Why Should I Read | Ego is the Enemy

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“Our greatest internal obstacle is our ego.” -Ryan Holiday

Ego: an unhealthy feeling of one’s own importance, arrogance.

Ryan Holiday, #1 bestselling author, writes on the topic of ego to address our addiction to the drug-like effects of buying into our own awesomeness.

Why would you pick this book off the shelves?  This book gives practical applications to individuals interested in maintaining their success and avoiding failure due to ego. 

We consistently find ourselves in three stages in life, aspiring, succeeding, or failing. In chapter 32, Holiday concludes a thought, “…ego makes all three stages harder, but it has the potential to make failure permanent.”

Holiday’s writing is highly influenced by stoic thinkers like Seneca and Marcus Aurelius. From a Christian perspective, this book is spot on, and Holiday points it out in chapter 9. He says that Christians approach the topic of ego by simply labeling it pride… and then agrees that you don’t have to be a Christian to agree that it is a bad idea all around. Over 2500 years ago King Solomon wrote,

Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.

Proverbs 18:12

He gets it.

In this week’s book review video, I point out that the idea that “you can be lesser, but still do more” is foreign to our culture and is worth reclaiming.

If you choose to read this book, you will be regaled with stories from throughout history of ego hindering the success of great men and women. Check out the three links below for a sample of the book: the first is the introduction and Ryan Holiday’s personal story; the second is a recording of a chapter entitled “What’s Important to You” one of the best of the book; the third is a review from Derek Sivers because he has 200 high quality book summaries on his site and he loves this book.

What’s Important to You

Derek Sivers on Ego is the Enemy: ” I wish everyone would read this”

I hope you choose to pick this book as your next read, I put it in the top 7 books I’ve read this year and will likely read it again.

Until Next Time!

Keep Reading Friends.

Jon

 

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Why Should I Read | Influence

We tend to focus on a single piece of information when making choices.

Most of the time this helps. Here’s how.

Recently, on a flight from Singapore to the US, I was eating sushi with my brother in the Tokyo airport. I’ve never had saké before and wanted to try. However, when the waitress placed a box and chilled shot glass in front of me and filled both the glass and the box with alcohol, my enthusiasm waned. I realized I had no idea of the “right” way to drink saké.

I cast searching glances at every patron in sight but no one had a box of liquid in front of them.

Divorced from the internet because of airplane mode, I had no one to model proper drinking technique. Finally, I turned to the well-dressed businessman next to me at the bar and confessed,

“Hi sir, I’m a dumb American, how am I supposed to drink this? Right out of the box?”

He assured me that I was on the right track and I enjoyed the cold saké out of the box and munched the Narita roll with my brother before our flight.

We often use “social proof” (the actions of those around us) to figure out the right way to act in uncertain situations. This allowed me to enjoy saké in a foreign airport….but there are ways to hack these systems to influence. Imagine if I had seen someone pouring the box back into the shot glass, I would have blindly followed suit, assuming it was correct.

This book is about the six most powerful ways in which humans tend to develop automatic responses. Dr. Robert Cialdini, a cognitive psychologist, has spent his life exploring and testing these tactics. He’s even gone undercover into organizations that cleverly use our human nature to gain compliance from us.

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Again, most of the time these mostly automatic responses are beneficial, like looking around to figure out how to eat foreign foods. Yet sometimes others exploit these tactics to get us to bend to their will in ways that we may not realize.

As I said in my video on this topic, “[read this book] if for nothing else than to understand how to withstand some of these tactics.” Please remember though all of the compliance tactics discussed in the book or this post can be employed for good or for evil, depending on the motives of the person using them.

Here’s the list of six and a .gif to help you understand each.

Reciprocity.. Free samples at the supermarket are a subtle favor for passers-by and often individuals will buy even if they didn’t like the sample. We are compelled to respond in kind to favors and concessions we receive from others.

biden sample.gif Of course, Vice President Biden munching Costco samples is always relevant.

Consistency. We have an almost obsessive desire to act and appear consistent with what we have already done.  Our self-image is one of the most reliable factors we can look to when making decisions.Writing something down can help change the way we view ourselves.

