MAOD Blog

March 15, 2017

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The Donald Trump experience is many things. For me, these are odd times because it’s so difficult to find the truth. Government and media sources of information are being called into question and dragged into political battles. Even the scientific community is experiencing a methodological conundrum and internal conflict. Fabricated information from the Trump administration is far exceeding my capacity to give the benefit of the doubt. I find myself taking in a broad variety of news, but I’m categorizing most information as opinionated and biased.

My most reliable news source has become the NPR politics podcast. I place faith in this team to report the news because they act natural on the air: they step on each other’s toes, they tease one another, they know their roles, and they are transparent about their process. I glean that they are doing their best to be hard-working, ethical reporters during these difficult times. 

“The NPR Politics Podcast is where NPR's political reporters ta...

February 19, 2017

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As you know, it’s been a wet winter here in the San Francisco Bay Area, so I’ve been using my windshield wipers more than usual. On the fastest setting, my wipers actually tap the edge of my windshield, and thus, create a nice regular rhythm. Usually, I find it rather irritating, but the other day, I noticed that the wiper blade beat was actually in sync with the music I was playing (Tame Impala, I think!) And it was beautiful. A new dimension of the music was created, and it added something to what I was listening to. It became richer and stronger - more powerful. Unwittingly, I had created a spontaneous and completely natural experience of coherence!

The concept of personal coherence has been around for quite some time, and there are many scientists and software companies helping people get more personal coherence in their lives using various apps (HeartRate+, Calm, Kardia, and Coherence Trainer are some that I’ve downloaded and experimented with), and devices (HeartMath is one tha...

February 9, 2017

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The broadest goal of facilitation is to 'help a group do its best thinking'. What does it mean to think well? While most of us have an inkling what this means for ourselves, the topic gets out of control when we incorporate multiple viewpoints and value systems.
 
But the facilitation must go on. One lens that has come in handy for making sense out of group thinking comes from my days studying the Philosophy of Free Will at UC San Diego.
 
As you might expect, philosophers believe we either have complete control over our actions and decisions (free will), no control over our actions and decisions (determinism), or some mix of the two extremes. The issue can also be stated in terms of cause and effect. Those who mostly believe in free will think that individuals create their own circumstances, while those who mostly believe in determinism think that individuals are the result of outside influences.

For example, let's say that Marcus gives a sub-par presentation. It occurs to his boss...

February 3, 2017

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It’s hard to look away from what is going on in our society politically and socially. Regardless of where you stand on the left, right, somewhere in between, there is an overwhelming amount of shouting, confusion, pain, and frustration. It is all too easy to get riled up and indignant should you but look at any social media or turn on a tv. While the times are crazy, they are opportune as well. Opportune for changing the way we talk to each other, the way we vet and consider information, and the way we go about action. 

Humans are emotional, irrational creatures. This can be entertaining, and it can also be alarming, depending on the circumstances and parties involved. This is especially true with our new president and administration. Right now, everyone has something to lose and something to gain whether they are aware of it or not. Remaining staunch in your experiences, beliefs, and status does not serve you, and it does not serve the progression of our nation. We are one, big, co...

February 1, 2017

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Habit is one of the most well-known and well-researched psychological phenomenon today. So why do so many people have bad habits? Because the people who understand habits are usually trying to form addictive habits for others in order to turn a profit. Every business model that runs on some form of addiction thoroughly understands the psychological and/or chemical process of habit formation. 

The main chemical at play in habit and addiction is the neurotransmitter dopamine. When released in the brain, this chemical produces feelings of reward and pleasure. When the release of dopamine is associated with something, it creates wanting for that thing and readiness to learn how to obtain it. As with everything in the human body, it’s more complex than that, but dopamine is the key chemical in the cycle of want, learn, reward, repeat. 

There are plenty of self-interested businesses creating desire by providing direct rewards or associating their product with rewards, and they are all...

January 19, 2017

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Last Sunday, I found myself driving to San Francisco in the early morning and in deep fog. I was heading to a pub that shows live English soccer, and was running late. I had my headlights turned on and I was concentrating quite hard on the other traffic. I pride myself on being a good driver, especially in adverse weather conditions, and I do this by really concentrating (and also heading to the outside/fast lane as quickly as possible, where there are less crazies, and the road surface is better!).

However, when I did take the time to take stock and look around, everything looked just that little bit different; to the extent that, for a split second, I didn’t know where I was, and I wondered if I was on the correct road or not!

Only those things (houses, trees, shops, gas stations, etc) nearest the freeway were visible. I saw houses I had never seen before, strip malls stood out, and intersections just looked different to how I remembered them. The fog had obliterated the middle and...

January 8, 2017

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As 2017 launches, people scramble to prepare for a new year and to make change for the future. It’s all the same, but what really is the difference between success and failure? Is that even the right question? Or should we be more concerned with maintaining a sense of purpose and fulfillment that supersedes success and failure? If so, how do we do that? 

Simple answer: start asking yourself 'why.' Why do you do what you do on a daily basis, personally and professionally? Why do you struggle to go to sleep on Sunday night and get up Monday morning? Why do you feel most alive participating in your local open mic night? It is miraculous that as kids, we can’t stop asking ‘why’ but as adults we so seldom explore what matters to us even though this is the single most guiding aspect of how we construct our identity in relationships, in our careers, in learning and development, and in our lively existence overall. I find Simon Sinek’s perspective on vision and the why of life to be illumina...

October 5, 2016

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Grit is a buzzword, on trend with gluten-free. But how do we all define it? What does grit look like to each of us? What picture comes to mind when you think about someone having grit? The answer: It depends. It may very well look look different and mean something different to many people. People make meaning and construct reality based on what they know, past experiences, current status, and many other factors that make each and every one of us individuals. Perceptions and understanding are varied and to get to a point of mutuality requires effort and refinement. The psychologist behind the term, Angela Duckworth, defines grit as “sticking with things over the very long term until you master them.” No part of this definition implies that a gritty individual would be someone who lacks emotional intelligence or relationship skills. While Goleman makes a great point that grit isn’t enough for success and that relationship building and management skills are important, why is it assumed...