Jim's Ideology

This list is provided for those who care to know a little more about me (or at least the way I prefer to think and frame things). This list started as an effort to put into writing those ideas that help me focus, re-balance, and ground myself from the noise that permeates our modern day life.



Me
  • Strive to have a deep and pervasive appreciation for all aspects of your life no matter what the situation or how “unfair” it may be (or seem to be).
  • Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.
  • Everything is always changing. At any minute, all of your plans can change.
  • Consider your locus-of-control and self-efficacy daily.
  • What can/should you throw away today?
  • Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. Knowledge and understanding tend to decrease or eliminate suffering.
  • "It is what it is". For me, this phrase is a reminder to face and accept the truth of a matter, not an excuse to do nothing about it.
  • Distinguish your rocks from your pebbles.
  • Be confident not cocky; assured not arrogant.
 
People
  • Maximize the well-being of all humans while minimizing the negative effects on other creatures. 
  • Enhance the lives of others – think about what this really means at all levels.
  • Assume Positive Intent
  • No one knows as much, or as little, as you think they do.
  • Confidence and understanding tend to be inversely related.
  • People rarely know what they really want. We think we know, but we are, more often than not, wrong.
  • People really do want to help. They want to be a part of something and feel they have contributed.
  • In order that people may be happy in their work, these three things are needed: They must be fit for it. They must not do too much of it. And they must have a sense of success in it. 
  • I don't like that man. I must get to know him better. - Abraham Lincoln
Work
  • Make things better.
  • Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action. ~ Frank Tibolt.
  • Everything is hard -- keep working, and remember that life is just one damn thing after another.
  • If you're not solving problems anyone can do your job (and will likely do it for less money).
  • Look past the short term goal/request to the true goal/need. Be insightful, "What are you really trying to do and why?", instead of lazy, "How do you want me to help you?"
    • Accurately define the wants; then determine and deliver what is really needed.
  • Watch out for the "...then a miracle happens..." holes in a plan. These "gaps" are typically hard to see and are buried among a whole lot of sunshine and promises of what life will be like once the project/request is finished. These gaps must be found and addressed as early as possible.
  • Fix it at the source, or as far upstream as possible.
  • Strive to have and maintain a long term focus on your work efforts.
  • If I spend all my time on today’s work, I will never accomplish anything beyond daily tasks. If I don’t spend any time on today’s work I’ll never have an opportunity to reach or work on tomorrow’s goals. So to build tomorrow you must balance today’s work with proper planning, communication, and documentation.
  • Action (faster, lower controls); Administration (slower, higher controls); therefore you must flexibly balance the two, act now if possible & within reason, then modify and fix things later to account for mistakes, new conditions, and new information.
  • Good, Better, Best - Sometimes you must settle for Good.
  • Programs consists of input, output, processing and storage. Lose focus of that and your project will be late, over budget and most likely broken in ways no one will understand for years.

Failure
  • Failures are progress. Expect them. They provide information. They are absolutely necessary for success. If you are not failing, you are not learning or growing.
  • When asked how it feels to have failed thousands of times to create an electric filament, Thomas Edison responded, "I have not failed, not once.  I’ve discovered ten thousand ways that don’t work."
  • Never beat yourself up for past decisions based on new information. Learn if you can, then move on.
Success
  • There is no magic. Successes sold as magic are in reality either dumb luck or the result of a tremendous amount of work that you were not shown.
  • Rare is the idea or talent that rewards, rarer still is the hard work that goes unrewarded.
  • Critical mass verses the journey. Critical Mass seems to be everyone’s goal, but it is rarely obtained and those people capable of reaching it are rarely satisfied by it, instead they seem to enjoy the journey. So learn to enjoy the journey.
  • Obtaining and maintaining a positive mental attitude is not accomplished the way many would have you believe.
Knowledge & Learning
  • The Relativity of Wrong - Asimov
  • The processes and standards you use to gain and refine knowledge are as important and sometimes more important than the knowledge itself.
  • Different types of evidence carry different weights. When possible, consider the evidence using the light of statistical standards and don't forget about sampling bias, sampling rules, and randomised, double-blind, peer reviewed studies
  • Develop your own Baloney Detection Kit. Here's a great video version. Here's a link to the original written version. Here's another good version by Michael Shermer.
  • Critical Thinking is critical. Develop a toolbox.
  • Don't marry your beliefs; question them. When you do, be prepared for some of them to leave you or you may find the need to leave them. Your beliefs should always be subject to new evidence. 
Miscellaneous
  • Trust is the foundation of absolutely everything we value as humans from the mundane (e.g., breathing and walking) to the life threatening (e.g., driving and flying) to the life changing (e.g. marriage and investing).
  • The Science of Luck. Research has revealed that lucky people generate their own good fortune based on four basic principles:
    • A person is skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities,
    • He makes lucky decisions by listening to his intuition,
    • He creates self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations, and
    • He adopts a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.
  • "I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it." - Thomas Jefferson
  • Equilibrium – All things tend to move toward one; take advantage of this when you can and remember that changes which effect the equilibrium are VASTLY superior.
  • Bargaining has neither friends nor relations. – Ben Franklin
  • Thinking and documenting are vastly under utilized.
  • Happiness is the only good. The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here. The way to be happy is to make others so. ~ Robert Green Ingersoll