Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Best Class Ever: Part III

Time for a the third update on my "Principles of a Life Philosophy" Class.

6. Expect change.  Don't let habits cripple your adaptability.  Don't let your adaptability overlook and subdue your soul. Adversity is inevitable and fruitful.
To begin, we questioned what is creativity, what is originality, what are the differences when applying this to business, and how can we foster, promote, or kill it.  The three components of creativity (as defined by Amabile in a '95 HBS article) are expertise, creative thinking skills, and motivation. Given those, how can we motivate for creativity?  We then talked about innovation versus creativity.  Our assigned movie was Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring by Kim Ki Duk.  (It's free on YouTube - I recommend it!) Through these discussions, one theme rose to the top - Change is inevitable. 

Next we had a special experience - a local choreographer came to class and took us through an exercise and then gave a short performance.  (In an MBA class!! Gah!) She had some very insightful thoughts on creativity, and the one that really hit home for me was "When you reach a stop or you get bored, resist change as the breakthrough may be right around the corner.  Don't beat yourself up - just let it pass."  I think at times I am a change-addict, because I constantly get bored and want to switch things up.  Turns out this may be a sign that I should stick to something versus moving. I can certainly think of examples in my life when I didn't want to keep going and used "trying a new thing!" as an excuse not to keep forging ahead. 

Another interesting point we discussed was that change for the sake of change can be overrated. It is important to know WHY we are changing.  At the same time, evolution (the natural part of change) is inevitable and we shouldn't fear it.  Still, it shouldn't be an escape either.  

My professor said at the end of our conversation that "sometimes with change, we lose ourselves." I won't comment on that, I will just leave it here. 


7. Be a disciple, not of a prisoner, of your past.  Breathe to celebrate the present, learn to revere the future, and avoid using it as an excuse.  Begin now.
We returned to a more business-focused discussion about finance, starting with ways the US can improve its current account and why the US is partially responsible for the yuan.  We defined finance as "the buying and selling of time, and stating a preference between the two." In other words, there is a choice towards the present or the future and investment is the linking variable. 

Next we talked about a recent publication called "The End of History Illusion" from Science Magazine. Here is the abstract: "We measured the personalities, values, and preferences of more than 19,000 people who ranged in age from 18 to 68 and asked them to report how much they had changed in the past decade and/or to predict how much they would change in the next decade. Young people, middle-aged people, and older people all believed they had changed a lot in the past but would change relatively little in the future. People, it seems, regard the present as a watershed moment at which they have finally become the person they will be for the rest of their lives. This “end of history illusion” had practical consequences, leading people to overpay for future opportunities to indulge their current preferences." In other words, we tend to think we have changed far more in our pasts than we will in the future, and this can have big implications on how we live our lives. Warning: I'm about to get a bit mental for a moment.  This finding resonated strongly with me.  I remember my watershed "moment" at age 25: I thought I was an adult with my whole future mapped out, and I had experienced a great period of change to become who I was supposed to be, once and for all. Therefore I did certain actions that fell in line with that reasoning. At about age 28, once I realized that I had so much change left in me, I had no choice but to abandon what my 25-year-old self had locked down. I still know there is a ton of change ahead, which makes me sometimes timid about making any long-term decisions. And to be more accurate, I want to leave possibilities open so that I can take advantage of opportunities as they come.  Now... finding the balance between maintaining strong relationships, being true to myself, doing the things I want, etc... - that is what life is about, right?

Interestingly, this was not one of my favorite classes or philosophies, but I apparently got more out of it than I originally thought.  One last thing my professor said: "By living in the present, we don't have the time to misconceive the past or the future."  Love this one.

I think the theme of this philosophy is not to let fear be an excuse to start on your dreams.  I certainly can see how this is important, but if I'm being honest with myself, I don't feel that I typically fall short on this one. I'm more likely to start something new and follow my dreams than to sit and wonder. At least with most things. There certainly are areas where this doesn't hold true... but then again I'm getting a trade-off benefit by not acting. 

Quote of the Class:
"Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it now.  Boldness has genius, power, and magic behind it.  Begin it now." -Goethe

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