Archive for May, 2007


Body Learning

Body Learning: An Introduction to the Alexander TechniqueBody Learning by Michael Gelb is an interesting introduction to the Alexander Technique. My succinct version of the Alexander Technique is that everything is easier with poise and that our poor habits replace our natural poise with persistent tensions. Gelb clarified several key ideas in this book.

One key is that our kinesthetics about what feels right are really what feels habitual and so when making changes we typically need external validation through another person or even a mirror. This is an interesting validation for life coaches and accountability in general.

Another key is that in order to make changes using the Alexander Technique you can not just barrel straight towards your desired outcome. If you do this “endgaining” you will just trigger all your old habits and end up in the same position as (or worse than) when you began. To counter this Gelb shares Alexander’s ideas of inhibition and direction. Both of these ideas are common in NLP (Bandler is fond of interrupting a pattern and setting a new direction as an intervention). I never thought to apply them to physical processes in addition to mental. In either situation the value is clear: you need to remove the old behavior to “make room” for a new behavior.

I’m curious what habits you could interrupt today.
What will you put in their place?

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Cardio-Free Diet

As we continue the summer book review series we have a few titles that are more bodily oriented.

The Cardio-Free DietThe Cardio-Free Diet by Jim Karas caught my eye and piqued my interest. Karas suggests that the usual prescription of endless aerobic exercise will not help with weight loss. Since my own interest is in fitness rather than just a number on the scale I was interested in what Karas suggests as an alternative — weight training twenty minutes three times a week. He includes a workout using exer-bands, a free weight workout, and the requisite eating plan with recipes.

This is a good starting point if you are entirely sedentary — anything that gets you off your butt is good! However, exercise is similar to religion: you will see results from following what you believe and what fits with your lifestyle. While writing this I realized that in order for me personally to stick with a fitness/nutrition plan there has to be some fantasy element. I need to think I’m becoming an astronaut or a Roman legionaire or Jet Li or a spec ops warrior. Which inspires me to re-read my favorites and share them with you!

What does fitness have to do with learning? First of all, I’ve not met anyone who did not have an intimate connection between their brain and their body (no brains in jars). Emotional states are directly connected with memory, concentration, and learning. Emotions are “triggered” by our bodies — either through our neurochemistry or more directly by our position and posture — and are generally more positive with regular exercise.

What acts of mental/physical fitness are you inspired towards today?

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Tactical Entrepreneur

Let us start the week with another review and some bonuses!

Tactical Entrepreneur by Brian Hazelgren is a guidebook for taking a business idea (or the idea of going into business) and turning it into a conventional bricks and mortar business with you at the helm as Chief Entrepreneur!

Hazelgren does a good job of putting the fun back in the fundamentals of business ownership. He is straight forward that owning your own business is hard work and then lays out the full plan of what work is involved. The appendices have some good articles and an extensive example business plan for a manufacturing company.

Hazelgren does not cover much related to Internet businesses specifically. However, if you are looking at starting a “real world” business I heartily recommend this book. He covers writing a business plan, the pros and cons of the different business structures, and on up through hiring and even expansion.

And as we’ve seen in past book promotions if you pick up a copy today you can get a slew of bonuses.

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Lessons From Odd Sources

This week’s reading wrapped up on a lighter note. I would never have guessed that I would find life lessons in either of these books.

Remove Child Before Folding: The 101 Stupidest, Silliest, and Wackiest Warning Labels EverFirst up is Remove Child Before Folding: The 101 Stupidest, Silliest, and Wackiest Warning Labels Ever by Bob Dorigo Jones. While I might argue with the accuracy of the subtitle, this was a fun read. I am fascinated by how the book came into existence and by the work Jones does with Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch (google M-LAW for more info).

To paraphrase Jones’s introduction: you won’t know whether to laugh or cry. The appropriate response while reading appears to be about 85% entertained and 15% outraged. Afterwards those should switch.

Survivor: A NovelThe other random read was actually a re-read of the novel Survivor. I am a big fan of Palahniuk’s work. I’m convinced that he browses the DSM in order to find the most inappropriate mix of disorders he can give his characters.

All in all a recipe for a fun romp through the lives of another cast of disfunctional Palahniuk characters in the most awful situations. NOT recommended for the easily offended.

Start with Palahniuk’s scathing commentary on fame and the media. Mix in some highly quotable lines and utterly ridiculous situations. Top with jabs at the upper middle class to taste. Bake at 425 for 40 minutes.

And somehow we can extract some great lessons on how we delude ourselves. Take for example the “quick fix.”

More and more everything in my life was a fix for an earlier fix for an earlier fix until I forget what the original problem was.

How many “quick fixes” have you applied recently and how many problems have you solved?
Are you taking responsibility for the results of your actions or looking for someone to blame (and sue)?

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Relaxation Response

Today’s book is The Relaxation Response by Herbert Benson, M.D.

The Relaxation ResponseDr. Benson presents some exciting research results in the blandest, driest way possible. I can not fathom why he spends quite so much time on approval processes and waiver forms when describing experiments they’ve performed.

