacy 2 awareness seductive themes articles

I was listening to a presentation the other day, where the founder of Facebook said how he had wanted to create an online social network to to mirror the real world, social networks. I am not sure that algorithm-based stop-motion is the best way to do that. But maybe the user-perspective-experience is not really the point here.

 

Does social media “steal your time”?

In reality, social media usage does not stress us out because they move “too fast”. If you ever feel as if social media is a “time-stealer” it may well be due to the stop-motion like quality of the experience.

Even the fastest most rapid-response exchange of random small-talk on social media is painfully slow in comparison with the same exchange taking place in a syncronized shared physical space.

We do not percieve it that way, because we may be simulatenously engaged in several exchanges all at once. Except not really. We’re just switching between channels. This is how “just checking in” can suddenly become “whoooah .. is-that-really-the-time-goddammit-gotta-go ..”.

Sometimes, that is perfectly okay. If we’re on a tight schedule, and have to coordinate something in time for a deadline – usually not so awesome.

Recorded conversations warp time, as our perception of how time passes, is converted from one cognitive format to another.

This has clearly a lot of advantages. You need not be in the same physical location. You get that extra frame to be thinking about your response. Or just the time it takes you to type out the words you maybe did not think very much about. No matter how fast you type, it is likely still a fair bit slower than speaking.

That extra frame has to come from somewhere.

Images, static, that constantly appear and disappear in and out of our awareness. The ones that catch our attention as they appear to flicker past, may be examined in closer detail. We can pause a video. Stop to zoom in on a detail on a photograph, or simply hit share before moving on to the next. You don’t even really have to look at it for more than a few seconds, nobody will know the difference.

We may feel that we are somehow more in charge of that flickering, because we are engaged in a form of interactive media consumption. As opposed to sitting passively in front of whatever broadcast happened to be on TV.

I say this sense of control is as illusory as the photograph is only a frozen moment of a part of one perspective in time.

Just because a medium is “interactive” it does not mean, that you are the one who is in charge of how that interaction is shaped. No more than you would be in charge of what angle the director of a movie has chosen for a specific part of the storyline. On the contrary. The medium shapes the message, and by association, the way you interact within it, as well as without. Hashtag OMG.

Some prefer – or maybe it’s just habit – Facebook, or its professionally minded sibling, LinkedIn. These are less demanding mediums on one level, but profoundly more demanding on others. More noise for one thing.

I was talking to a teenage girl the other day who said she simply did not “understand” Twitter. I said that I did not understand Snapchat.

But interestingly, we both rather disliked Facebook. And for the same reasons.

She liked Instagram, like, a LOT – and gave me keen recommendations as to what beauty-bloggers were the best to follow there. Interestingly, on the beauty-blogger circuit (that’s make-up marketers for the un-initiated) the girls are all raving about this thing called “strobing”. It’s basically no more than the same makeup-artist method that used to be called “high-lighting”.

I find this intruiging. Even if you know nothing about makeup artistry – consider the wording. Strobing is a term you might know from liveanimation.

Why are the girls on Instagram making selfie-tutorials on “strobing”? How meta is this?

 

How the medium shapes the message.

I tend to write in shorter sentence structures when I take to the keyboard straight after having been active on Twitter. I like the way the medium limits my message. I can’t go off on long rants, bouncing to and from all manner of oddly shaped tangents.

This is what makes Twitter the near perfect medium for written witty banter. It can sharpen your wit, since the format prompts you to think in one-liners.

But it could also dull your senses to more tentative types of conversation. The kinds where sentences are not entirely thought through, and the value lies not in the perfect delivery, but rather the open-endedness of the ongoing cognitive process.

Twitter is a demanding medium in this way, and likely one of the reasons why other more long-form friendly mediums have overtaken in terms of number of users. You need to embrace the inherent strictness of format, to find any thrill in using it for other than news-updates.

You cannot be very nuanced in commentary, other than by direction attention to external sources that will fascilitate nuances in a debate. Pictures, possibly too. Even then. Questions posed will tend to be rhetorical. Not exclusively, but the format favours succinctness and on-point statements of opinion, short observations and of course, bits of breaking news.

Twitter is very much a “report-style” medium.

 

Hearting and starring in -

As of writing this, all major players in the social media platform industry appear to be competing for the same pool of power-users – trying out all manner of features that were unique to other platforms, not really getting, that no platform is going to be everything to everybody, and why in the name of Odysseus would that be a target to aim for. Seems counter-productive.

While Twitter appears to be aiming at snagging users from Instagram, LinkedIn from Facebook, Facebook from Youtube, Google+ seems to – … I have no idea what Google+ is doing. I suspect that neither do the good people behind Google+. Random thought: Google Minus. There’s an idea. It would be like all the other social sharing sites. Minus the bullshit.

On social media, users get what the medium was programmed for, and quite often we complain when we realize that our use is being programmed to do something other than we have become accustomed to. Because suddenly, we find our activity – our behaviour – being directed. Manipulated. And we have little say in the matter, because as everyone is all too well aware, the user really is not the customer.

But as long as we find the service provided even marginally useful, we all whinge about it for about a week, and proceed to adapt our behaviour to fit the new terms and conditions.
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Case in point. The “favourites” function on Twitter was recently renamed “likes”. And comes with a heart, in place of a gold star. The star-icon can be both a nod in agreement, a virtual high-five as well as a simple bookmark. It is delightfully ambiguous.

The heart on the other hand, implies a positive judgement, and as you might well be aware, this seems inappropriate in the event that you had grown used to using the “favourite” as a bookmarking function for links you just wanted to save for later. Especially news-stories, that may not at all be “likeable” in the least.

 

Moderation.

But regardless of what social media format you prefer and why.

Trying to master the fine art of deep and meaningful conversation, or just to learn everyday conversation by using social media, would be much akin to attempting to learn tango-steps under a strobe-light. It is not that it could not be done, it’s just that your learning curve might well look like a flat-lining EKG chart.

Strobelights are fun. When you’re in a nightclub or at a concert. I am sure you would not want to be at a nightclub 24/7. As with anything, all in moderation. You should also probably stay away from strobelights, if you suffer from epilepsy.

