You In Motion
Goal setting, achievements, numbers, the crowd, measures, and yardsticks: words associated with progress and improvement. There’s a lot of hype and fluff surrounding systems that are intelligent, but this isn’t a discussion about systems. This isn’t a chat about business intelligence products or the benefits of yoga or a vegan diet. Rather, this is a chat about a using some psychological and sociological common sense to obtain a greater understanding of ourselves, the dark and light sides, seeing limitations and capabilities, and how to get the proverbial ship where it needs to go without running aground or going in circles. Note: there is no reference to Star Wars in here -- our apologies to the fanboys.
The Necessity for Reflection
Ships navigate only when they know where they are and where they want to go, with the best route to be taken. Measurement. Without it, navigation is blind. Rocks will be hit, and successes seem the result of prayers and superstitions. Coursing through life is no different. Time is short and so is patience. Self-visibility is therefore crucial. It’s true: What gets measured gets done. Operating blindly, plainly put, is time-consuming and frustrating experimentation. It creates a relative gauge where results cannot be tracked, and devising a strategy is simply not possible. Even when there is a strategy in place, the effectiveness of the strategy or its effects can’t be measured. If a ship is incapable of gauging distance and position, it is effectively lost. Even if it’s capable and the shipmaster doesn’t record it, the result is the same. Visibility and reflection -- it needs to be on paper. Steering the ship: Positive progress is always achievable, but it requires motivation, and both positive and negative feedback (steering), visibility and reflection (pretty obvious), willingness, and the ability to adapt to different grades of capability. Think of directly going to a goal through a tar pit, or navigating through thorns. A few thorns or the first bit of tar ought to serve as negative feedback. But this isn’t always the case in real life. Negative feedback and results aren’t always recorded, and so in the larger picture, aren’t avoided. A touch of failure is a good thing. Benjamin Disraeli called suffering and failure a necessary pillar of learning. Results require finding both right and wrong direction. Improvement requires finding the keys to both success, to improve, and failure, to avoid inefficiencies.
The Good and Bad All this talk of ships is fine, but realistically, humans aren’t too different. They still need guidance and navigation, each for its own unique character and capabilities. The person who listens and expresses the needs and limitations of your bodies and minds is, well, yourself. If you’re not capable of self-evaluating, the recorded data won’t lie (unless you deliberately record false data, in which case we can’t really help you). Although there are basic principles in the ‘net positive’ direction for the general population (sleep properly, don’t eat junk), fine-tuning and adapting the direction and magnitudes of these variables varies according to the individual. Everyone has different capabilities and limits, as well as goals. A “one size fits all” approach seldom works for inanimate objects and machines, much less people. Not surprisingly, such an approach to improvement alienates many the beneficiary because of a lack of personal fit. Quick-fix products capitalize precisely on the frustration, but don’t really solve the underlying cause, because they don’t understand the underlying cause. The profusion of swimming, golf, running, biking and other gear, methods and general punditry capitalize on this frustration and impatience. That’s why there is a market for personal coaching. Personalized approaches are effective because they adapt to individual needs, limits and capabilities, whether they are athletic, professional or personal. But personal coaches (in the general sense: eg. take even a formula that takes your age into consideration) can only handle a limited number of people, and that too in a limited number of ways. Coaches aren’t numerical geniuses. Much of their logic and wisdom is based on a combination of intuition and limited measurement and objective numerical skill, but they are not mathematically astute. This doesn’t mean that the coach needs to be, or can be, replaced by something like a formula. That’s too audacious, and rather arrogant. Rather they are best when used for technique, the human side of things, and large-scale strategy. Consider for example, that humans can make up the game of chess and identify the desire to win. After that, the small moves themselves are mechanical. The best strategy is a mixture of quantification and human guidance. The fine-tuning and objective aspects, tracking and reflection of the strategy, showing the relationships and the effects all the parameters have had on one another can and should be a formulaic and technical process. They go hand in hand. The oft-touted concept of the (oversold, and frankly, abused) “KPI” or key performance indicator now takes on a whole new personalized meaning. Industry standards become customized, because ultimately it’s about getting the user to the goal, and not about adapting the user to a product or method. Bring the water to the horses.
Power of the Crowd
Motivation to do anything is a combination of internal and external stimuli. Unfortunately, the majority of the population is not totally self-driven -- nonethless, kudos to those who are. For the majority of the humble population (this author included), a kick in the pants from the crowd is helpful. It would be silly to ignore the motivating power of the crowd. People tend to be braver, stronger, faster and bolder in a crowd. Shame, guilt, desire and vanity are incredible motivators. Both “light” and “dark” sides of social emotional motivators are incredible sources of fuel to drive towards goals. They exist, are part of the human condition, are undeniable, and makes people accountable even if by way of guilt. It’s fine to think of achievements as conquests. Michael Phelps performed well out of anger, but he channeled it properly. The goal of beating someone is still motivation, and so it’s helpful to be given a playing field of targets to conquer. For those being conquered and owned, it’s helpful to know how to win and recover. Even if the underlying motivations aren’t noble, the point is that the crowd can still motivate people to act. This is the underlying principle of measured, socially motivated, assisted improvement.
Get Out There
There isn’t really a product to buy, inasmuch as a creed to which to subscribe. MSUR. No, that’s not a spelling mistake for the word “measure”. Instead, MSUR stands for Measure, Share, Understand, Repeat. It’s our creed, our underlying philosophy, and why we’ve improved. We hope to learn from you. And we hope you’ll join the crowd, and share your goals and progress, motivate us and be part of the measured movement.
PIFIQ records + PIFIQ steers + PIFIQ is personal + PIFIQ is the crowd = PIFIQ is you in motion
Thanks for reading, and make this a day to remember.