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Name of author Rick Baker, P.Eng.

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Do you commit to being useful every day from here to eternity? Has making yourself useful become one of your good habits?

by Rick Baker
On Apr 10, 2020

The Thinking Behind The Tweet

We all have good days and bad days; our internal drive-energy ebbs and flows.

Regardless, we can commit to thinking and doing useful things...every day...for the rest of our lives.

[Why wouldn't we commit to thinking and doing useful things?]

[What reason could we possibly have for not committing to that?]

Beware those vagrant thoughts. [Unless, of course, you want to waste a lot of time.]

by Rick Baker
On Jan 2, 2020

The Thinking Behind The Tweet

Vagrant thoughts find their home in the endless mental chatter that flows through our minds. 

Vagrant thoughts make up much of our mental chatter.

Some of our thoughts meet the criteria for statutory vagrancy - they are intentionally unproductive and [call it] allergic to gainful employment.


I'm too busy! - I don't have time! | Thinking as in Think and Grow Rich | Thought Tweets

Criticism, Adrenalin Spikes & Improving Relationships

by Rick Baker
On May 15, 2017

Some people naturally repulse criticism. These people may show outward signs of their repulsion. These people may not show outward signs, or their repulsion may hide so well it would take a professional observer to notice it. Regardless, internally, these people churn in reaction to criticism. For these people - even small, innocuous pieces of feedback can trigger intense internal reactions, floods of adrenalin – adrenalin spikes.

  1. Do you know people who show vehement reaction to tiny criticisms…people who have zero tolerance for incoming criticism?
  2. Do you know people who, at first, show no outward reaction to criticism then, later, strike excessive reactionary blows against the person who delivered the criticism?
  3. Do you know people who have the habit of claiming they are the victim of undue criticism?
  4. Do you know people who repulse criticism yet deliver it to others with gusto and righteousness?

These are four common reactions to criticism.

I have personally exhibited at least three of these four reactions to criticism…and, probably, many people would think I’m selling myself short by not admitting to all four.


Why would I have had such reactions to criticism?

Not having much knowledge of physiology or biology and only dabbling experience with psychology I answer that question this way:

  • When people criticized me, I experienced adrenalin spikes [or was that cortisol?]. I felt strong, churning, tightening sensations in the gut…quickly followed by combinations of anxiety and anger, often intense anger...then excessive negative thoughts and behaviour.
  • This reaction must have started when I was a very young child. I have no memory of reacting any other way to criticism [until the last decade, that is].
  • Perhaps, my criticism-repulsion was are due to genetics? Perhaps, my childhood environment? Perhaps, my early experiences with authority figures? I expect it was some combination of these things.

Here’s a curious thing. When you experience criticism-repulsion as a child you can be quite oblivious to other people. And, this can cause challenges…a large variety of interpersonal challenges. Left unattended, these interpersonal challenges can last a lifetime.

Here’s some good news. It is possible to gain self-understanding and create strategies to overcome the interpersonal challenges. The starting point, or at least one starting point, is recognition of the physiological changes that signal less-than-ideal reactions to criticism. People, perhaps most people, can alter their bad habits [including adrenalin spikes] if they choose to make the changes and do the work required.


PS: Perhaps, the people who experience the criticism-repulsion I have described are most capable of identifying it in other people? ... and helping others?  

A leadership mindset generates constructive behaviour...creating, evoking, and building on great ideas.

by Rick Baker
On Apr 23, 2017

The Thinking Behind The Tweet

Great ideas contain intangible potential: only in the hands of great leadership teams can that potential become reality.

About thinking.


Ideas | Thinking as in Think and Grow Rich | Thought Tweets

People. Icebergs.

by Rick Baker
On Apr 18, 2017

When we observe people, we observe the equivalent of the tip of the iceberg.

We observe people's Actions. We observe their vocal actions, their body language, and the wide variety of their other physical actions. Yes, to various degrees we have hunches - intuitions - which allow us to sense things beyond their actions. Regardless, for the most part, our perceptions of people are based on our observations of their Actions.

And, that's like looking at the tip of an iceberg.

