What motivates you?
It’s a simple question that can be answered in a variety of ways. You can look at extrinsic motivators, which are things in the world that you work hard to get. Examples of this include money, sex, fame, a new house and car.
And then you can also have intrinsic motivators. This includes goal-setting, grip, passion, curiosity, purpose, autonomy, and mastery.
When we discuss cultivating motivation, we’re discussing how we can align and tune up that entire stack of skills. Steven Kotler concedes that this isn’t an easy feat—but when you finally get the hang of it, the benefits are extraordinary.
You may think that this isn’t something you’re capable of doing. Maybe you feel different from the “greats” of this world. But in this episode, Steven Kotler and Alexander McCaig disprove that mindset. The reality is you are just as capable of peak performance as any other athlete.
It’s the first basic point of Steven Kotler’s book: all human beings are foundationally hardwired for peak performance. Our biggest challenge is learning how to work with our natural biology, so that we seamlessly enter a flow sequence that empowers us to become our best self.
What’s our instinctive response to getting something done? We try using raw grit to push ourselves through the task. And grit is trainable, but you have to work at it by pushing yourself slightly harder than you want to every single day. Grit without flow is a recipe for burnout.
The way our system is wired, we need to get some flow from an activity before we’re comfortable enough with learning how to get gritty.
Extrinsic motivators can only do so much in propelling us forward. Once we get what we want, we need to start asking ourselves: what else can we look forward to?
This is where intrinsic motivators come in. And Steven Kotler believes that it’s best to start with curiosity. Look for different curiosities that introduce more passion into your life. Learn things that catch your eye: read some books, watch a movie, listen to a lecture, take a quick class…there are so many ways to feed your curiosity.
Once you start cultivating them, you can really start looking for where they overlap and intersect. And then you can start building something that’s uniquely your own from these intersections—something that fuels your passion, because it gives you all the dopamine you need to focus.
It’s important to think of achieving peak performance as a marathon, not a sprint. This won’t happen overnight. It’s all about getting a little today and a little tomorrow, until everything compounds into the peak mindset we’re looking for.
What does our personal autonomy have to do with cultivating motivation? This was a salient part of the discussion, as TARTLE is an advocate for human rights.
If you have to do something that is not of your own choosing, Steven Kotler believes that the best way forward is to find something in the task that affords an opportunity for mastery.
At this point, Alexander McCaig shares his personal experience with rowing. Sure, it helped him get through college and he was pretty good at it. But he did not have any motivation for the sport.
“My life became a function of how low you can get a specific number over a set distance. That was the mastery, right? How do I get there? How do I get there the most efficiently?” Alexander McCaig shared, “Everything else, it paid for me to go to university at the time and all that other good stuff. But it wasn't truly something I had any passion towards. I wasn't actually intrinsically motivated to do this thing.”
When Alexander McCaig chose to leave rowing, he regained his sense of autonomy. And he shares that the benefits were twofold: first, there was a massive difference in his internal happiness. Second, he freed up more energy to focus on the things he really wanted to do.
Steven Kotler shared his experience in being diagnosed with Lyme disease, a chronic autoimmune condition that can be fatal when it reaches the brain. He was incredibly sick, and described it as having “the worst flu you’ve ever had crossed with paranoid schizophrenia.”
Neurologically, Steven Kotler struggled. He lost both short-term and long-term memory, suffered from hallucinations, couldn’t see straight, and experienced pain everywhere. This was his life for three years.
In the middle of this dark period, one of his friends demanded that he try surfing. Initially Steven Kotler laughed at this suggestion—after all, he couldn’t even walk across a room. But she insisted, and eventually he gave in. They took a trip to the beach, carried him to the shore, and handed him a board the size of the Cadillac.
And then they walked him to the lineup and he sat on his board.
“I took all the energy I had left in the world, I think, and decided I was going to try to catch that wave. And it was maybe, as I said, like a foot and a half on,” Steven Kotler explained, “But I paddled and puffed my feet and popped up into a dimension that I didn't even know existed.”
Later in the episode, he described his feeling while surfing as a “very powerful altered state experience.” And he found out that this altered consciousness is referred to as a flow state.
This flow state is incredibly similar to the state of mind that athletes used to become superhuman.
How did Steven Kotler interpret his experience of the flow state, in the context of his Lyme disease? To this, he refers to a book called The Breakout Principle by Herb Benson.
First, an autoimmune condition is caused by a nervous system going haywire. According to Herb Benson, moving into a flow state jumpstarts a release of nitric oxide. This pushes stress hormones out of our system and lets in a variety of feel-good neurochemicals in, such as dopamine and serotonin.
