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What We Do What We Do by Anthony Robbins at TED 2006

A TED Talk A Day, Day 39: This one is an oldie from almost 10 years ago, but is still a goodie. The effervescent Anthony Robbins talks about what really drives us, and essentially compresses many of his core ideas into this talk. Even a decade later the concepts he covers remain relevant and useful.

A note for those who have listened to Anthony Robbins speak before: you might realise, as I have, that he often speaks about a very small number of topics, but boy does he know speak about those topics superbly and fluently. This talk is no different, so there will be many themes that come up that you would have heard elsewhere.

  1. We often think that people act out of self-interest but that is not always true; once emotions get in the way, they act differently.
  2. If we understand what drives us, we can both contribute more, and also understand people better and overcome the challenges that are facing us.
  3. There are two master lessons: the science of achievement, and the art of fulfilment.
  4. The science of achievement is how to take the invisible and make it visible.
  5. The art of fulfilment is about appreciation and contribution, but there are no fixed answers to how to achieve these.
  6.  Most people think biography is destiny — the past equals the future. But this is not true, there are examples of people who have gone through difficulty and achieved great things; and there are people who have been given everything but ended up nowhere.
  7. Decision is the ultimate power. The decisions we make can change the course of our lives. We make 3 decisions every moment of our lives:
    1. What am I going to focus on?
    2. What does it mean? This produces an emotion in us.
    3. What am I going to do?
  8. When people fail to achieve something, they tend to blame resources: time, money, technology, contacts, experience, management (the Supreme Court…)
  9. But often the real reasons are resourcefulness: creativity, determination, love/caring, curiosity, passion, resolve.
  10. Emotion is what drives us, and also what stops us. If we are fun and playful enough, we can get through to others.
  11. The invisible forces that shape us:
    1. in the moment: state;
    2. in the long-term: our world view/model of the world.
  12. Our model of the world has 3 parts:
    1. What are we after? These are needs, not just goals and desires.
    2. What’s our  map? These are our belief systems that are telling us how to get those needs.
    3. What’s our fuel? This is emotion, and they can all be categorised into 12 key emotions.
  13. The six human needs:
    1. certainty – we want to be comfortable and secure. This can come in many ways: developing a skill, smoke a cigarette, giving up, etc.
    2. uncertainty – we can’t live in total certainty, because we get board. We need variety and surprise.
    3. significance – we need to feel important and unique.
    4. connection & love – we get this through intimate relationships, family, friends, pets, even a connection with nature.
    5. growth – we need feel like we are always improving
    6. contribution – the secret to life is about giving to others.
  14. People get excited to contribute once they get to experience it, not talk about it.

Suggested action step: I better more aware of my decisions and decide better. Decide for the things that truly matter to me, that allow me contribute, that fulfil my needs and the needs of others in the best way possible.

Mathematics And Sex by Clio Cresswell at TEDxSydney

A TED Talk A Day, Day 20: An entertaining talk that, yes, jumps between mathematics and sex/relationships, and contains a surprisingly simple and useful tip to trigger different thinking modes.

1 of 2 equations that predict the likelihood of couples staying together.

1 of 2 equations that predict the likelihood of couples staying together.

