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If you’re not familiar with the Nirvana Fallacy, here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it:

“the informal fallacy of comparing actual things with unrealistic, idealized alternatives.”

I was looking for this when talking about folks who reject partial solutions because those solutions don’t bring about the perfect situation. However, it extends to a good deal beyond those cases. Basically, you avoid the Nirvana fallacy when you choose to make forward progress, no matter how small the progress.

For instance, you’ve not eaten well all day. You could say to yourself, “Well, the day is wrecked, I might as well eat whatever now.” This is falling into the Nirvana fallacy. You aren’t going to reach the  “I stuck to good eating habits all day” state so you reject what you can actually do to eat right for at least part of the day. For today, eating right 100% of the time is idealized and unrealistic. It’s unachievable. That’s why we typically say to ourselves, “Well, since today is a wash, I’ll just try to do better tomorrow.”

Attacking the fallacy is easy. Instead of lamenting today as lost and promising to do better tomorrow, we can simply choose to do better the rest of the day. It’s not the idealized state. However, it is better than continuing to eat poorly. It is moving forward. Don’t fall into the Nirvana Fallacy, especially with respect to your goals.

 

In music, you can see a legacy. You can see how artists of a previous generation/decade influences those who follow. Perhaps it’s even that they open the doors for that kind of act or type of music to be popular. What started this conversation was this group:

The “boy bands” of the last decade or so are a continuation of groups like Boyz II Men. The style of the music isn’t the same, necessarily, but you can see the connection. Furthermore, you can trace the legacy of male harmony groups back through the decades. That’s the exercise my wife and I went through with our children one night last week, talking about how folks pave the way for others.

None of us get to where we are completely by ourselves. People help out all along the way. We help out other people as they navigate their paths. One of the key things to do is to remember who paved the way. Having a sense of gratitude, a humility to remember we didn’t do it on our own, helps us appreciate the progress we have made. It also prepares us to seek out help so that we can continue moving forward towards accomplishing our goals.

Remember who paved the way in your life. You might even drop off a thank you note or two. Then think about who can help you move forward. Ultimately, it is only with the help of others that we’ll achieve our biggest goals in life.

From the time I was four years-old, I wanted to be an aerospace engineer. That dream lasted until my senior year of high school, when I watched the market drop out of the aerospace industry. I stayed in related fields in college, physics and mathematics, but I never became an aerospace engineer. However, I retained my love for aircraft and beautiful aircraft designs. Why does this matter from a productivity perspective?

At the beginning of the year I bought a desktop calendar, the type where you tear off the page every workday. The one I chose for my work desk has classic aircraft on it. For instance, yesterday’s was of the Supermarine Spitfire, a beautiful aircraft. Today’s is of the Grumman Widgeon, which admittedly isn’t as sleek and exciting, but it still inspires me. Each day, seeing a new classic aircraft picture along with the short write-up gives me enthusiasm and a bit of a boost.

What inspired you as a child and still provides you a positive boost as an adult? Is there a way you can bring it into your work day every day? Is there a way you can focus on it, even if only for a couple of minutes, at the beginning of your work day? If you don’t already have something like that,  try and implement it in your daily routine, even if it’s something simple as a calendar or a desktop background. See if it provides you a positive boost for the day.

I posted a thought on Facebook that my friend, Andy Leonard (blog | twitter), asked me to blog about. Here’s what I asked:

A haunting question: Am I giving my children memories of my love that will be an aid and comfort to them in difficult times?

Another friend pointed out that in his view, building a reliance on Jesus Christ in tough times is of critical importance. We share faith in Jesus and I agree with that. However, even if that is of primary importance to me, I know that my children will go through hard times. I want them to be able to remember that Dad has always been in their corner, has always loved them, and that they can reflect on times where they felt demonstrations of my love.