Plus, moderation – is essentially what your communication is subject to, whenever that communication has to conform to a specific set of rules, a specific format. It is a good idea to be aware of how the chosen format shapes, or moderates, your message. What it does to communication, when it is under the influence of constant moderation. How this is liable to shape the way you think about open-ended conversation. Your level of patience, for instance. Your sense of urgency in terms of responding.

Social media formats favour a lot of things. Open-endedness is not one of them. You might even think it a bit weird, if someone comments on a post, picture, an update you wrote last summer or continues a conversation you started last week.

But why, really? Because it is no longer valid, or just because it is no longer valid as “news /update”? Or because on some online-social mediums, your collected works of random brainfarts and curated links is called a “time-line”? Wouldn’t it be fun, if one could choose whether a social media post had a visible timestamp on it or not? Or if you had a function where you could “request timestamp” on a post, instead of it just being there by default? What would happen to our depth of creative sharing, if we stopped being so hellbent on “news”?

Is it really the “news” in the newsfeed we are looking to feed on?

Actual breaking news items aside. Anyone who has ever glanced at their device at the exact second someone responded to a message, prompting an experience of perfectly synced dis-embodied communication, knows that the “news” is not really the point.

social relationships 2 presence mindfulness 2 media literacy 2 awareness seductive themes articles

For a brief magic moment, you and the other are connecting in “real time”. Your awareness is touching the exact same point in virtual space for probably about 1/25 of a second. You will want to have that experience again.

 

Static, movement & flux.

The news-update focus may drive us away from depth. It flattens the territory, sometimes to the point where all we can see are random data-points on a map, losing sight of the landscape in the process entirely.

We sometimes do this, to maintain some level of overview in a vast field of shiny things that all go “ping”. In the words of Sherry Turkle – and I might be paraphrasing slightly – we consume each other in fragments, bits and pieces. How can we do otherwise, when we are sharing in bits and pieces. The medium shapes the message.

Again, this is not neccesarily a bad thing. I love a good cocktail-reception type party, watercoolertalk and shouting a bit about politics at a pub, and so should you. Just not 24/7.

Those who already have “good social skills” (whatever that means) are going to be fine. Those of us who can remember how awesome it was to send and recieve ones first – whoa .. email. I think we are going to be fine.

Those who feel at home everywhere, more or less. Sure there is too much of a good thing. Nothing that a week of “digital detox” a long walk and a bit of sensible reading can’t remedy. Because we know how a real connection is supposed to feel. Whether it be fascilitated through disembodied cyberspace, or someone we just sort of bumped into at a party. Doesn’t mean we always get it right, it just means that we’re going to be okay.

It’s the ones that never learnt how to make friends with strangers in a syncronized face-to-face space, I really worry about.

More adolescents today report having not one single close confidant, than ever before. Loneliness is no longer reserved for the über-weird and the magnificently gifted outliers. These are perfectly “average” youngsters. They have “friends” but no one to talk to.

How the hell did that happen? And more importantly. Are they going to be okay? Or will they take a wrong turn on the Interwebs one day, and not have a #fuckunicorn of their own by which to navigate back to sane-space?

social relationships 2 presence mindfulness 2 media literacy 2 awareness seductive themes articles

Newsflashes that are only allowed to shine brightly for a moment, before we look to the next shiny thing in the stream. We do this, because we have readily accepted the illusion of movement in a fundamentally static universe. Static, the endless flickering parade of pictures are just moving almost at life-speed speed, the channels switch really fast. Oh look, more static.

Which is an intriguing aspect when you think about it, given that so much of our existence consists of building illusions of stasis in a universe that is always in a state of flux.

This not something new that arrived with social media. The trajectory of fragmented media consumption can be traced to the invention of the remote control. Add a hefty dose of capitalizing on personal data, propelling forward the “need” to constantly update, constantly share – more static, smaller fragments, more noise, more whats’appening and less how the hell are you – and there is nothing to stop that massive empathy-gap trainwreck from crashing through the soundbarrier of sane.

Except coming to your senses. Stop accepting the madness.

Watching someone dance under a strobelight is a mindfuck. You know, when movements under the strobe-light are fluid, the perception of stop-motion movement is due to the nature of stroboscope lighting. Not neccesarily because the person dancing, is doing so in a robotic manner. After a while, you start to feel dizzy and possibly a bit nauseous too. It is such an overload of missing information.

Social media consumption, even in small doses, can make us feel oddly disjointed, fragmented, dis-connected. If that is our primary/ main source and channel of communication.

You cannot possibly fill in all those blanks, all that missing information. Even if you tried, it would be an exercise in absolute futility.

This need not be a problem, as long as you are aware of the problem. As long as you understand the “stream” of news as on/off bits of information. Digital media communication is just that. The opposite of analogue.

Much like the digital clock, that does not provide you any clues as to how much of the present minute that has already passed, unless you have a counter that gives you the seconds.

Most digital time-telling devices will show you the time 10:44 for a full 60 seconds, and if you think this is irrelevant, you never managed to make it to a closing gate in 00:01:55. Knowing that you would, and making your digital watch-wielding companion break out in massive panic, while you were not in the least in any visible state of stress. You can easily walk 50 metres in 55 seconds. Amble, even. As an example, obviously, I would never recommend cutting ones departures that close. But you get the idea.
 

Understand what you are looking at.

If we think of digital communication as if it were analogue, or indeed think of analogue communication as if it were digital, we get into trouble. There is a mis-match between what we think we are looking at, and what we are actually looking at.

Dare to step away from the strobe-light – dare to disconnect from the constant flickering stream of static news and noise, at least for a while.

Then, come back with the insight you gained from daring to be present where you are, now. See what difference it makes to the way you use these media. How you interact, when, with whom and why.

 

News-source or virtual cocktail party?

It can be both. Deep and meaningful conversation, it is rarely. Those tend to happen outside of the medium. I say it is best, if they are not all in your own mind, but happen as shared experiences with others. Preferably in person – embodied – and/or within syncronized time.