  1. Above are 2 mathematical equations that can predict with 95% accuracy whether couples will be together in 6 years time! To use it we look at newly-weds talking about areas of contention (e.g. in-laws, money), and take into account how they respond to each other. In the equation W represents Wife, and H represents Husband.
  2. Counter-intuitively, couples that responded the least to each other, had more successful marriages! Couples who compromised the least ended up being together the most. This is based on an “influence” factor at the end of the equation.
  3. Instead of empathy, the cornerstone of most marriage advice, the equations suggests that “having high standards, and finding ways to reach for those standards are the way to go”.
  4. Mathematics these days reaches far beyond the physical sciences, to areas like biology and medicine, or the social sciences. Even equations relating to how to create the perfect chocolate.
  5. One key factor is whether we overestimate our partner’s qualities.
  6. Mathematics also informs research accuracy. For example, studies of how many sexual partners people have had reveals a great difference between men and women… yet that doesn’t make mathematical sex. The number should be roughly the same on both sides, so somebody’s got to be lying.
  7. Thinking about love before thinking about something else improves the ability to think in a creative/global/big picture way.
  8. Think about sex first, on the other hand, improves process/detail-oriented thinking.
  9. Now more about mathematics: it’s actually about pattern-recognition and precise, abstract thinking.
  10. Mathematics originates from nature: pattern-recognition is at the core of the animal kingdom — it is required for animals to survive. The seed of the concept of numbers is also there: a pack of animals can identify if another pack is larger than theirs; and a rat can press a level an approximate number of times to get food.
  11. However, past a certain number, neither rats nor humans are naturally able to continue counting and working with numbers; but language gives us the ability to extend that. We went further to abstract mathematics, like in algebra. In naming things we also got the benefit of ideas like cause and effect, and temporal reasoning.
  12. Mathematics is also clear and precise in it’s operation, every step of the way. This makes it both useful, and also hard, because it tames those innate “numerical” sensations in the most precise possible.

Suggested action step: No question I will think about love before I need to do big picture planning, and thinking about sex before doing detailed work. That was easy.

The secret to desire in a long-term relationship by Esther Perel at [email protected]

A TED Talk A Day, Day 4: Funny, the things I find in my watch later list. I’m not sure where I picked this video up, but it’s definitely a topic anyone would be interested in. An absolutely fascinating talk on desire.

  1. Good intimacy does not always lead to good sex, contrary to popular belief.
  2. We are in an age (for the first time, she says) where we want sex purely for desire, i.e. not for having children or not out of duty, but because we simply want it for pleasure and connection. But the question is: what sustains desire and how do we maintain it?
  3. We are trying to reconcile two opposing needs: the need for safety, permanence, certainty; and the need for novelty, risk, surprise, variety, excitement. What we look for today, a passionate marriage, is a contradiction in terms: the safety of an practical partnership with the excitement of a passionate lover.
  4. Across cultures, people are most drawn to their partners when:
    1. they are away. In short, when they can root their desire in imagination and longing.
    2. they are in their element — radiant and confident.
    3. they are surprised when there is novelty, in terms of what aspects of their partners they see.
  5. There is no neediness in desire. There is no care-taking: that can be loving, but it’s also an anti-aphrodisiac.
  6. Humans are the only species who combine sex with the imagination. And generally people want better sex, which is to reconnect with the quality of eros, vibrancy and vitality, that is rooted in imagination.
  7. A key question is “I shut myself off when…?”, not “You turn me off when…” or “What turns me off is…” Often the answer is when we feel low self-esteem, when we don’t perform at work, when I don’t have a sense of self-worth, when I don’t feel like I have a right to want and to receive pleasure, etc.
  8. Another question is “I turn myself on when…?” When do I turn on my desires? Desire often comes from attributes that usually are in opposition with love and what is safe/responsible: power, jealousy, dominance, naughtiness, mischief.
  9. Love comes from selflessness, but desire comes from selfishness. Selfishness in the best sense of the word — the ability to to stay connected to oneself in the presence of another.
  10. Desire is rooted in exploration, and in the freedom we have. Take the example of a child who is told to go explore and that the world is fun, versus a child who is being shown anxiety and worry. The former would feel freer to explore.
  11. We will sacrifice one part of ourselves to hold on to another, i.e. we will sacrifice our freedom in order not to lose connection, to stay safe. This may cause us to forget to how to go play and leave that safe place.
  12. So how do we reconcile these needs?
    1. Have sexual privacy. There is an erotic space that belongs to each person.
    2. Foreplay doesn’t start 5 minutes before sex. It starts after the last orgasm ends.
    3. Leave the “good citizen” behind. Responsibility and desire don’t go well together.
    4. Passion waxes and wanes. But erotic couples know how to bring it back, because they know spontaneity is a myth. Committed sex has to be deliberate.

Suggested action step: I think this talk applies as much to life as it does to relationships, so I will remember to choose the less safe option when I can, explore when I can, and take risks in the moment.

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