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Remember Bart writing line after line.

Social Proof. Especially when in uncertain situations, we look to the actions of those like us to figure out how to act. This was the saké situation or the BBQ Stingray I referenced in the video.

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Those cats are as much affected by each other’s reactions as they are startled by the moving paper bag.

Liking. All things being equal, we do more for those people we like. All things aren’t equal, but we still do more for those people we like. We also tend to like attractive people, people who seem similar to us,  and those people who like us back.

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President Obama has both likability as well as an every-man quality that many find appealing. Plus he takes selfies..

Authority. If a man in a police uniform came up and berated you for jaywalking, it wouldn’t likely occur to you to ask for his badge number. The appearance of authority is often enough cue for us to comply. Even if the appearance is just a well tailored business suit.

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Leonardo DiCaprio could convince anyone with that pilot’s uniform.

Scarcity. You remember wanting the last cookie just because your brother wanted it, right? Even if you were full, the value of the cookie went up because other people might take it. We often act like grabby kids.

black friday.gif Think Black Friday shopping.

Thanks for checking out what I can almost 100% guarantee is the only blog post explaining Cialdini’s influence tactics with .gifs

Here’s a mildly academic takeaway from John Stuart Mill to make you feel smart because of your access to the internet.

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John Stuart Mill, the British economist, political thinker, and philosopher of science, died more than a hundred years ago. The year of his death (1873) is important because he is reputed to have been the last man to know everything there was to know in the world. Today, the notion that one of us could be aware of all known facts is only laughable.

Influence, pg. 207

Keep reading Friends!

Until next time (I’m switching to every other week with the blog, due to other projects taking off). Follow along on twitter! @jondelange

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Why Should I Read | The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Great fiction writing highlights a familiar truth in an unexpected way.

Gaiman writes about the world of the dead as he reminds us to cherish the time we have in this life. Because most of the characters in The Graveyard Book are eternal, the experiences of the mortal main character, Nobody Owens, are seen in stark relief.

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The Graveyard Book came recommended to me via Tim Ferriss as he consistently promoted it on his podcast in conjunction with Audible. I picked it up for a recent vacation, an easy way I could justify adding a fiction book to my reading list, and was not disappointed! I was immersed into a world that swirled with mist and creaked as I opened the gate to enter the graveyard.

If you enjoy the fantasy genre, you’ll find yourself walking with werewolves. If you prefer mysteries, this book opens upon a Man outfitted entirely in Black immediately after a murder has taken place. If you’re like me and you enjoy a great history reference, the inhabitants of the graveyard are stuck in the years in which they died. Because of this, they bring their culture with them as they interact with one another.

Gaiman has written a book that entices the reader ever deeper into a mythology that parallels modern life. You find yourself in small-town England amid rolling hills as soon as you turn the first page.

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Since the book follows the opening years of Nobody Owen’s (Bod, as he’s known to his friends) life, you experience the passage of time in a graveyard which is incongruous to the inhabitants, who are eternal. Bod can converse with the inhabitants of the graveyard, and is raised by them, with the specter of the Man in Black in the background of the story, until he isn’t.

I won’t spoil the rest of the story. I trust you’ll enjoy this book as much as I did.

Happy Halloween folks!

Until next week,

Keep Reading friends.

Follow along on Twitter! https://www.twitter.com/jondelange

Why Should I Read | The 5 Love Languages

This past week I heard the song “Can’t Stop The Feeling!” by Justin Timberlake. It’s playing right now as I write this post. It’s a catchy tune, upbeat lyrics, and a great summer jam. The problem is that most people fall in love and expect that this song is going to describe the rest of their lives with this amazing person they have found.

Dr. Gary Chapman states in his immensely insightful book, The 5 Love Languages, that the “in love” feeling will change after roughly two years.

There are several paths after that transition though. If we go down what we’ll call the “Hollywood” route, a couple will simply move on and try to find the next person that can give them that same rush they experienced first. If we go down what we’ll call the “Roommate” route, a couple will stay together but having never transitioned into lasting love they lose the spark. At the other end of the spectrum, a couple can learn how to emotionally fulfill each other in ways that speak loudly to their partner and the relationship matures and blossoms in ways that are unfathomable to others on different paths. We’ll call that couple the “Lasting Lovers.”photo-1426543881949-cbd9a76740a4

So what makes the difference?