Social media sharing is an asyncronous form of communication. No matter how short the delays from ping to ping-back. It is disembodied by default. This is both their power as well as their potential pitfall.

Their power, because it allows us to warp our sense of chronos to better suit our physical here-now moments. If I ping you through a static recorded text-medium, now – you can ping back whenever you please. It is not like a face-to-face conversation, where any pause longer than a few minutes before responding to a question would seem somewhat strange.

Their pitfall because unless you understand that power, it is likely to break your sense of being here-now.

social relationships 2 presence mindfulness 2 media literacy 2 awareness seductive themes articles

Fully. In the present moment. Not the one that just passed or the one you are waiting for.

“Did she get my message? Why has she not responded yet? Will she respond? Has she been online yet? What will she respond, and if then this, then that, what if then – “. You know how that goes. It can drive even the most sensible people nuts at the best of times. On both ends, I might add. Ever been hiding from obvious online activity because you were in the process of composing the perfect reply, and you did not want someone to think that you were avoiding them? And you were constantly getting disrupted by all manner of “urgent” messages, and then suddenly your perfect reply would no longer be perfectly timed, and it ended up in drafts, never to be sent? Or pretened to be busy, when in reality you were staring at your device every second minute, on the minute?

The fact that responses CAN be immediate, means that we no longer have the privilege of relaxing from what we percieve to be a constant expectation of immediacy. Unless we make an active decision to do so.

Just because one COULD respond immediately, does not mean one has to.

Just because there are several someones online that could be seeking your attention, right now, does not mean that this is where your attention absolutely NEEDS to go.

You could also spend five minutes just observing the sky. Look around. What do you see? Where are you? What is going on, there – here. This moment? Share that, if you feel this would brighten someones day, or inform, or inspire – but don’t share just because you need to be reminded that you exist. That is what mirrors are for. Your digital devices need not be mirrors. They can be windows. And doors. Or bricks. If you’re doing things wrong. Or so I have been told …

It is also likely to make you feel awkward in face-to-face conversations – you can’t go and google that weird word I just used, before drafting out a witty response. But then that conversation would not be recorded, so if you happen to drop an off key comment – …

It’s already gone. Or we’d build on it, play with it, together. See where it could lead. Possibly. Maybe. That is open-endedness. Uncertainty. The good kind, the kind that rhymes with creativity. Not impossible on social media – just slightly more challenging to achieve. Requires more effort. Attention. Presence.

The beauty of a recorded message, is that you can go back in time and revisit the experience. Reflect further.

The beauty of face-to-face conversations, is that they are ephemeral and private by default. I fail to see how one would ever really program a “social app” for something that by definition is created by being present in the moment.

In my view, that would be like trying to figure out how to create a method for writing letters that self-destructed the second you had read them, but no sooner. Or a video recording, that you would have to be present on a specific location on a specific time to view, and if you were not – the recording would simply self-destruct before it could have been seen.

What would be the point in that? That’s just like an old-school television broadcast before VCR, except with lower production costs.

social relationships 2 presence mindfulness 2 media literacy 2 awareness seductive themes articles

But then I do suppose there is some value to be found in the dis-embodied aspect of ephemeral social apps. I am just not entirely sure, that I fully understand what that is. I get why it makes sense to unsync time and message. I also get why it makes sense to unsync location from experience. But what do you get when you dis-embody the message and the medium, but the time-space where the message exists stays in sync with here-now?

If not an oddly urgent sense of disembodiment? If it takes two to tango, how many users does it take to change the pulsations on a strobelight? Or perhaps we should be directing our attention to what is going on behind the camera and who is in the seat of the director? For that, one needs to step away from the stage light. Strobe or no strobe.

Social media technologies can certainly serve to connect. They can and they do. But you can only ever really operate under the terms, conditions and rules of what these services are programmed for.

Question is.

Do you know what your favourite social media technologies are programmed for, or are you still operating under the misguided assumption that you are the core customer? I know that you know, that you are not.

You know, how the business models that structure the social powergrid of the social media consumption-scape are based on the premise, that you will share, because you care. The more you care, the more value holds the shares. To the shareholder, there are no redundant posts on social media. The value rests not on the quality, but in the numbers. You know, how your “newsfeed” is not essentially there, for you to feel liberated, connected or happy. It is there, for you to care about.

But have you considered what difference it makes? In reality? In your relations? The ones you might like? Future or past present?

As of – now?

 

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About the author

CM.Cooper is the owner and chief improvement officer at undercover-coaching.com. Chris has a background in media & communication, HRM (postgraduate) and business negotiation.

She is partial to the pleasures of photography, open air music festivals, the works of Douglas Adams and silly puns.

You can contact Chris for inquireries about personal consulting via email: chris [at] undercover-coaching.com, connect via Linkedin, follow on Twitter or if you have a great idea for a business venture that doesn’t suck, she might buy you a coffee in Copenhagen.

Because you’re worth it.

”It’s all about starting the conversation” he says. ”Great conversion scores, you understand, is all about conversation”. He should know. The guy is a social media expert. We’re at a snazzy conferencing centre in [undisclosed location].

There is branded bottled water, wall to wall carpeting and a clear view of a painted wall. The conference was free. We paid for attendance with our attention and bits of personal information. You know how that means that you will get the first 20 specially tailored offers from ”our partners” in your inbox before the talk is over. It’s okay. This is all part of the ”conversation”. The – conversion conversation that is.
 

Social applications.

If you enrolled in a university level course on Conversation Analysis, thinking it would be all about how to convert customers into raving fans, you might be in for a disappointment. If you want to read “Reclaiming Conversation – the importance of Talk in the Digital Age” because you think it will somehow help you “leverage social media conversation”, I am pretty sure that is not what you will get out of it either.

But if you want to give a teenager you know a birthday present that is not “smart”, this book might actually make that teenager smarter, in the best sense of the word. If you would rather ping someone repeatedly over Facebook than pick up the phone and just talk – this book might be a good place to start too.

If your teenager is trying to figure out how the “dating game” works.