Here's how I see it...

We observe a person's Actions. The person's Actions create in our minds perceptions of the person's Energy, Thoughts, Talents, Self-Control, Intelligence, and Emotions. And, those are the most important things people possess beyond the Actions we observe. These 7 things - Actions, Energy, Thoughts, Talents, Self-Control, Intelligence, and Emotions - are the essence of human beings. One of the facets that make up the essence - Action - is visible to other people. The other 6 facets are hidden from others and it is often difficult to understand their nature in self let alone in others.

Energy is perhaps closest to the surface. Certainly, Energy is closely tied to Actions. When we see an energetic person it registers. Sometimes, high-energy Action impresses us immensely and moves us deeply. As examples, we are impressed by energetic athletic performances and moved deeply by energetic musical performances. Sometimes, the energy is much more subtle yet of equally powerful impact. For example, we can be moved deeply by poetry. Perhaps - or, should I say likely - our perceptions of another person's energy are more reliable than our perceptions of the 6 underlying facets. In most situations, when we see little evidence of energy in others we conclude they are resting, or they are lazy, or they are ill. In certain situations, we interpret other people's lack of energy as a signal they are thinking or meditating. But, often a lack of evidence of energy is interpreted to be a negative signal. Evidence of action, particularly energetic action, can be interpreted in many ways...ranging from very bad to very good...depending on our values and our other judgement factors and how the other person's actions align with our values and judgements.

Thoughts come in many forms. Desires are thoughts, as are goals and ambitions. Feelings are thoughts tied to Emotions and desires. When feelings last for extended periods, say a day or so, they become moods. When we lose the ability to control our feelings and other thoughts within 'reasonable/normal' boundaries moods transform into mental states such as clinical depression, mania, dementia, paranoia, etc. Some thoughts are good, some are bad. The easiest way to draw the line between good and bad is to ask the question, "Does this thought help me achieve my long-term goals?" If the answer is "Yes" then the thought is a good thought. If the answer is "Maybe" or "No" then the thought is a bad thought. Habits straddle Thoughts and Actions. Habits are Thoughts [including feelings] and Actions that are repeated. And good habits are repeated thoughts or actions that take us towards our long-term goals while bad habits do not. There is a strong link between the Thoughts and Actions that form a person's good habits. Good-habit Actions are the result of repeated cerebral cortex activity...repeated so frequently they become resistant to Emotions. Habits are closely tied to Self-Control.

Talents are innate. Some [if not most & perhaps even all] are genetic in origin, gifts from our parents and their ancestors. Talents respond well to strong, supportive early-childhood influences. For example, innate musical Talents can blossom into gifted Action at a very early age when supported by masterful coaching. Gretzky and Mozart come to mind. Yet Talents can also be suppressed and buried at an early age, never to be discovered. Processes exist to help us discover our Talents. Some are simple. For example, there is a close linkage between our feelings and our Talents. When we are feeling good and are enthusiastic while performing Actions, that's a signal that Talents could be at work. Conversely, when we have negative feelings while doing tasks and processes that could be a signal the Action is outside our Talent zone. Talents do not show up as Action unless they have the opportunity to do so. Talents do not show up as strengths [task and process mastery] unless they are combined with specialized knowledge and practised skills. The amount of practice is large. That requires commitment and persistence, so Self-Control is essential to strength - mastery of Action. When we observe other people illustrating mastery of Action, we can assume they have talent, knowledge, and skill in that area. We can assume the Action mastery required Thought and Self-Control.

Self-Control is a magnificent facet. It is reasonable to assume it has some genetic roots. However, clearly, it can be influenced by environmental factors. Social psychologists have proven situations and 'role models' play a huge role in human behaviour. Philosophers and psychologists have argued both for and against power of will. Psychologists have added texture to Self-Control, differentiating between short-term 'self-control' and long-term 'grit'. Regardless, for this introductory discussion, the ability to exercise will power is the same as the ability to exercise Self-Control and if these things cannot be exercised over the long term then their value is limited. Self-Control is the ingredient that allows the other 5 hidden facets and the resulting Actions to generate success. Self-Control consumes energy as bad habits are replaced with new things and good habits. Self-Control conserves energy when good habits are firmly in place. Self-Control enables Intelligence to gain ground, slowly over time and with repetition of focused Thought, over Emotions and unfocused Thought. Self-Control funnels energy to Talents so they have the opportunity to be exposed for long periods to the practice required to master the skills of Action. 

