Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Power of Two

What would happen if you took two people and teamed them up to accomplish a goal? Return a few months later, and you might find them working well together and getting the job done. Or you might find them at each other’s throats and accomplishing less than if they had worked independently.

An interesting puzzle lies between those extremes. Why do some partnerships succeed while others fail? Why do some people click while others clash?


One of the most neglected areas of human relationships is an understanding of what happens when two people team up to accomplish a task. Many books have been published to help readers understand themselves. Many more have been written about what makes a high-performing team or a great manager. But little has been done to guide two collaborators through their journey to reach a common goal.

People typically think of partnerships as formal arrangements, like the legal agreements between attorneys or between entrepreneurs. But a partnership — good or bad — exists whenever two people double up to accomplish an objective. Two students working on a term paper are partners until it is written. Two coaches of a kids’ soccer team are partners until the season ends. Two accountants assigned to complete a financial audit are partners until the work is done. Although poorly understood, these relationships are crucial to your success and happiness.

Humans are made for collaboration. Our blood pressure rises and falls based on whether allies or enemies are nearby. We eat similar amounts when dining together. We laugh, not so much because something is funny, but because laughter is a kind of social glue. (A person is 30 times more likely to laugh when he’s with someone else than when he is alone.)

One person observing another rehearses in his own mind what the other is doing. A network of “mirror neurons” throughout the brain creates the empathy we need to see the partnership from the other person’s perspective. We unconsciously adjust our grammar and word choices to match what someone else already said — a subconscious way of signaling “I agree with you.” This kind of mimicry, one study found, “is automatic and reflects the fact that humans are designed for dialogue rather than monologue.”

The mere presence of a collaborator alters a person’s perception of the world around her. When experimenters filled a transparent box with potatoes and asked volunteers to guess its weight, people who were told someone else would be helping them lift the box estimated it to be lighter than those who believed they would have to pick it up by themselves. “These results suggest we may see the world not only through our own eyes but also through the eyes of the groups we form,” wrote one researcher. “We plan our actions guided partly by what we think we can achieve with others.”

In a world that emphasizes individual achievement — the star salesperson, the MVP, the soloist — we forget that everyone is descended from millions of ancestors who survived because they didn’t go it alone. Today, failing to form partnerships will handicap your career and decrease your happiness. In the past, it could get you killed.

In the many dangerous generations that molded human nature, our predecessors’ survival required not only strong bones and muscles, resistance to disease, and the ability to make tools, but also the ability to collaborate — to discern, trust, sacrifice, empathize, and intelligently combine their work with someone else.

For our predecessors, survival “depended on dealing with their neighbors: sometimes helping them, sometimes ignoring them, sometimes exploiting them, sometimes liking them, sometimes hating them — and having a sense for which people warrant which sort of treatment, and when they warrant it,” wrote Robert Wright in his book The Moral Animal . “The evolution of human beings has consisted largely of adaptation to one another.” Hunters who worked together were more likely to return with a kill. Two men who made a pact to help each other improved their odds of fending off mutual enemies.

Along the way, humans developed exceptionally large brains, organs that are expensive in biological terms. The brain accounts for only 3% of the body’s weight, but it consumes 20% of the oxygen and glucose a person takes in. An organ that needy must justify its fuel bill, and it does. We need nimble, adaptable brains to navigate the terrain of our large and complex social networks. People “probably encounter no problems more challenging than those of dealing with other members of their community,” wrote one observer. “Judging whom to trust, forming alliances, keeping score of favors given and received — all were necessities made easier by greater cognitive ability.”

Yet for all our instincts, most of us today don’t fully exploit our collaborative potential. Gallup research reveals that the median number of work partnerships for an American employee is four, but there is a tremendous range around that number. When asked how many strong alliances they have, most people say they have one or two, maybe three or four. The small proportion of people who say they have dozens of close teammates raises the average for a population that is generally partnership-poor. “In thinking through my best and worst work partnerships, I keep seeing more experiences in the ‘worst’ column and a sparsely populated ‘best’ section,” said one manager at a medical device manufacturer.

