Being better

June 12-15,’16 ~ QofDay~ Better at Something

What drives you to do better at something?

The thought that there is so much that is really interesting to do, and so many ways to up-skill, that it is really important to just keep working away at increasing skills in as many domains as possible.

The old Buddhist notion, that for the master on a path worth walking, for every step on the path the destination gets two steps further away, is just such a good way of coming to some sort of an appreciation of the realm of infinite possibility. Infinite paths, all with that same characteristic.

No chance of boredom.

Why, once someone has truly experienced such a path, would anyone not want to keep going?

To me, it is just so obviously the path of greatest long term reward and satisfaction.

And it seems that nothing in reality is certain beyond any doubt, and there are many things that we can be confident of beyond all reasonable doubt.

And I get that most people don’t see it that way, and that is as I see it.

[followed by]

Interesting How Do High Achievers Really Think? Beliefs that lead to success, article Bhatta.

The follow-on article How to Become an Expert is also interesting, and limited.

This is certainly a part of the picture, and the picture is much deeper, much more complex.

What are the implicit assumptions in the concept of achievement?

What are the implicit assumptions and limitations in ideas like truth and value?

At what levels is one willing to question and test the historical survival values embedded in our genetics and our culture that are present not simply in our likes and dislikes, and many levels of values, but within the very ability of brains to create any class or value, or incentivise one sort of mental activity over another, or the concept sets implicit in culture that we use to assess such things?

Those systems are deep.

Our very existence depends upon them in a very real sense, and yet in another sense, if left unexamined, they rule us in ways that are no longer in our best interests in the exponentially changing modern reality we find ourselves in.

Anything involving money is highly suspect.

Most ideas that come from our past need to be re-examined and re-framed in the sets of concepts and evidence available from modern science. Which quite explicitly is not saying one needs to be bound by any set of rules, and it is quite explicitly saying that the greater the levels of awareness one has about the many levels of constraints and influence that do actually exist, the greater the degree of both choice and responsibility one gets.

So my challenges go much deeper than many of the implicitly accepted assumptions present in this article.


When navigating at sea, one uses stars and a knowledge of time to help judge direction. One never expects to ever get to a star while using a sailing vessel, one accepts that one is always a very long way from all stars, and will remain essentially the same distance away for the entire journey, and they can be very useful aids to navigation. I view all “ideals” in such manner.

Human beings, each and every one of us, are far more complex, far more magical, than any of us can every fully appreciate. That is just what it is to be a human being. And modern science can give those willing to do the study, to train the intuitions in new domains, some amazing insights into the sorts of classes of things that are possible for human beings. The sorts of freedoms and creativity available to us.

There is so much truth in the old saying “if you believe you can, or you believe you can’t, you are right”. And it is more complex than that, it takes more than belief, it takes effective persistent action in reality, and a modicum of luck, to do most things that are really creative. The more domains one is willing to explore, the more conceptual sets the subconscious has to creatively mix and match in the intuitive creative process. Great scientists are not bound by rules, they are informed by, and not limited by, them. The more persistent one is, the more likely one is to encounter luck.

All rules have boundary conditions.

It is often uncomfortable going beyond boundary conditions.

It is often lonely going beyond boundary conditions.

It is rarely boring.


[followed by]

What motivates us at work? More than money by Jessica Gross – Idea at TED.

Hi Bhatta,

All entirely what I expected, and much of it I had already encountered.

For most people, in most social contexts, we are fundamentally cooperative.

And we are all capable of competing.

Certainly, feel appreciated, feeling you are making a positive difference helps.

And the really deep stuff is, how do we make those judgments?

Where do our “feelings” come from?

What is their likely evolutionary origins?

What is their strategic significance in the multilevel systems that are each of us?

What are the many levels of factors influencing these feelings and judgements?

How many of them are still appropriate in the exponentially changing contexts we find ourselves in today.

It seems clear to me, that in the broadest sense, creating conditions that foster cooperation at the deepest levels is of long term benefit to everyone.

It is very clear to me that many aspects of our current market based system of money, exchange and capital values is directly threatening to the creation of such cooperation for the majority of humanity.

So yes – all those things are true, and there is real power in going much deeper.

And journeys of such depth must be essentially personal, because of the depths of concepts and distinctions and relationships involved, most of which must be intuitive if one is to operate with confidence.

It seems clear to me that greatest confidence comes when intuition and logic deliver the same outcomes, it’s just that intuition does it so much faster (thousands or millions of times faster). Back checking those intuitive leaps can be a tedious and time consuming task, and it is often powerful to do it in areas of great importance.

And to repeat what I have said many times, we are all so complex, that our abilities are little short of magic.

In most people, the greatest block to creativity and understanding is our own lack of trust in our own judgments. And that is not surprising as what most educational and political and religious institutions teach is some version of “obey authority”, “trust authority”, “listen to the expert/teacher/priest/leader”.

Sure, there are some situations, where there is imminent danger, when it is better for all concerned to obey rather than to ask questions, and such situations are not very common in the lives of most people.

For most people, most of the time, asking questions, even really difficult and uncomfortable questions, is entirely appropriate. But most people get that “beaten” out of them very early in life.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see
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