Of Monks and Men: The Generation of Change The Vision: Develop a Passionate, Open Source, Supportive Community of Compassionate Individuals Devoted to Improving
Improve Your Understanding of the World with Model Thinking
I’m feeling motivated and enrolled in the Model Thinking class offered by the University of Michigan today via Coursera.
We live in a complex world with diverse people, firms, and governments whose behaviors aggregate to produce novel, unexpected phenomena. We see political uprisings, market crashes, and a never ending array of social trends. How do we make sense of it?
Models. Evidence shows that people who think with models consistently outperform those who don’t. And, moreover people who think with lots of models outperform people who use only one.
Model Thinking is the practice of applying models to various problems and situations. Model Thinking helps us make sense of our complex world. Models help us to organize information, therefore improving our decision-making. It’s both valuable and nearly universally applicable.
If you’re not familiar with Coursera, it’s a website that offers free classes by accredited universities known as MOOC’s (Massive Open Online Courses). The class runs from February 2nd to May 1. It’s about 4-8 hours a week of time.
I listen to the lectures on my daily commute and complete any assignments or readings on the weekends. You can make the time.
Learn more about the course commitment and model thinking below. I hope you’ll join me!
Get It Done Sheet: Weekly To-Do and Progress Tracker
I’ve had a slow start to kicking off the productive changes I intend to make in my life this year. I’ve made some excuses but enough is enough and it’s time to get back in gear.
One of the best tools I’ve developed to hold myself accountable and on task is the Get It Done sheet. I was exploring reddit a while back and came across a post from someone that said the most productive they ever were in their life was during their 20’s when they folded a sheet of paper into eight sections and would write all of the things they need to do each week, using the last square for weekly items and motivational quotes.
I started by following a similar format, but decided to tweak it. I eventually decided to create a template that I could edit weekly. The Get It Done sheet helps me keep on track with budgeting my time and ensuring that I achieve what I want to. I hope you find it as useful as I do. I’d love to hear suggestions for tweaking the sheet. Feel free to download it yourself and make edits. Do whatever help you the most.
I further explain some of the key components below.
- I like to begin the sheet withmotivation and advice:
- Take the actions the person you want to be would take. That’s how you become them.
- There is no progress without struggle. Delay satisfaction in sacrifice of long term growth.
- Focus; Compassion: Hard-Work: Dedication: Self-Control: Integrity: Purpose. Some of the values I strive to exhibit daily.
- The 7 boxes represent days of the week. In each day I allow 3 line items for things that need to get done at work (return a specific call or email or produce a report), on projects or ways I can further develop myself (job skills, write, read etc.) and on personal items (grocery store, cook a specific dish, laundry). I also leave space for events/meetings I may need to attend.
- Below the open ended daily tasks, I track daily aspects of my life. I jot down my workouts, weight and calories (Protein Fat and Carbs). I also read 30 minutes per day and listen to either a Coursera Lesson, Ted Talk or Podcast on the way to or from work. I track the money I spent to stay on budget and I try to introduce myself with one new person every day to get out of my comfort zone.
- In the right side of each daily box are other daily objectives. I’m currently working towards waking up earlier and hope to reach a daily wake up time of 5 a.m (note: this would be far easier in the summer). I like reminding myself to have coffee because it’s about all that can get me out of bed at that time. This is followed by a morning stretch to get the blood flowing and then the usual morning tasks (Make Bed, Brush Teeth, Shower). It feels good to cross off items so I put a semi excessive amount on my lists. I post once a day for Deptford Travel (www.mexicocaribbeanvacatons .com) and for this blog (www.ofmonksandmen.com) . The posts don’t need to be original content, I do my best to provide value to anyone that takes the time to read my posts and hopefully improve their lives.
- The final portion of the sheet lists weekly items I’ll need to accomplish like groceries or laundry. I intend to write one piece of original content as well for the blog. I leave room for improving the sheet and finish it off with a few more motivational quotes.
I hope you find my Get It Done sheet as beneficial to your life as it is to mine. Hold yourself accountable, set goals, be fulfilled, enjoy life and when necessary Fake it til’ you make it.
It’s time to take the actions necessary to become who you want to be. Let’s talk about it.