The nearly thirty page introduction to the 25th anniversary edition appears to contain the bulk of the interesting information. For those who want to save their money at the used book store here is the gist. By focusing on a repetitive stimulus (a word, mantra, prayer, motion, breath, visual fixation, etc) and allowing yourself to return from distraction with a passive attitude (free from judgement or worry) you can elicit the “Relaxation Response” which is the antithesis of (and possibly the antidote to) the fight-or-flight response. Benson also includes a laundry list of conditions that can be helped by their straight forward method.

As always I am enthused by unexpected synergies and this time I find Benson’s approach to relieving stress (which he defines as “environmental conditions that require behavioral adjustment”) highly complementary to the idea of lifelong learning espoused in Change or Die.

One of my take-aways from Change of Die was another view on how to maintain the wonderful plasticity of the human mind — by continuing to stretch your mind in new directions. However it was suggested that what most adults consider learning is not enough to maintain their plasticity. Deutschman says we need challenge — enough challenge that we are struggling as raw beginners. The rub is that those are exactly the sort of situations that Benson defines as stress and would benefit from eliciting the relaxation response for 10-20 minutes a day.

How much benefit will you extract from tweaking the time you already spend in prayer, exercise, or meditation to include a bit more focus and passive attitude?

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Change or Die

Sunday’s book was Change or Die by Alan Deutschman.

Change or Die: The Three Keys to Change at Work and in LifeIn spite of being based on one of the author’s Fast Company articles (I have mixed feelings about FC) this book is a great example of modeling and language patterns. Change or Die opens with the statistic that nine out of ten people when presented with a life threatening situation, such as clogged arteries, do not change their lifestyle!

In The No Asshole Rule Sutton presented many studies as facts and stories as opinions but seems to have missed any real theory tying things together. Deutschman goes so much further and shows how his “keys to change” theory fits nearly every form of therapy or radical lifestyle change he explores. He compares and contrasts the “conventional strategy” (facts, fear, and force) with his three keys (relate, repeat, and reframe). Deutschman also adds an air of authority by presenting nine “psych concepts” that mesh nicely with his three keys.

Deutschman takes seemingly disparate examples of change and explains them all with his three keys. I found myself applying his keys to major changes I’ve seen and experienced. Simpleology is a great example. Joyner invites you into a relationship with himself and the community embodied in the forum. You repeat first the new facts and concepts, then your daily praxis. MJ also does a wonderful job of building new ways of looking at the world and your tasks that allow you to reach your goals.

Another reason I’m so impressed with Change or Die is that Deutschman presents a number of language patterns and fundamental NLP concepts. Some are obvious such as frames and reframing. Others are more subtle such as recasting your lifestory. When taken together with his wide ranging examples and easy to read style Deutschman quickly made it onto my list of authors to watch.

How far can you take these simple keys in changing your own life?

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The Art of Starting (Book Reviews)

The end of the semester is high stress for both teachers and students. My semester officially ended on Friday and to celebrate I’ve started my summer reading.

The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting AnythingSaturday afternoon I finally finished The Art of the Start. Samples of Guy’s writing are out there on his blog and in his ChangeThis manifesto/sampler. I like the book and expect to swipe some of his business plan ideas soon. Part of the reason it has taken me weeks to get through the book is that the later half is focused more on venture capital, which is not my focus at the moment.

The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn'tSaturday evening I read The No Asshole Rule, one of Guy’s recommended reads. I was not horribly impressed. Love the theory, just not enthused with the delivery. Besides deciding long ago that I am not cut out for business-as-usual I’ve also been fortunate enough to have missed the bulk of the assholes out there. However, if you find yourself feeling stuck and decide to deal (rather than bailing) this might be worth your time. The other reason to read the book would be to self-diagnose tendancies that might be holding you back professionally.

That’s it for tonight. Stay tuned for more fast and furious book reviews.

Until then, what are you reading and what do you want to share?

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Simpleology (The Book)

I finally got my copy of the Simpleology book yesterday (it was a mess, don’t ask) and just finished reading it.

I’m blown away. I’ve known that I like Joyner’s stuff. This confirms it and goes way beyond what Mark has done before.

One of the best parts for me is that the majority of this book covers topics near and dear to my heart. Check the blog archives, the seedlings of most of the Simpleology book are there: a logic course, language patterns, E-prime, and the importance of flexibility.

If for some strange reason you haven’t grabbed your copy yet go now. Besides being a great book it is an awesome introduction to what we are doing here at Life, Love, & Learning.

(And if you hurry the bonuses should still be available.)

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Tech Stuff

I’ve been busy wrapping up the semester and getting the blog moved over to a new platform.

What does that mean for you? Not much. I’m hoping the move will be seamless on your end and the only way you’ll know (besides me telling you!) is that some fun new features will show up over time.

I’ve been cultivating some ideas that will show up here in the near future.

Be alert. The world needs more ‘lerts.

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