Skip to main content


Showing posts from March 24, 2013

The Only Way Is Through -- Writer's Poke #438

If you visit Jamaica, you might end up at Dunn’s River Falls. And if you do, I won’t think any less of you. The idea behind this attraction is neat enough: Start at the bottom and climb your way to the top. Is it worth $50 a person for the experience? I’ll leave that up to you and your budget to decide; keep in mind that the cost includes the ride there and back, which can be a fun adventure in itself. However, it doesn’t include a lot of “hidden” costs…
Other than the high price of admission, the problems with Dunn’s River Falls are many. First, prepare for it to be insanely overcrowded. On days when cruise ships are in port, as many as 7,000 tourists will be trying to make their way to the top with you that same day. In other words, you will be holding hands with strangers from top to bottom, and you’ll probably be more preoccupied with people than you will be with the “amazing experience” you would be having if you were by yourself or with a small, intimate group. As long as you’re …

Happy Accidents -- Writer's Poke #437

Serendipity, by definition, implies “happy little accidents,” and no one plans for accidents, right? Accidents, by definition, just happen.
The serendipity of success, however, isn’t quite as accidental as it may seem. Success may be serendipitous, but if it is, most of the time there’s an underlying element of planning involved.
Successful people, in other words, work to be successful. They plan to be successful; they are motivated to be successful. Could someone accidently trip over success? Perhaps, but how likely is it that such success is long-lasting? Not very likely, I would say.
So how did the painter Bob Ross have so many “happy little accidents?” He had them by actively painting. He wasn’t seeking mistakes, but if he made them, he turned them into opportunities. Some people might immediately stop painting and start over with a new canvas. Ross didn’t. He simply incorporated the mistake into the painting, and the painting was inevitably all the better for it. 
This is a life les…

That Smarts -- Writer's Poke #436

Beyond the Tree -- Writer's Poke #435

In Disc Golf, a player throws a disc at a goal. Sounds simple enough, but often times, the person throwing the disc must avoid trees and other obstacles. Avoiding a big tree should be easy enough, but when the focus becomes the tree and not the goal, “ironic effect” error can come into play – much to the detriment of the poor tree.
Why is it so easy to focus on the obstacle or the problem rather than the goal or the solution? Well, in the case of the tree in the above example, it sometimes becomes the most obvious place to focus. It may, in fact, literally hide the goal from view. The goal is there, but it’s out-of-sight.
When I first started playing Disc Golf, one person taught me to turn my back to the goal. Visual the goal in your mind, he said, and approach the shot mentally. Know where the obstacles are, yes, but don’t make the obstacles the focus. Make the goal the focus.
Blind people play Disc Golf, and some do really well. I’ve often thought that the blind might have an advanta…

Expert in Training -- Writer's Poke #434

Who are more dangerous: A) people who know quite a bit, and feel confident in what they know, or B) people who know quite a bit, but who also recognize the limitations of their knowledge?
Confidence. It’s a good thing, right, but confidence can lead to arrogance. Arrogance is not such a good thing, is it? Is it possible to determine when someone, maybe even yourself, has crossed over the line from confidence to arrogance? Maybe, but not always.
Now, think of what it means to be skeptical. Skepticism may develop through expertise, or it may develop through ignorance. Either way, skeptics should know what drives their skepticism, but how many think of doubting in those terms?
One more point to consider: Assumed expertise might be the most crippling form of ignorance. Unfortunately, since many people trust the views of those they assume to be experts, assumed experts have the ability to spread ignorance to the confidently unenlightened.
What’s the solution? Be aware of what you think you k…

And Crawl If You Must -- Writer's Poke #433

I like that science can demonstrate limits. For example, physics can show that the farthest a batter could ever hit a baseball is 748 feet. Keep in mind that no major league player has ever hit a ball farther than 565 feet, and that record has stood for 60 years. Nevertheless, science knows that an ideal pitcher could throw a ball 111 miles per hour, and a 6 foot 8 inch, 247 pound batter could hit a ball 748 feet. That’s cool.
Many times in life, we don’t know the limitations. Fact: many of us don’t realize that the limitations don’t apply to us. They might exist, but they should have nothing to do with us striving to maximize our potential. In other words, we are often our own worst limitation in life.
Why don’t more people try to achieve their dreams? Why is “I can’t” such a common phrase? To a certain extent, “I can’t” is something learned from the experience of immediate failure – it’s something, immediate failure, that little kids pick up on quite quickly. Why? Because potential …

Repeat -- Writer's Poke #432

If you go into your favorite restaurant, do you have a good idea what you’ll order before you look at the menu? Even so, you still look at the menu, right? Why? Social convention? Or, is it actually possible that you might order the Spam and peanut butter sandwich?
If you’re at home and need to go to the store to pick up some household items, where do you go? If you normally go to Target for these items, how likely is it that you will, on a whim, decide to go some place different? Have you ever ended up at Shopko if you always shop at Target?
What about when you wake up in the morning, and you need to get ready to go to work? Is it pretty likely that you have a developed routine that you more or less follow? I bet you even know how much time you need to complete this routine. And if you drive to work, you have a designated route, don’t you? How often do you try different routes? For that matter, how often do you think to carpool or walk or bike or take the bus? In other words, even tho…

Perceptions of the Popes -- Writer's Poke #431

I’ve been thinking about two ideas: “Honeymoon period” and “Lame duck.” Strange concepts, both, but both quite psychologically real.
Take the position of the Pope, for example. The new Pope is in a honeymoon period. Almost every day, it seems, a new story comes out about the Pope, and most people seem to like what this new guy’s about. He makes his own telephone calls, he pays his own hotel bills, and he washes the feet of inmates at a youth prison. He says he wants to be the “People’s Pope.”
Anyway, people love this guy. Catholics and non-Catholics alike think he’s great. Some call him a “step in the right direction,” and others call him “a breath of fresh air.” Question: Are his policies all that much different from the old Pope? It doesn’t seem to matter if they are or not. He is, after all, in the Honeymoon phase of his reign, and people aren’t focused on his policies. They certainly aren’t concerned about his “legacy.”
The lame duck, however, does have a legacy to worry about, and e…