The most common number of work partnerships — the answer given by 16% of the U.S. adult population — is zero! Asked if they have ever had a great partnership at work, about one quarter of employees say no.

The more partnerships you have, the better. Even one strong collaborative relationship markedly increases your wellbeing over those who are going it alone. Compared with their isolated coworkers, those with just one collaborative relationship are 29% more likely to say they will stay with their company for the next year and 42% more likely to intend to remain with their current employer for their entire career. Those who feel well teamed with one or more colleagues are substantially more engaged at work; they generate higher customer scores, safety, retention, creativity, productivity, and profitability for the business and a greater level of happiness for themselves. On the other end of the scale, isolation creates a health risk on par with smoking. Solitary confinement is considered by many a form of torture but many people impose it on themselves in their daily lives.

“The sad thing is that I’ve never had a successful partnership,” one businessperson said. “I’ve been thrown into the leadership role in every single ‘group project’ or organized group outside or inside of schooling. Every time, I have become the leader, ended up doing the majority of the work, and gotten the majority of the credit. I’ve learned — again, sadly — that I’m better at taking care of my responsibilities myself and not depending on others for creative success in my personal, artistic, or professional futures.”

One of the reasons partnerships fail is that every cooperative instinct is matched by a competitive reflex: deep-seated desires to not be taken advantage of, to come out on top, or to extract revenge. Not knowing what to expect from a new counterpart, every potential collaborator faces a friend-or-foe dilemma. While failing to work together was often fatal to ancient humans, so was being fooled by an adversary. Fearful of being made a fool or wanting to win, many people play it safe, failing to put enough of themselves on the line to start a collaboration. And when they do, their counterparts often fail to reciprocate.

But many people who are slow to make peaceful overtures are not afraid to go to battle stations at the first hint of hostilities. As a consequence, acrimonious relationships are at least as common as partnerships. Bickering over anything from office locations to a piece of legislation can collapse into years of animosity.

The double-edged nature of social instincts means that collaboration requires much more than just pairing up two people and pointing them up the mountain. When two companies sign a “joint marketing agreement” and team up their salespeople, some pairs inevitably fail. “In good relationships, reps work cooperatively, openly, and effectively as true partners,” found one study of joint sales efforts. “In poor relationships, reps withhold information from each other; point fingers when someone ‘drops the ball’; question the competence, integrity, and standards of the partner; and express a high degree of frustration with, and negativity toward, the partnering concept.”

Great partnerships don’t just happen. If both partners don’t really need the talents of the other, there is no reason to team up. If they lack a common mission — the foundation of any joint endeavor — the two will work at cross-purposes. If they don’t divide the work and rewards fairly, one of the collaborators will take his marbles and go home. Without a willingness by each of them take substantial risks, and reciprocation from both of them, they will never develop the rhythm of trust that defines collaboration.

The alliance will implode unless both learn to accept the idiosyncrasies of the other. If one of them betrays the other, he unleashes powerful, negative reactions, and the relationship can be extricated only with great difficulty. Unless partners learn to communicate well, they will eventually knock heads or make deal-wrecking assumptions about the other’s intentions. Failure on any one of these aspects can destroy the alliance.

In the rare circumstances when all these obstacles are overcome, partnerships can become not just effective in accomplishing the mission, but personally rewarding — sometimes intensely so. Researchers call this “mutuality,” a phenomenon when a natural concern for one’s own welfare transforms into a deep satisfaction in seeing one’s counterpart do well. Those who have reached this level say such collaborations become among the most fulfilling aspects of their lives. It is one thing to have accomplished a great goal alone, they say, but these individual achievements cannot compare to doing great things together.

Ultimately, the same cooperative instincts that allowed our distant ancestors to survive can bring greater success and happiness to us if we apply them in our most important undertakings.