When Steven Kotler entered the flow state, he effectively reset his nervous system to zero. In addition, these neurochemicals are huge immune system boosters.
We most commonly see the flow state with athletes. But it can also take on a mystical form as well. Abraham Maslow, in his study of high achievers, found that their one commonality was a capacity to alter consciousness and place themselves into flow states.
Suddenly, a common thread is established between high achievers, athletes, and Steven Kotler’s experience on the waves. Everything boils down to shifting into the flow state.
Our quality of life can be improved significantly if we understand how our biology works, and what we can do to build towards our flow state. Steven Kotler’s life experiences and insights highlight the urgency for systems and foundations that give us autonomy, the freedom to pursue our curiosities and our passions.
As it turns out, there is nothing that separates us from high achievers, athletes, and mystics. We’ve got everything we need built into our human biology. What we need to work on is our capacity to induce our peak performance.
Let’s build a world where we can make that happen for everyone.
What’s your flow state worth?
Sound is something that we experience everyday. Whether through nature or through music, sound affects us for our entire lives. This can be a good and pleasing sound, like the flowing of water, or perhaps the music we enjoy. However, what happens when sound becomes noise?
Sound is a two-edged sword: in one form, it can be a powerful tool for relaxation and productivity. In another form, it could have an impact on our focus and even our overall health. Whether the passing of a train or the loud neighbors next door, noise isn’t just a nuisance. It can also be detrimental.
We’ll be discussing noise, acoustics, and their great impact on our lives. Joining Alexander McCaig is Charles Salter, one of the foremost pioneers in audio engineering. Charles Salter has done countless acoustical consulting work over his 50 years as an acoustic engineer.
There are two aspects when it comes to assessing the noise of a given area. First, are the state and federal standards that everyone must follow. These standards concern the safety of people in regards to noise, as it can have adverse effects on both health and productivity.
The second aspect, however, is a more subjective standard. This concerns the tolerance and sensitivity of the people affected by the noise. As some people are more sensitive to noise than others, acoustics must be well-designed to meet the standards of everyone affected by a given area.
For example, a hotel must meet acoustical standards because poor design can drive away clients. Another effect of poor acoustic design is the potential noise complaints that will arise.
On the other side of noise, Salter shares a case where a meeting room was too silent. The floor was carpeted, while also having an acoustic tile ceiling. This created a room that sounded dead, which made occupants uncomfortable.
And so, the acoustics of a room have to sound natural. It must not be too loud nor too silent, as both are uncomfortable and undesirable. The room has to make everyone not only relaxed, but also have good acoustics for its specific function.
Because acoustical design is so important, proper and accurate communication between the architect and acoustical consultant is key for a place to have a balance between good design and acoustics.
When you look at evolution, being able to hear has always been a requirement for humans to survive. It is a mechanism that not only allowed early humans to keep away from dangerous sounds, but also as a tool for hunting and communication.
In the modern era, sound is a bit less of a life-and-death tool, and more of a convenience. Music is one example. It is a form of entertainment and expression for people. If we had to use sound to avoid predators back then, in modern times our biggest concern is keeping away from noisy neighbors.
In acoustics, biophilia is a type of design that aims to replicate the natural sounds found in our environment. Its main objective is to reduce the stress within a room, looking to nature for inspiration when designing acoustics. Integrating biophilic design into the infrastructure of modern buildings is one way we can use the power of sound to create more conducive living and working spaces.
The noise given off by water is an example of biophilic design, because the gurgling of a stream or the cadence of a waterfall is naturally relaxing. From an evolutionary standpoint, our response to these types of sounds has been ingrained in us by our ancestors where these sounds meant that they had a source of water nearby.
Acoustic engineering has been around for a long time, improving our auditory experience of the world. A good example of this is noise-canceling technology. As the name suggests, it aims to remove unwanted noise around us. It does this by using a microphone to listen for ambient sound, and then producing sound waves of an opposite frequency.
Sound as an aspect of our existence doesn’t get enough focus. We tend to focus on visuals and whether something looks good or not, rather than focusing on both the implications of sound on our everyday lives. For us to have the space to evolve into our best selves, we should strive to design everything to be acoustically pleasant, while still aiming for its specific function.
Research and data are paramount if we want to improve physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing across the board. These not only concern those who are already struggling with illness; healthcare should also focus on being preventive, rather than waiting for people to get sick.
However, the longstanding institutions that we rely on actually create a roadblock for researchers to do their job. Instead of keeping the population healthy, institutions are merely waiting for the people to get sick. In such a set-up, are we truly maximizing the capabilities and technologies that we have developed for the good of humanity?