Give them this book. [Disclaimer: This is a personal recommendation, and the links are not affiliated]

social relationships 2 personal leadership mindfulness 2 media literacy 2 articles

  • Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, Penguin Press (2015).
    ISBN 978-1-594-20555-2

If you are recently divorced, just broken up or never been partnered for long, but not for lack of wanting – and trying to figure out “how dating works in the digital age”. Remember that dating is just another form of conversation. The goal is not to “convert prospects” through an app.

The goal of dating is to get to know someone. We achieve this, through conversation. I don’t care if you use the term dating as a polite euphemism for “hooking up”. It’s still conversation. Some conversations just happen without clothes. Or words for that matter. Flirting is what happens, when conversation is embraced. Flirting does not need to have some sort of measurable end-goal, when the goal is flirting itself. Dare to play for no other reason.

Trying to master the fine art of deep and meaningful conversation, or just to learn everyday conversation by using social media, would be much akin to attempting to learn tango-steps under a strobe-light. It is not that it could not be done, it’s just that your learning curve might well look like a flat-lining EKG chart. Strobelights are fun. When you’re in a nightclub for instance. I am sure you would not want to be at a nightclub 24/7. As with anything, all in moderation.

 

Removing the goal-posts.

Is there anything wrong with using the term conversation in relation to sales, marketing and promotion?

Better question: Is there anything wrong with viewing conversation as IF the sole purpose of the activity was like doing sales, marketing and/or promotion? Depends on how you view the essence of sales-work. If you equate sales-work mainly with sneaky tactics and ”persuasion” – then yes. That might be a problem. For obvious reasons, I hope.

Can a “[sales] conversion conversation” be open as well as honest? I suppose that depends too. On the product, on the vendor, on the nature of the problem the vendor is suggesting the product will fix.

But essentially, the point of a “conversion conversation” is to convert. Therefore, it is difficult to argue that such a conversation is ever truly open. If it were, it would have to break the first rule of good sales-work. Knowing your desired outcome. Setting a specific set of goal-posts. And structuring all aspects of your communication towards it.

We call it “goal conversion”, when there is a specific action we want a visitor on a website to perform. If one of my desired outcomes in posting an article, is to get you – the reader – to sign up for my next workshop on communication. I would make sure, that the link containing the invitation is where you can easily find it. There would be no sense in concealing it.

If a vendor wanted to get “the conversation started on Facebook”, they could suggest that you “like our page on Facebook”. The vendor could post something there for you to comment on. Hoping that your friends, followers and the page’s fans will see it. And “join the conversation”.

There is an entire industry devoted to cracking the big secrets on Best Times to Post, how to Get More PageViews and how to Get More Shares. Which unfortunately generates an entire subset of marketers whose sole purpose appears to be leveraging the finer aspects of how to annoy the crap out of people who join a social network platform mainly to socialize.

And we accept such trade-offs, as long as the service we are buying is still marginally useful to us. Or we install an adblock, thinking that by making the obvious marketing invisible, means it no longer influences our decisions.

social relationships 2 personal leadership mindfulness 2 media literacy 2 articles

To paraphrase media theorist Douglas Rushkoff; we are all trojans of marketed information. It’s okay. It’s how the digital marketplace works. I don’t mind spreading the word on products and services that I would use, am using or considering using personally. I am betting that you don’t either.

Heck, I just promoted a book I have yet to read myself. Based on what I think I already know about what the author in question is promoting. Sherry Turkle is an esteemed professor from MIT, I loved her TED talk, and “Alone – Together” (2011) as well as “Life on The Screen” (1995).

I am fairly confident in assuming, that “Reclaiming Conversation” is not some pop-life manifesto or a selection of baseless claims dressed up in buzzword dressing. In other words, I fully trust professor Sherry Turkle.

But who has the time to really stop and check, if this or that vendor really is who they say they are? If an author really has the credentials they say that they do? If their motives are what you perceive them to be? If their values are even remotely decent? If their ideas are both useful and sensible?
 

Do we care?

When so much of our communication is consumed in fragments anyway, who cares if we would want the sender of said message among our actual friends? Who cares, if the person behind the message is someone you would trust to take care of your kids for the afternoon?

After all, the sender is not the message. The message is the message. But can we really separate the messenger from the message? Should we? Can’t we simply cherry-pick the stuff that we like, and just ignore the rest of the tree?

Does it matter? If the product is “free”?

Sharing a link certainly does not cost anything.
Well. Depends on how you define “cost”.

Conversation is free. Conversions are not.

Reclaiming Conversation.

Yes, please. Let’s.

social relationships 2 personal leadership mindfulness 2 media literacy 2 articles

Links: There is a rather good review of “Reclaiming Conversation” on Nytimes.com and another in The Washington Post.

social relationships 2 personal leadership mindfulness 2 media literacy 2 articles

 

  • If you read this far – I assume you either enjoyed this post or found it marginally useful, you might like to subscribe to new post updates via email,
    sign up for my newsletter – or both.

 

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About the author

CM.Cooper is the owner and chief improvement officer at undercover-coaching.com. Chris has an academic background in communication, HRM (postgraduate) and business negotiation.

She is partial to the pleasures of photography, open air music festivals, Douglas Adams and puns about manatees.

You can contact Chris for inquireries about personal consulting via email: chris [at] undercover-coaching.com, connect via Linkedin, follow on Twitter or if you have a great idea for a business venture that doesn’t suck, she might buy you a coffee in Copenhagen.

 

The Transparency Illusion

On my reading list this month: No One Understands You and What To Do About It; Halvorson, Heidi Grant (2015).

From the excerpts here it looks like it might be worth a good read.

“Chances are,” Halvorson writes, “how you look when you are slightly frustrated isn’t all that different from how you look when you are a little concerned, confused, disappointed, or nervous. Your ‘I’m kind of hurt by what you just said’ face probably looks an awful lot like your ‘I’m not at all hurt by what you just said’ face. And the majority of times that you’ve said to yourself, ‘I made my intentions clear,’ or ‘He knows what I meant,’ you didn’t and he doesn’t.”

Sound familiar?