You may believe that you’re a ways away from being that person, but you’re closer than you think. To live truly you need to allow your values to steer your actions. You need to envision what actions the person you want to be would take in situations and execute them. It doesn’t matter if you start small or large; just start somewhere.
The small choices we make on a daily basis amount to who we are as a person. When we make these choices, tens if not hundreds daily, we cast a vote for becoming a certain type of person. Creating lasting change begins by altering the choices you make regularly. In order to create positive change, you must string together days of positive, meaningful action. We’re all far more powerful than we could even imagine, but to achieve this we need discipline and vision.
For example, I used to be someone that never cared about their health. I began to reconsider my eating habits and decided that the person that I was at that moment in time wasn’t who I wanted to be. Did I really want to live my whole life not being healthy or not knowing how it feels to be thin and attractive?
The only better time to make a change in your life was yesterday, so you might as well start now.
I began going to the gym a few days, and my actions started to become habits (ahh the beauty of human adaptability). After a few months I was on a strict 6-day gym regiment and slightly improved my eating habits. From there, I maintained this strict workout regiment and began researching diet and nutritional information. I experimented with several diets, some of which destroyed my metabolism and others that I found to enjoy. I was eating chicken and vegetables, and would occasionally binge on sweets. Progress continued, but in the back of my mind I continued to question the morality of my diet; I pondered vegetarianism and ethically had an issue with causing suffering to another sentient being for my own survival, when in reality we fortunately live in a society where our survival as a species is no longer contingent upon killing animals. We fortunately have alternative means of meeting our nutritional needs.
For a guy that became devoted to the gym and becoming stronger, going vegetarian initially seemed counterproductive and particularly difficult considering at the time I was precooking 10 pounds of chicken in the oven every Sunday to eat throughout the week. I’m also passionate about cooking, and some of the best, most challenging dishes I’ve cooked have included meat. I would have to sacrifice some of my cooking options, possible muscle gains and the convenience of eating meat in order to live true to my values, so I continued to delay vegetarianism until I reconnected with a friend that I had gone to high school with. She had been a vegetarian since she was 12 years old, and her devotion and ability to stay true to her beliefs was enough to inspire me to make the same change. I’m now proud to say that my survival is no longer at the expense of another’s. I’m a vegetarian and it’s so satisfying knowing that even on my worst days, whether it be from work or depression, I’m not causing another sentient being pain strictly for my taste preference.
So here I stand: I’ve changed from obese and apathetic to healthy, strong and vegetarian. I’m setting out to do what others believe isn’t possible by gaining muscle on a vegetarian diet, while simultaneously knowing I’m living up to my moral standards. It all started with a change. Small changes become habits, and habits make change easier and transform who you are. I’ve been inspired by the actions of others, and am now inspiring others to question their choices, ethics and capabilities.
Check out this Ted Talk from Amy Cuddy. Amy overcame incredible odds and became someone she never thought she could be. The entire talk is wonderful, but the part I’m referencing is specifically the 16:00 minute mark and onward.
We don’t realize it, but by changing and reflecting on our choices we can alter our identity. We can become the person we want to be, we can reach our true potential.
I want to challenge you to make the choices the person you want to be would. Make the conscious effort to improve yourself and think through your actions. Age and talent are arbitrary; you just need the desire in your heart. Taking actions toward becoming who you want to be is a rewarding and life-changing experience. Once again, start small and stay consistent. Discipline and willpower are two of the most successful qualities you can develop.
I want the best for everyone; I want you to be your best self. I want you to find meaning and passion in your life. You are valuable and your life has so much meaning.
Humans are wired to adapt and change, you just need to believe it’s possible.
We’ve made leadership about changing the world, and there is no world. There’s only six billion understandings of it, and if you change one person’s understanding of it, one person’s understanding of what they’re capable of, one person’s understanding of how much people care about them, one person’s understanding of how powerful an agent for change they can be in this world, you’ve changed the whole thing.
This morning I listened to a Ted Talk that really hit home. Drew Dudley spoke on the concept of Everyday Leadership. He’s a leadership professional that made his greatest influence in collegiate leadership development programs. The idea was simple but powerful according to Drew: Let’s celebrate the small stuff. We have it in our heads that leaders are these grandiose societal contributors, but he argues we need to fundamentally transform this image to more consistently inspire action.