There is plenty of talk of previous generations of men who barely shed a tear, who hit their emotions behind a wall, and while that may have been the way of the past, I don’t think it’s healthy. Going back to my faith, I can’t find Biblical support for such a position, either. I can, however, find plenty of support for expressing my feelings and my love to my children. For instance:

Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! – Matthew 7:9-11, ESV

The point of this passage in context is that the Father loves His children and wants to show His love. It’s not about getting whatever we want, for those who might want to misapply this, by the way. Applied to my role as a father, it tells me that I need to continually demonstrate my love for my children. The point isn’t whatever stuff they get from that love, but the memories that will be made.

What memories are you leaving for the ones who care about you and who you care about? Are they good memories of love? Is there anything you need to change to leave the memories you want to be remembered by?

Recently, a friend of mine was sharing more about his neighborhood’s resident crime lord. The person in question had been arrested again, but this time wasn’t out on bail. Based on what had been previously shared, I wasn’t surprised. He fit the bill as a repeat offender. He had stayed out of jail because he was able to make bail, even after being arrested with pending cases. This last time, though, bail had been denied. If you’re like me, you aren’t thinking very highly of the “repeat offender.”

Then my friend made an interesting comment, “I think he wants to be in jail.” I’ve heard of those who have spent a lot of time in jail wanting to be back in jail because they no longer understood the outside world and wanted to be back in a familiar place. That wasn’t true of this guy. He had no previous convictions. The only time he had spent in jail was waiting to see if he would get out on bail. Naturally, those of us listening to the story inquired further. That’s when my friend said, “You know, he didn’t used to be this way. Everything changed when he lost his wife and daughter in a car accident where they were T-boned. Then he lost another child right after that; I think to suicide. I believe that’s when he got into drugs and then everything started rolling downhill.”

Did you just take a punch to the gut? I did. The problem with the initial reaction to hearing about this guy is we lacked perspective. It’s just like the well known story of the man on the subway with unruly children. The truth of the matter is we lack perspective on a lot of the folks we meet and interact with. It’s easy to come to a quick judgment on someone. Sometimes we don’t have more time and we have to go with that first reaction. When we aren’t forced into a snap decision on someone, we would benefit greatly if we gave others the benefit of the doubt. We should spend the time to formulate a better perspective. Take the time in your interactions. You’ll see the people around you differently as a result. And you will benefit from it.

Here is where I had a lunch time meeting today:

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It’s another private spot in downtown Columbia, another place to get away. Today’s lunch meeting consisted of an alumni board meeting for my high school alma mater. It was a conference call and it was my first as part of the board. As a result, I wanted to:

  • find a place of privacy.
  • find a place of serenity and quiet.
  • get some sun.
  • steer clear of the office.

The fountain in this location is more prominent and the flowing water is soothing. This particular spot, while in downtown, is located on side streets where there isn’t a lot of traffic. As a result, I was able to focus on the conference call and make good use of the time.

Even when you find private spots, consider what is good and and bad about each one. I could have gone to the spot yesterday, but the amount of background noise would have been in competition with the voices on the phone, even with a headset. This particular spot is slightly less private (more people know about it) but always much quieter, even with people present. That’s why today’s spot was the best place for me to attend my meeting.

I’m in downtown Columbia, SC. Right behind where I’m sitting is busy Taylor Street and I can hear the cars on the road and construction at a neighboring property.

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While I can hear the noise, there’s no one around me. I have this tucked away garden all to myself. It’s like this every time I’ve been here at lunch. This hidey-hole, and places like it, is where I can get alone and recharge.

To get to this particular spot takes some walking. It’s easy to reach in a lunch hour, still giving me about 30 minutes of privacy. Therefore, coming out here serves two purposes: I get a bit of exercise and I get some alone time. For an introvert, the lunch hour doesn’t get much better than this.

Wherever I am, I try to find spots like these. Often times they are hiding in plain sight. Parks and public gardens like the one I’m in now are usually the first places I investigate. Do you have a quiet, private place to which you can flee? Even if you’re an extrovert, it’s still good to have a couple of such places when you just need to get away.

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