In today’s episode, Alexander McCaig and Jason Rigby talk about exchanging healthcare data and its importance to the world. Join them as they listen to comments made by Lex Fridman and David Sinclair on bioinformatics and more.
To gain research info regarding healthcare, companies must first collect data. Data collection gives us the opportunity to detect certain diseases, their properties, and how the human body reacts to these.
Perhaps the biggest obstruction that bioinformaticians face are the privacy and ethical concerns when collecting data. Because health institutions aren’t able to disclose and share data regarding their patients, research slows down.
With TARTLE, you have the chance to purchase datasets to help your bioinformatics research or any study for that matter. Data that is being collected by TARTLE is consensually gathered, as users share their information for financial incentives.
Data collection through TARTLE is also ethical because companies are buying ownership from consenting owners. Through this, the privacy and ethical barrier brought on by HIPAA is no longer an issue.
TARTLE benefits everybody. It gives users the power and knowledge on selling their data while paying them for doing so. It also offers companies massive amounts of datasets that they’re able to use, like medical research.
In the podcast, Alexander McCaig and Jason Rigby listen to a video of David Sinclair discussing his checkup with a doctor. Through this, we discover that proactively collecting data about one’s self gives doctors better insight into your health, more than they ever could with a simple consultation.
In addition to this, we find out that doctors may opt to not perform lab tests that are not immediately needed, or if you do not have a family history for a particular disease. They are disallowed by insurance companies who do not want to spend on anything preventive. Insurance companies only shell out money when someone is already sick.
Insurance companies are only incentivized to save money. Therefore, preventative healthcare becomes impossible for those of a lower socioeconomic profile, and thus cannot afford private lab results.
The TARTLE marketplace is one of the means for preventative healthcare to grow and develop. Because insurance companies aren’t incentivized from giving away data, nor are hospitals allowed to.
Because hospitals are a reactive system, we are not able to act on someone or gather data until someone is already sick. That is why preventative care is so important. Sickness is better understood, and hopefully lessened, in a world where we are encouraged to actively look out and test for our own health.
Hospitals are part of a system that’s economically driven, forcing people into two-dimensional systems that prioritize money before the well-being of a person. The system views unique individuals not as people, but as numbers and statistics without uniqueness.
The metric that medical institutions should focus on is the maintenance of a disease-free population. How long someone is being kept healthy or how long someone lives should be the defining statistic that healthcare systems should prioritize.
Not only this, but a deeper understanding of preventative measures is a must, that will not only lengthen the life expectancy of every individual, but empower those same individuals with the ability to sell their data. Through a higher volume of data acquisition, researchers and companies can better develop better ways to prevent sickness and disease.
What’s your data worth? Sign up for the TARTLE Marketplace through this link here.
Risk and intelligence are two factors that define the success of any organization. Information is everywhere, and yet companies and organizations are still faced with data-related challenges that hinder their development. Is information-gathering all there is to running an operation?
In this episode, Leo Tilman joins Alexander McCaig to discuss risk and its relevance to finance, strategy, and more. Leo Tilman is a leading authority on strategy and risk, who predicted the financial crisis between 2007-2008. He also authored Agility: How to Navigate the Unknown and Seize Opportunity in a World of Disruption, which is featured in this podcast.
To adapt to the everchanging uncertainties that organizations, governments, and even individuals face, agility is a must. This seven-letter word is often defined as the ability to assess and respond to changes, while making it distinct from flexibility or adaptability. What sets agility apart is that it calls for an individual to be purposefully decisive, while still grounded in the will to succeed in whatever endeavor an individual or group is facing.
Regardless of an entity’s position in the world, they are always within the environment that surrounds them. To understand what defines an individual’s or a group’s agility, we must first define the environment they are in. This is important because it helps provide insight into how agility can be expressed in those specific circumstances.
An environment consists of two components: first, the dominant trends that shape the world around us. These are the specifics of an environment, and illustrate how the environment is a dynamic entity that is capable of changing over time.
The second component refers to the fundamental nature of environments, described through theories. An example is Clausewitz’s theory on war and its accurate description of competitive environments.
An organization must be proactive in assessing the risks that it will face. Here comes the portfolio of risks, which is a set of risks that an organization must make to meet its objective. This involves multiple facets within the organization, like financial risks, strategic risks, and so on.
However, the executives of an organization need to come together and discuss the risks they face, as well as the environment they are in. By discussing and analyzing their circumstance, they’re able to determine what factors they have control over, and what they don’t.
Because of the vast amounts of data that companies and organizations have access to, it becomes a challenge to try and filter through all the data. Furthermore, companies soon realize that truly valuable information, like data about their clients or competitors, isn’t available all the time.