“Behind this phenomenon is a principle: Build on your strengths. To mitigate your weaknesses — and we all have them — partner up! Find your complement.”

Everyone faces challenges where success is anything but certain. If you overcome them, chances are, you won’t do it alone.

by Rodd Wagner and Gale Muller

Live and Learn. We All Do.

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Oil And Gas Industry Claim Sky Is Pink

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Together We Expand Possibilities And Transcend Limitations

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Friday, January 11, 2013

To Love And Be Loved Is The Greatest Joy On Earth

It is very clear to any serious student of society that all human beings share the same needs, desires, and, to a large degree, even symbolism, regardless of race, color, creed or culture. What every human being enjoys and wants can be defined as Love, Power and Harmony.


Love is part of our nature. It is the state of feeling happily connected to another, or the act of becoming connected. It is extending our self to include another. We do not have to strive for love unless we feel we do not have it. When human beings gather under circumstances where there is no fear, love simply happens.

Close proximity and a lack of fear produce love without effort.

In times of danger love also manifests naturally. When there is a disaster or an accident, people who are not locked in fear automatically begin to assist the ones who need help. They don’t have to be taught or instructed, except in how to help better. The desire to help, which is a form of love, arises spontaneously. This automatic love response is so great that some people will put their own lives at great risk to help another person. We call such people heroes when they jump into raging rivers to save someone from drowning, or run into a burning building to bring out a child, or do any one of a hundred other brave things to help another. And yet, few of these people think of themselves as heroes. Most of the time they say they did it because it was the thing to do, or they did it without thinking. But, it was a spontaneous act of love.

Doubt is the one thing that weakens the connection of love. When a person doubts the existence of love, then fear is born and love begins to die. Fear interferes with love because it is the opposite of love. Fear comes from feeling or being disconnected. When love diminishes, fear increases; and when fear diminishes, love increases. More than that, when love diminishes, fear increases and so does the need and desire for love.

The need and desire to love and be loved influence all our actions and reactions to the degree that we feel a lack of love in any form. In addition to the powerful force of sexual love, we are also driven by a love for approval and recognition. Many of our behaviors are guided by the hope of approval, or the reaction to disapproval. And many are guided by a quest for recognition, however small or temporary, especially when affection and approval do not seem imminent. Great acts that benefit all of society and vicious acts that harm society may both come from the need and desire for recognition. When recognition is lacking some people will force it by seeking respect, perhaps through doing something worthwhile, or perhaps through achieving a false respect by causing fear.

When there is sufficient frustration in satisfying the need and desire for love of any kind, the result is mental or physical sickness. This happens when the fear that results from the lack of love has no outlet. When, according to the beliefs of the individual, there is nothing that can be done, the fear causes a withdrawal inward, producing great tension on the body and therefore illness.

Power is part of our nature. Like love, we do not have to strive for power unless we feel we do not have it. Power itself is the act of being effective. From the very moment of conception we are all in the process of expressing our power, of doing that which is effective for our survival and our pleasure. From then on, in every moment of our lives, we are engaged in expressing our power, more or less effectively. Physically, our bodies are engaged in maintenance, repair, growth, learning and pleasure-seeking. Mentally, our minds are engaged in problem-solving, creativity and extending our influence into the world around us.

We are always powerful, but for many reasons we may not always realize it. When the expression of power is not effective, the natural reaction is to seek a different solution to a problem or to find another way of being effective. Inventors may experiment with thousands of different approaches before their inventions work; sports teams may try dozens of different strategies to win against their opponents; politicians may devise many different economic and social plans to achieve their ends. Individually, people try different healing techniques and approaches, different careers, different relationships, and different religions with the aim of being more effective in their lives.

Again, doubt is the one thing that weakens the natural expression of power. When a person doubts his or her personal power, or source of power, then anger is born and power begins to flee. As power decreases, anger increases; and as anger decreases, power increases. And, as with love, when power decreases, so does anger as well as the need and desire for power.