Intelligence is the quality and amount of information we have stored in and can retrieve from our brains...as measured by others' perceptions of our Actions. Intelligence has both IQ and EQ components. When we have information in our minds and cannot retrieve it and convert it into Action that information is knowledge, not Intelligence. Human Intelligence only exists when it is perceived by other people. And, it can only be perceived when it manifests itself into physical form - and that means Action. Unfortunately, people's perceptions are influenced by a range of biases...literally, hundreds of biases. With that understood, there is little chance for one's Intelligence to be accurately understood or measured by other people. People observe our Actions. Their observations and perceptions of our Actions determine their opinion of our Intelligence. Yes - IQ tests are directionally correct within the limitations of a biased, narrow, and restrictive range. The same holds true for EQ tests. In the real world, people observe our Actions- they observe what we say and what we do - and they draw conclusions around our Intelligence [which they being biased, typically, underestimate].

Emotions are vestiges of pre-history. They are automatic chemical/electrical/physiological responses, largely outside of consciousness. They

occur quickly and are of short duration. In modern days of business, where fight or flight are generally not appropriate responses, they do us little good. Yet, Emotions live on and are deeply rooted in our subconscious minds. They are deep-rooted in the mind of the person doing the Action. And, they can influence Action. At the same time, Emotions are also deep-rooted in the mind of the person who observes the Action. So, they can also influence the perception of the observer. Emotions, somehow, support the formation and maintenance of bad habits...Emotions work against positive change. There is evidence confirming Intelligence and Self-Control can focus Energy and Thoughts to offset the awesome natural power of Emotions. This works best when Talents are in play. 

Summing up...

When we observe other people's Actions we need to remember we are observing the tip of an iceberg. And, we need to remember our perceptions are skewed by numerous biases. We need to take time to make judgements of other people's motives and abilities. We need to communicate more clearly and work to understand other people. We need to ask good questions and listen well to the answers. We need to extend more trust. We need to invest in building stronger relationships.


 First posted December 12, 2013

Visions, Biases & Evolution

by Rick Baker
On Apr 17, 2017

We have wonderful dreams and ambitions…there’s no end to our visions of better things in the future. And, behind these dreams and ambitions, our motives are admirable – all around helping people, solving tough problems and building fun, cool and valuable things.

As we identify opportunities and conceive solutions, we are prone to trick ourselves. According to psychologists, we are predisposed to a wide range of biases. These biases skew our thinking, causing us to be over-anxious, over-confident and hold many other troubled mindsets between these extremes. If you were to fully research all the 100’s of psychological biases then you would probably be so frazzled you’d have trouble thinking anything positive about the future, let alone envisioning bright future changes. 

So – we don’t want to dwell on these biases. 

We just want to mention one of the biases – the tendency to be over-confident about our ability to predict the future…i.e., the ‘overconfidence effect’.

Psychologists tell us we are prone to be over-confident when we forecast the future. This causes us to over-estimate the success we will experience when we create a new product or service. While psychologists illustrate the problems this natural bias can generate, there are other ways to think about it. 

For example -

Scientists tout evolution. To a large degree, the concept of evolution is accepted by non-scientists. Along that vein, scientists and non-scientists alike can ‘blame’ evolution for our tendency to be over-confident about our ability to predict the future. And, consistent with evolution concepts, we can conclude this tendency must exist to help us adapt and survive. 

If we were not naturally blessed with the tendency to have over-confident thoughts about the future then we would be less inclined to envision better futures, set goals around our visions and be persistent in action aimed at our visions.

The where would we be?

[We’d be hobbled with low-confidence and submerged in fatalistic, status-quo thoughts.]




Copyright © 2012. W.F.C (Rick) Baker. All Rights Reserved.