Now whether Halvorsen mentions how rudeness in social situations is often indistinguisable from shyness, I won’t know until I’ve actually read the book.

conversational mastery 2 articles
Try though you might to come across in a certain way to others, people often perceive you in an altogether different way.

To Halvorson, a social psychologist at Columbia Business School who has extensively researched how people perceive one another, this captures one of the primary challenges of being human.

I am inclined to agree. The more I study interpersonal communication and all the ways in which we can – and do – fail to adequately understand each other, the more it amazes me how we ever manage to connect at all.

Perhaps it makes one all the more appreciative of truly meaningful conversations. The kind where you find yourself heard for who you are. If you think this is rare, it is probably because it is.

We sometimes think, that “being honest” and “speaking ones truth” (whatever that means) will ensure that we are being fully understood by the other. That if and when your intensions are clear to you, they must by definition be clear to others.

But our communication is never transparent. Our intensions are never clear. Our motives are often not even fully thought through.

So next time you feel frustrated and confused because you can’t seem to get an “accurate read” on someone? Know, that you are not alone. It’s part of what it means to be human.

Link: “Mixed Signals: Why People Misunderstand Each Other” in The Atlantic.
conversational mastery 2 articles

 
 

conversational mastery 2 articles

About the author

CM.Cooper is the owner and chief improvement officer at undercover-coaching.com. Chris has an academic background in communication, HRM (postgraduate) and business negotiation.

She is partial to the pleasures of photography, open air music festivals, Douglas Adams and silly puns about lions.

You can contact Chris for inquireries about personal consulting via email, connect via Linkedin or if you have a great idea for a business venture that doesn’t suck, she might buy you a coffee in Copenhagen.

 
 

Being in Love With a World of Words …

sensuality seductive themes presence playfulness passion awareness seductive themes articles She .. is a dancer. Moves with grace and poise. He – is stumbling for the right words, and never gets a chance to say. What? Continue reading

How do you change a pattern of behaviour?

personal leadership fast forward fridays awareness seductive themes articles advanced Sometimes that just happens. Progress. Improvement. Other times you may need to adjust. Do more of what works, and less of what doesn’t. And nevermind the bollocks.

But whatever is true for you, I am sure that there are plenty of areas in your life, where you might want to feel confident, that there are better choices available to you than the ones you are living at the present.

Today, I am going to share with you a simple method for uncovering your own personal power and resources, whenever there is a pattern of behaviour that you want to change for the better.

personal leadership fast forward fridays awareness seductive themes articles advanced

 

I would like to invite you to think about this for a second:

 

  • How DO you change a pattern of behaviour?

Or, if you like:

  • How do YOU change a pattern of behaviour?

If you start out by telling me about this thing, you want to “change this now” or “want to work on doing this better”, one of the things I want to know, is the level at which you consciously aware of how changes happens, naturally.

Either as a result of external parameters, as a result of internal motivation or a combination of the two.

The Only constant …

So for instance, I might ask you to think about the last time, something outside of yourself, caused you to change something. Maybe you can think of something that interupted you in what you had planned to do. Maybe you can think of something that prompted you to change the way you perform a series of actions. How you think/feel about something in specific, or how you overall feel about yourself, others or just life in general.

Did you simply respond with a change of direction, without thinking too much about what the “right” choice of action would be? Or, did you consider a variety of options, before making your “final” choice of direction?

If you are reading this right now, and following along by considering your answers to these questions, chances are, that you would say “well, that depends …”

Some changes in our lives, are so massive and important, that we feel as if we NEED to really stop and consider, which way we want to go. Consider the direction, that keeping on doing what we “usually do”, or doing something different, is likely to move us in.

personal leadership fast forward fridays awareness seductive themes articles advanced

Other times, our responses are more or less “automatic”.

If for instance you notice someone lying in the middle of the street, in the dead of night, at an odd sort of angle and a car is speeding off into the distance – you probably wouldn’t stop to consider any other options than whether or not you can remember how to perform basic CPR. And whether your phone has enough charge for you to call 911.

Would this be considered a “massive life-changing event”? Well for the person who depends on your automatic response to receive first aid and get to the nearest hospital, certainly, there would be the potential.

Other changes in our lives, may seem small and relatively insignificant at the time. They may even pass un-noticed, at the time. But then, looking back, you realize that it is often the smallest changes that can truly make the largest impact.

Let’s say that maybe, from now on and forward, you decide that you want to be fully present wherever you go. You may decide, that when you are walking on the street, you want to really notice your surroundings.

Instead of sheep-walking with your nose pointed firmly at the display of your smartphone, to see how many friends have “liked” your latest brainfart on facebook.

Or maybe you decide, that texting while you drive, needs to stop.
 
 
personal leadership fast forward fridays awareness seductive themes articles advanced

A little adjustment goes a long way

Small changes that are easy to implement, are usually not the kind of changes that a person would decide to hire a coach to assist in working on. However, the above mentioned examples of relatively small changes, are good examples of the kinds of things I might suggest a client to start doing.

Or, as in the latter example – stop doing. Texting while driving or excessive social media addiction, may well be parts of a larger pattern.

Maybe you feel as if you “never have enough time”, or that you find it difficult to “meet people”. When you do manage to meet people, it’s a challenge to “know what to say”.

Well, if you stopped looking at who posted what on that two-dimensional “social media world” on constant display, and stopped to smell the roses instead – who knows, what kinds of interesting encounters you might find yourself in, as a direct result?

personal leadership fast forward fridays awareness seductive themes articles advanced

Who knows, what kinds of interesting things you would start to notice, right where you are. Things that one might well use as conversation starters. Or simply something to talk about, when the conversation has already begun.

Now when working on either a deeper issue, or an overall overhaul of how you are living your life – whether it is getting rid of “stress”, getting into better physical shape, being more healthy, getting over some silly social defense mechanism that has grown to become a “habit” – obviously it is very important that you feel encouraged by moving forward towards the right kind of goal/s.

It is important, that you know how to avoid mistaking surface goals for the real issue.

It is important, that you have a method by which you are going to be monitoring your progress.