The most popular technique for trying to regain power while doubt and anger are still operating is control. Many people confuse power with control, but control is what people use when they are feeling powerless. Active control is used to force people to do what you want. It usually takes the form of intimidation or physical force. Passive control, also called passive aggression, takes the form of getting people to do what you want by refusing to act, or by making them feel guilty enough to do what you want. Besides being bad for relationships and effectiveness, the attempt to control causes a lot of tension in the controller.

When control isn’t possible, another technique sometimes used is vandalism. A child who feels hurt and powerless may break things to display anger. This seldom works to control parents, but it does get a reaction, and that substitute for effectiveness brings a little satisfaction, at least. The child thinks, “I can’t get what I want, but at least I can make someone unhappy.” It is a very poor substitute for effectiveness, but it can progress from childhood tantrums to teenage vandalism to adult terrorism. And of course it brings tension with it.

However, when there is no outlet for the anger and no return to real power the anger is directed inward and the result is mental and physical illness.

Finally, there is the natural inclination toward harmony. By harmony I mean the mutually beneficial integration and cooperation of people with their social and natural environment. We can see this most easily in isolated tribal groups, but it exists also in many small communities, neighborhoods, groups, clubs and associations. We may see attempts to create harmony by national governments and the United Nations, but the larger the group the more difficult it seems to be. This partly because the larger the group the easier it is for it to be more impersona. That is, the easier it is to lose a sense of connection and personal influence.

But harmony involves more than that; it really has to do with a sense of one’s place and purpose in the world, and a recognition of interdependence with the rest of the world. When a person doubts that interdependence and doubts one’s own place and purpose within it, then alienation is born. Instead of “you and I or we and they together” it becomes “me or us against them.” Alienation, which often includes extreme restlessness, apathy, confusion and despair, creates great internal tension and, of course, mental and physical illness.

The solution for illness caused by fear is to be more loving, by giving more acknowledgement, appreciation, admiration, tolerance, mercy, caring and help to others and to yourself. The solution for illness caused by anger is to increase your knowledge, skill, and self confidence. The solution for illness caused by alienation is to first seek spiritual harmony with a higher or deeper being, and then look for that spirit in all things.

If you want a quick fix, though, because of the ultra-fast pace of modern life, then simply cease to doubt. Keep a healthy skepticism whenever necessary, but refuse to doubt your own value, the value of others, and the value of the world.

Live and Learn. We All Do.

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Monday, January 7, 2013

Muhammad Ali’s Advice To His Daughters

Muhammad Ali, he was perhaps the most celebrated sports figure in the world during most of the 1960s and ’70s. His rise to prominence may be attributed to a combination of circumstances his role as a spokesman for and idol of blacks; his vivacious personality; his dramatic conversion to the Black Muslim religion; and most important, his staying power as an athlete. Ali first came to world attention in 1960, when he won the Olympic light-heavyweight championship. He then won a controversial championship bout from Sonny Liston in 1964 to gain the heavyweight title.


An incident transpired when Muhammad Ali’s daughters arrived at his home wearing clothes that were quite revealing.

Here is the story as told by one of his daughters:

“When we finally arrived, the chauffeur escorted my younger sister, Laila, and me up to my father’s suite. As usual, he was hiding behind the door waiting to scare us. We exchanged many hugs and kisses as we could possibly give in one day.

My father took a good look at us. Then he sat me down on his lap and said something that I will never forget. He looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Hana, everything that God made valuable in the world is covered and hard to get to.

Where do you find diamonds?

Deep down in the ground, covered and protected.

Where do you find pearls?

Deep down at the bottom of the ocean, covered up and protected in a beautiful shell.

Where do you find gold? Way down in the mine, covered over with layers and layers of rock. You’ve got to work hard to get to them.”

He looked at me with serious eyes.

“Your body is sacred. You’re far more precious than diamonds and pearls, and you should be covered too.”

Courtesy: Black Dads Rock.

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Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Power of Freedom of Information Act Requests

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