Friday, September 3, 2010

Minutes of the First Kick-off Meeting

The participating individuals belong to a research group in a multinational software company. Naturally, their main concern was how to enhance their pace of innovation and achieve great results. Some common issues faced:
  • How to improve my power of visualizing a goal, which studies reveal as very important for its achievement?
  • How to context-switch between multiple tasks quickly? Why do I take so long to do so?
  • How to detach myself from the wrong mood (renunciation) and get into the right mood (concentration) quickly?
  • What is the right motivation for work? Is it the reward or is it the interest in the work? Empirical studies indicate the latter. But why is that? If latter, what makes me distracted quickly? How not to get distracted from my work?
  • I take too long to sleep. How to sleep quickly?
People quoted several psychological experiments that made observations on how to address some of the issues above. However, all of them seemed to treat the human being as a black box (not knowing the why of things, but only the what), and work around the observed shortcomings. For instance, people observed that a sports person is coached to get ready for his sport by getting "angry" or "anxious", which seems to make him perform well in practice. Supposedly, it helps him pump up enough adrenaline for alertness during the game. But what are the after-effects of such "working up"? Burn out, making athletes not last longer than the age of 35 years. Will a similar approach work for an intellectual activity such as software development? What are some alternative ways to get oneself to work effectively?

We decided that in our next session, there needs to be a short primer on the holistic anatomy of a human being - the various levels of a man according to Yoga, followed by a practical session on how to perceive and distinguish those levels. An exercise in self-awareness is indispensable to mastery over our instincts.

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