And most importantly – you need to be willing to accept, that with most challenges, and certainly with all major changes of behavioral patterns, change does not happen in a linear fashion.

We are so used to visualizing and understanding progression in terms of like neat and tidy progress-bars …

personal leadership fast forward fridays awareness seductive themes articles advanced

… that it is easy to forget, that our brains are infinitely more complex than the binary code the human mind has invented.
 
Saying that you have “installed a new belief” is a metaphor. It might be a good one, in some cases. But that is ALL it is. Besides. If that new set of beliefs you have installed, doesn’t quite seem to work properly – where do you call for placing a complaint?

 
 

Changes in patterns of behaviour happens in cycles

(click on the image to enlarge)

personal leadership fast forward fridays awareness seductive themes articles advanced

 
Understanding how the process of any kind of deliberate change in behaviour works, how the structure of your progress is likely to unfold and proceed, is a key understanding in any kind of “changework”.

Not least because you will be EXPECTING that relapse will occur. It will not come as a surprise to you, when you realize that you have been “slipping back into old patterns”.

Instead, you can focus on maintaining the new habit of whatever it is, that you have been working on improving.

 

When your focus is on LEARNING …

You start to notice, how those relapses become less frequent, and feel much less severe, the less frequent they become. Because your focus is not on how rapidly you are moving towards your goal – your focus, is on learning from each step of the cycle.

Now when you think about what’s going on in your life, you may notice how you are on several cycles of change simultaneously. These cycles are most often not synchronized.

In some areas you are being led into change, while in other areas you are the person who is leading others into change.

Some changes seem to happen seamlessly, others require immense effort, focus and dedication.

Emotionally, cycles of change constantly moves you through a variety of experiences.

As you go through loss in one area of your life, you may be regaining hope in another. Mindfulness to the process is key.

And as you find yourself challenged in one area of your life, you may find that the strength that you need, can be found in an area that until recently, felt like an area in which you “needed to change this now.”

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    About the author

    CM.Cooper is the owner and chief improvement officer at undercover-coaching.com. Chris has an academic background in communication, HRM (postgraduate) and business negotiation.

    She is partial to the pleasures of photography, open air music festivals, Douglas Adams and silly puns about lions.

    You can contact Chris for inquireries about personal consulting via email, connect via Linkedin, follow on Twitter or if you have a great idea for a business venture that doesn’t suck, she might buy you a coffee in Copenhagen. Or at an airport somewhere.

     
     

    The 4 Key Positions of Super Natural Power

    Powerful men are more attractive than weak men. Would you agree? And would you like to meet women from a position of greater power? Would you like to connect with women from a strong position of personal, honest, super-natural power? If your answer is YES – read on.

    If you want to get straight to the point, you can skip my preamble and go directly to the first position of power: Purpose.

    But let me ask you a question. Do you need influence to have power?

    Think about it for a second.

    seductive themes purpose presence playfulness personal integrity passion awareness seductive themes articles advanced

    I am sure you have also asked yourself THIS question: What makes a person truly powerful?

    • Knowledge?
    • Status?
    • Money?
    • Influence?
    • All of the above?

    Maybe you have asked yourself how you might leverage the knowledge, status and influence you already have, to connect better with the women you truly desire. Hopefully, you did not spend all your money trying to figure it out. But you might have bought into the idea, that in reality, you need none of these parameters to “get hotter dates” or “get laid more often”. Which of course, is just good common sense.

    seductive themes purpose presence playfulness personal integrity passion awareness seductive themes articles advanced Now apart from the fact, that there is more to life than “getting laid”. Status, money and influence are all but external parameters that may well be the RESULT of being in a position of personal power. Results of doing what you need to do, in order for you to gain status/influence in a particular field.

    Status and influence is of any kind is the result of accumulating enough of whatever is the social capital in that particular field or “habitus”. Status and influence is never a given, it is never static and no matter what field you are looking at, you have to DO something to earn it. Fair enough, looks can provide you with a certain kind of status as well, and yes, some men did win the genetic lottery in terms of what general cultural consensus redeems “more attractive”. But you still need to work at maintaining those good looks, or they fade faster than a poorly tie dyed T-shirt in a pool of peroxide.

    And what good are great looks if you lack decent conversational skills? There is only so many years a man can rely on “club-game” and trawling sunny beaches for babes, you know.

    Being well-versed in the art of seductive conversation as well as mastering basic conversational skills, is indeed one seductive themes purpose presence playfulness personal integrity passion awareness seductive themes articles advanced valid way of increasing your sphere of potential influence. That could well be a gateway to higher status and/or higher earnings too.

    But perhaps you will want to ask yourself, what that increased level of influence is to be aimed at. Is it influence for the sake of influence itself? Or, do you want to get these skills to be able to connect BETTER with women? Would you like to be influential so that you could do more good things for more people who need a helping hand?

    What else is there, that you can do with influence?

    Money can be a given too, if you are lucky enough to be endowed with a huge trust fund or by magic fluke win a huge sum of it. When you’ve earned it, by smart and/or hard work. Avoided squandering it on silly things. Being financially wealthy can feel like a given too. Money is only one form of capital and some people are so poor, that all they have – is money. Poor sods.

    With money you can buy a lot of things. It can certainly buy you more influence and provide you with SYMBOLS of That others may admire, and that in return can provide you with a feeling of some form of power too. Some people will even say that money can buy you friends (although one might wisely doubt the quality of such friendships).

    But can money buy you personal power?

    The kind of power that makes you truly and super-naturally ATTRACTIVE to other people in general and women in specific? No, the kind of women who find you attractive only when you’ve got loads of cool cash do not count. OK, they do count, but mainly they count the number of nice things they can get from you, so lets just forget about those.

    Also, the old adage that money can’t buy you happiness – only fools tell you, that being lonely and miserable in comfort is better than not being lonely and miserable at all. Although money does matter, and only those who have never been in dire financial straits will tell you otherwise – you cannot heal a broken heart with golden coins.

    But you can heal a broken heart. With power.