Chapman lays out a framework for understanding the reactions of others to our efforts at love. He states that there are five primary “Love Languages” that people receive and give love through. Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Giving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. Before we give a quick overview of these, I think that the entire mindset can be summed up in two quotes from the book.

Almost everything ever written on the subject of love indicates that at the heart of love is the spirit of giving.

P. 82

While in the context of giving gifts, this short sentence sums up the sacrificial and active role that Lasting Lovers experience. While the Roommates wonder why the feeling faded and Hollywood looks for the next ecstatic experience, the Lasting Lovers take action and are others focused.

A tender hug communicates love to any child but it shouts love to the child whose love language is physical touch. The same is true for adults.

P. 110

Notice the distinction here? When you speak the right love language, you are directly connecting with the individual who you are aiming at. Someone may appreciate the encouraging words, but if they yearn for you to help with the laundry then your time is better spent in that activity.

The Five Love Languages

The Lasting Lovers learn their lover’s language (apologies for liberal alliteration). In all seriousness though, when one can identify their partner’s, or anyone else’s love language, they can target their actions to fill the other’s emotional needs.

A common Roommate response in the book to Dr. Chapman letting them know of the love languages is, “but that love language doesn’t come naturally to me.” Dr Chapman would respond with a 100% sincere and loving “So?” Refer back to the quote from page 82, if the spirit of love is giving, it would follow that you conform to the person you are serving in love.

One quick note, the use of the term “Language,” is extremely intentional. While one can interact with someone of a different language the meaning is often lost and there is certainly no nuance or meaningful conversation taking place. In order to fully experience a different culture one must experience it within the native language. The same goes for fully loving another individual. In order to truly experience life with them and find a life full of nuance and meaningful connection, it is imperative that you learn their language.

Check out the book for a full treatment of these languages.

Words of Affirmation. Words of Affirmation are sincere, delivered in appropriate tone, and usually come as compliments or encouragement.

Quality Time. Quality Time is time spent with the other person while fully present. Phones, TV, and other distractions almost completely annul the time as being “quality.” Quality conversations and quality activities are the two most common forms of this language.

Giving Gifts. A gift is a visible representation of one’s love for another. We can observe many “Hollywood” couples (literal hollywooders and figurative) trying to impress their partner with increasingly extravagant gifts. However a gift need not be expensive to express love. Although you shouldn’t get a washer for a wedding ring, some expressions of extravagance are signs of love 🙂

Acts of Service. This love language is one that can seem especially foreign to those that don’t receive love in this way. One may think, “Really? Doing my wife’s to-do list is an act of love?” But this expression of giving speaks just as loudly as any of the others to those that crave this love language.

Physical Touch. Many times men will assume they have the love language of physical touch because their affinity for sex is so strong. The love language physical touch is more than simply sexual attraction or actions however. The implicit touches such as a hand on the shoulder or a quick hug transfer an emotional depth that is far different than simple sexual desire to the person who’s love language is physical touch. Check out the story in this week’s video to hear about an example of that. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PFTKJ_eDIE

So where does a couple diverge from the tingly feeling and embark into Hollywood, Roommate life or find Lasting Love? The answer lies in identifying your opposite’s love language and speaking it in ways that they receive.

Chapman says to identify your spouse’s love language you answer three questions in the context of his relationships. (from pg. 175)

  • How does he most often express love to others?
  • What does he complain about most often?
  • What does he request most often?

In answering these questions you will begin to unearth the nuanced emotional framework of your spouse. This is a lifelong pursuit of intimacy. This knowledge is NOT common, guard the emotions of your spouse; these languages can be spoken with incredible benefit or devastating consequences.

I write this as a single guy, I am bit envious of you who are married reading this as well as looking forward to a lifelong partnership in the future.

Love well, friends.

Follow me on Twitter! https://www.twitter.com/jondelange