And so, being proactive about data-gathering is essential. By dedicating time and resources towards gathering valuable data, one can understand not only the situation but also the necessary risks needed to be taken. With that in mind, the portfolio of risks is then created.
Regardless of the amount of information that an organization has, and regardless of the strategies put in place, nothing can succeed without the human element. It is the flexibility of human beings that allows groups to move towards their goals.
It is the ability for human beings to adapt through the uncertainty of an environment, and process information that may change the status quo of their situation. Because of the complexity of the environment that anyone is in, it is up to the agility of human beings to formulate responses towards these changes.
For that reason, cultural assessments within an organization are important to move through the internal fog of data that organizations have access to. Because no matter how well we know our circumstances, our clients, or our competition, none of it matters until we first know ourselves.
How much is your data worth?
Changes in technical breakthroughs and evolving skill needs are shaping the nature of the workplace of the future. While the pandemic did not fundamentally alter the way people cooperated, it did speed up the pace of change. This increased connectivity and productivity allowed people to adjust to remote work faster.
With the world adjusting to a new life after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, how do we best utilize the tools that we have so that we can continue our levels of productivity even in remote working situations?
In this episode, Alexander McCaig discusses this issue with Phil Simon, a keynote speaker, adviser, and Zoom and Slack educator. He is also the author of eleven non-fiction works, the most recent of which is Reimagining Collaboration: Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and the Post-Covid World of Work.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of Americans working remotely more than doubled from around 30 percent to 60 percent in March 2020, and organizations began embracing new collaboration platforms such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom as part of the adjustment process as a result of this increase.
At the start of 2020, few people would be familiar with the names of even one of these tools, much alone all of them. Several of us are now working remotely as a consequence of COVID-19, and Zoom has been so widely used that it has become a verb: to "Zoom" means to communicate using video conferencing technology.
When businesses were forced to close and employees were required to wear masks, just a few businesses were allowed to continue operations as usual. The vast majority of people were entirely unprepared for the enormous changes that were about to take place in their lives. When it came to internal communication, they continued to rely on email as well as on typical corporate processes and attitudes.
To cope with COVID-19’s repercussions on corporate organizations, employers, human resource managers, and consultants were obliged to think creatively about how they might implement a remote work strategy. Businesses had an urgent need to alter these barriers in dealing with the international economic instability caused by the virus.
If a shift to a new system is the path moving forward, what possible methods can businesses use to better utilize the tools that we currently have in this day and age?
Phil Simon suggests that companies should start embracing the Hub-Spoke model of collaboration. This model is a technique of distribution wherein a centralized "hub" operates. From the hub, products are sent outward to smaller groups known as spokes for further storage and delivery.
With this model, it aims to help firms significantly increase staff productivity, simplify current business procedures, and provide the basis for subsequent machine-learning and artificial intelligence advances.
The hub may be thought of as a meta-organization that functions in parallel to established innovation laboratories. Employees at the innovation-hub can connect informally over the web and work freely on innovation to bolster the firm's performance.
Efficiency should not be dependent on one factor alone. While the hub-spokes model creates a more systematic approach in revamping business models to fit the current situation, it is best to have it hand-in-hand with tried and tested organizational techniques.
By adopting particular initiatives and establishing a culture that supports their virtual workforce, executives may boost their teams' performance output and engagement. They must build and sustain a culture of trust, as well as modernize leadership communication methods and procedures in order to properly educate virtual personnel.
Additionally, team members must be encouraged to share leadership. Finally, executives must establish and conduct frequent alignment checks to ensure that virtual workers adhere to the organization's cultural values, including their commitment to its goals.
All of these procedures begin with the realization that team formation will be significantly different with remote members, demanding the creation of new leadership strategies, communication routines, and tools.
In a world where social distancing and remote work has become the new normal, it is now more important than ever to make good use of the current technologies we have to be just as productive as before the pandemic hit the globe.
In Simon’s concluding statements, he deems it important that for a collaborative system to work, employees must be willing to commit to the shift fully. Problems will surely arise when employees refuse to use certain technologies because they either find it too complicated or too time-consuming to actually learn new things instead of going the more traditional route of working.
The willingness to change is always the first step towards growth. Just as the world has changed, we must also be willing to adapt to this change. Resistance will always be a hindrance to progress, just as the refusal to learn denies a person the chance to be more efficient and productive.
It is part of TARTLE’s vision to create a world where knowledge is shared and problems are solved through a collective and collaborative effort. We believe that teamwork is power, and collaboration is the key to progress. The power is back in your hands.
What’s your data worth? Sign up for the TARTLE Marketplace through this link here.