    A truly powerful person is never miserable and hardly ever lonely. True personal power is what comes from within your inner balance. Think about it. It is not the other way around.

    Influencing people can indeed give you a feeling of power, that may be very real too – but it is still the superficial, externally validated-based kind of power. It rests on the existence of those influenced. You can’t sit alone in your basement void of contact with the external world and influence other people. No, a correspondence course in telepathy is probably not going to change that reality anytime soon.

    Personal power, on the other hand, is independent of external validation.

    I am sure you have heard this before. Abundance mentality is attractive. In that sense, being in a position of power is a product of something deeper.

    That, which you need to cultivate first. If you ever feel miserable and lonely – focus on getting back your inner balance. Forget about reading more material on how to win friends and influence people, how to get a girlfriend or how to get more “game”. Get – resourceful. Get aligned with your own resources of personal power. Sometimes we need strong support in doing so, and if this is true for you, my personal consulting services may be the right solution for you.

    Now, without further ado, and asuming you’re still with me – let’s look at these four key positions of POWER I announced in the headline.

    1. Purpose.

    Aka being on a mission, being visionary – to have a vision. Do you have a strong purpose in life? No, being fiercely dedicated to getting laid does not count. Neither does being fiercely dedicated to mastering game (whatever that means).

    None of those “purposes” will place you in the category of people who show up in the world with a strong base of personal power. Which means your level of attractiveness might not be exactly where you would like it to be. You know how so?

    Because wanting to GET something from others, places you in – what position? You guessed it. A needy one. Last time I checked, being needy and being powerful was on opposing ends of a scale. Let me just check again. Yup – they still are.

    Now having a strong sense of purpose immediately places you in a position of personal power, quite different from the pretend-power of wanting to master the game.

    seductive themes purpose presence playfulness personal integrity passion awareness seductive themes articles advanced When you have purpose in life, you are centred.
    When you are on a mission you are focused.
    You allow only nothing to get in your way.

    You would never waste your precious time trying to figure out if someone “likes you” or not. It’s nice if they do, but at the end of the day, you know it is not what really matters on the grander scale of things. All you are interested in, is whether or not this person you are in the process of getting to know, is even remotely on the same page as you. Could they be part of your personal mission or not?

    You screen for core level resonance, and when it does not appear to be present – you move on.

    No hard feelings, no worries.  Simply on to greater things.

    You know, that the more time you spend with people who are either not capable or unwilling to explore the path you are on, the LESS time you will have to explore your chosen path with the ones that DO share the same sense of purpose.

    And there aren’t an infinite number of those people around either. Common sense will tell you, that there is a very finite limit to how many new people you can manage to meet on a daily basis. Best to not waste too much time on dead end relations. Now if this sounds a bit harsh to you. Well ,  I do supose that it is. There is a trap of course, and that trap is called … tunnel vision. And you want to make sure, that your purpose is properly defined.

    It depends on what this purpose of yours actually is. Is it a narrow focus or a broader scope. Is it multi-faceted or a singular beam of direction. One is not necessarily better than the other, but take a moment every now and then to examine and reflect upon your focal points and perspective.

    Either way, I think you can see the difference between being on a mission of compassionate purpose and simply wanting to “get some”. I know, you can see what difference it makes to your personal appearance – and lets not forget your level of attractiveness – where you are on that “scale” of personal power.

    You can still have fun with people you have little in common with. Of course. But you are perfectly fine with those brief encounters being just that. You can part on good terms, when you avoid having any deeper investments to begin with. Your level of expectation is not set to the kind of unrealistic high, that no real woman could ever live up to.

    And most importantly – you can afford to be honest, when all you are interested in, is a bit of fun fooling around, and nothing more than that. You can afford to be honest, when you are interested in more than a few nights of naked horizontal tango too.

    seductive themes purpose presence playfulness personal integrity passion awareness seductive themes articles advanced Do you see how THIS is the kind of energy that fluffy hatters will try to emulate, by telling you to never be too invested in a woman? I think you can. But as usual in these matters, the fluffy hatters get a good thing just those few degrees off centre.

    Of course you don’t want to planning the details of future co-habitation the second some nice girl agrees to meet you for a cup of coffee. But pretending you don’t care about being rejected by someone you might have started to consider actually caring about is just plain stupid.

    When you care mainly about where you want to go, you focus on attracting the kind of woman who will want to join you on your journey. Yes, that means you will find yourself thinking about a woman in terms of her personality, her dreams, goals and ambitions more than what she looks like.

    You find yourself having the purpose of getting to know a woman, before you start to consider whether or not she is “into you” or not.

    Imagine how much easier it becomes to prepare for a date …

    Imagine how immensely more confident you will both feel AND appear.

    Men who embody what “pick-up artists” call natural game” often have that sense of personal power, based on a strong sense of purpose. Not always, but often.

    Which means, that from the outside looking on – it may SEEM as if, all this guy is doing is “not caring”, not being “invested” or the favourite phrase: “being indifferent to the outcome”. Blech.

    In reality, this seemingly “indifferent” approach to new encounters is nothing but the natural by-product of having a life worth living and a keen sense of wanting ideally to spend his time only with the ones who actually GET IT.

    2. Playfulness

    OK, so what if you have not yet quite figured out what your personal mission in life is?

    What if, you still need to find that source of personal passion and profound dedication to solving some great puzzle, problem or serving a greater cause?

    What if you still have a job you hate and live mainly for the weekends, still wishing you could find some other source of income that would not suck – and you could join the ranks of those fortunate people who have no clear division between work and play?

    Well, honest playfulness is another immense resource of personal power, another key position of powerful attractiveness, and here is how:

    Are you creative and curious about how things work? Do you have that playful attitude towards life that enables you to LEARN from your mistakes? Do you insist on maintaining a light-hearted attitude when faced with adversity?

    Are you what one might call “young at heart”, no matter what year is on your birth certificate?  Do you like to try and see the comedy in bad situations and make other people smile in the rain? Do you have a keen sense of wanting to explore for the sake of exploration itself?
    Do you like to make random moves to see what happens when you travel light with no fixed itinerary on your mind? Do you like to talk to random people simply for the sake of having fun? Do you enjoy making people smile?

    Do you like the thought of making at least one persons day just a little bit brighter – just by being open and curious about who they are?  Can you talk to almost everyone about anything, and do you enjoy doing so? And …

      • Do you know how to enjoy flirting JUST for the sake of flirting?

    Do you view the fine art of seductive conversation as nothing more than a way of exchanging energy with another human being – with or without the possible pleasure of getting physically intimate as a result?

    3. Presence.

    If you are a little shy around other people in general and perhaps even women in specific, the thought of that exuberantly playful and extrovert way of being playful and talking to everybody about everything, may not feel completely natural to you. Some people are naturally more introverted, introspective and value being immersed in solitude activities.

    seductive themes purpose presence playfulness personal integrity passion awareness seductive themes articles advanced But introverted or not – you can still be in a position of super-natural personal power, when you are out there in the world attempting to make new connections or maintaining the ones you already have.

    Having a strong presence means simply that.
    The ability to BE present. Attentive to every detail in the moment as they pass.

    The power of being present is both vastly underestimated, as well as being often quite misunderstood in terms of what that really means.

    Being present, means to be able to shut up and listen.

    It means to be completely comfortable with silence.

    It means having all your senses on hyper-alert. It means to allow yourself to actually FEEL the elements around you. Being present, is what enables you to understand what learning sensual language is all about. You can weave wonderful words in and around each other, from simple everyday experiences, to share your appreciation for life. Yes, that is indeed a both rare AND attractive quality to have.

    Presence means being HERE – NOW.
    seductive themes purpose presence playfulness personal integrity passion awareness seductive themes articles advanced

    4. Passion.

    In passion is where all the elements of purpose, playfulness and presence come together and form a personal base of power that is infinitely stronger than any “fake-it-’till-you-make-it” pre-scripted plastic persona will ever be able to provide you with.

    Really, it is about compassion.

    As in – passion WITH. And when you think about it. Compassion is what enables you to find that one true purpose in life in the first place.

    Essentially – life is pain and life is suffering. Yes, that is the good news. Because it means, that whenever you feel pain, whenever you suffer. You realize, that this does not make you special in any way or form. It also means, that you are not alone.

    Compassion, is what enables you to be open and honest with the women you encounter.

    seductive themes purpose presence playfulness personal integrity passion awareness seductive themes articles advanced Compassion, is the all-pervasive intelligence that forms the fabric of what truly attractive men are made of. Real men. The men, that immature morons in silly hats choose to label “the naturals”. As if, men with passion, purpose, playfulness and the ability to be truly present where somehow a separate species of human to themselves.

    When in reality, it is nothing more than a question of understanding your own true nature as a perfectly ordinary human being.

    The ability to keep a balance between being serious and silly – to be focused on a goal and to enjoy the journey along the way. The intelligence to see with kindness, compassion and clarity.

    This is what makes a perfectly ordinary man an extra-ordinary encounter. Far from a “super-hero”, but indeed very much a super-natural. Those are the men, who are truly attractive to women. These are the men, who have that elusive “choice and variety”.  Not because they seek it, not because they know some secret stealthy method that you do not – but simply because they choose to seek power WITH. As opposed to “power OVER”.

    Think about it. When you realize, that you are infinitely powerful within your self – there can be no reason to try to “outgame” anyone. Least of all, the women you meet and find attractive. When you know, that nobody can take away your personal power, because your base of power is exactly that – personal.

    What is there to be gained from controlling others for the sake of control itself?

    Only a weak man is afraid of “powerful women”, because only a weak man has yet to understand what true power really is. Only a weak man will ever seek to get a woman down from her perceived “pedestal”. A real man knows that these so-called “pedestals” exist only as a figment in the imagination of quite silly adolescent momma’s boys. With or without the fluffy hats. Only a weak individual will seek to gain power OVER others.

    Strong individuals seek to gain power with. We seek to form mutually beneficial alliances. Not seek dominance for the sake of exploitation and control. A real man, seeks to empower the women he meets.

    This is the essence of Mindful Masculinity.

    The ideal, an embodiment of the Mindful Male. He is generous, in a rather different sense of the word, than the man who thinks that money can buy him anything other than a free lunch and a few nice cars.

    Well, that and a few good programmes or books on personal development and such (hint hint) but you get the idea. Even then, it’s the energy, focus and dedication you put into making those methods work for you that provide you with the insight and improvement, not the cash that you spend on acquiring them.

    If your life sucks because you are convinced that it would be better “if only”, I can safely promise you that no amount of “dedication to mastery” will ever make up for lack of a basic, loving-kindness appreciation for LIFE ITSELF. But this you already knew. I assume, that I am preaching to the choir here …

    5. Synergize your Self

    Passion, purpose, playfulness and presence. From each of these four positions of power, you realize that focusing on creating “win-win” scenarios and effects of synergy, is much more rewarding and fun than pretending you have some sort of “cool lifestyle” or pretending that you can provide a woman with being an ideal of something you could never actually live up to.

    Instead of trying to create the illusion of something that is not, you can quite comfortably be who you are, being with what is.

    You can relax and focus on what is real. You can experience synergy of power, in the relationships you form and with the women you connect with. Whether it is long-term, brief encounters or something in between.

    You understand this, when you realize that synergy itself, is another profound source of personal power. Synergy is the natural state of relations between men and women. Mindfulness to purpose, passion, presence and play is the natural state of Man.

    Get this,  the question of “game or no game” will become liberatingly irrelevant …

     
     

    seductive themes purpose presence playfulness personal integrity passion awareness seductive themes articles advanced

    About the author

    CM.Cooper is the owner and chief improvement officer at undercover-coaching.com. Chris has an academic background in communication, HRM (postgraduate) and business negotiation.

    She is partial to the pleasures of photography, open air music festivals, Douglas Adams and silly puns about lions.

    You can contact Chris for inquireries about personal consulting via email, connect via Linkedin or if you have a great idea for a business venture that doesn’t suck, she might buy you a coffee in Copenhagen.

     
     
     

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