Dan Gardner’s Risk—The Science and Politics of Fear

Fear has grown a lot in our society. There are no snakes around us and no giant dinosaurs that would eat us for supper yet the bombarding and ear-piercing news of climate change, terrorism, crime news, nuclear apocalypse constantly make us bite our nails.

Very handful of books actually look at this problem and the growing fear society we are collectively creating today. This is one of them. We need to read this book because we are in the 21st century and fear shouldn’t be an emotion that chases us in reality and dreams. Instead, we should feel more grateful, thankful and positive. So, let’s dive in ASAP

  • Risk Society. Ulrich beck talks about this risk society with cancers, nuclear disasters, famines, and all horrors we could imagine. Sure, risks are there and have been throughout history. Beck opines that as technology advances we spread more risk and cause eventually a steep fall of civilization. But do we?

    Modern society cures cancer and many nations already abandoned nuclear power programs. In other words, technology is making our lives better and safer. All these stupid fears media pump into our brains rarely happen and even if they happen we know how to tackle them.

    “Put all these numbers together and what do they add up to? In a sentence: We are the healthiest, wealthiest, and longest-lived people in history. And we are increasingly afraid. This is one of the great paradoxes of our time.” —Gardner.
  • Ignore the old software. Dan says that brains haven’t changed a lot. Hence we fear more of lizards than car accidents. We entered the modern age and the brave new worlds, but brain primal fears still are hanging out in neurons. Since Stone Age, our brain has just increased by 200 cubic centimetres. Old fears had a purpose and were useful but now discard them. They are built into our software even though we don’t need them. For instance, monkeys raised in laboratories which never saw a snake backs away.
  • Use system 1 less. Daniel Kahneman in his Thinking fast and slow describes two brain systems. System 1 is largely driven by gut and intuition which passes out judgement without thinking much. System 2 uses the conscious part and is slow and deliberate which makes it less prone to miscalculation. So the logic is to use more of System 2. As Pascal says—“The heart has its reasons for which reason knows nothing of.”
  • Availability heuristic. When you are exposed a lot of times to a particular piece of information then you are influenced by it easily without thinking. More bad weather news makes you consider the possibility of dying in the next hurricane or being killed by an earthquake. But less available news like flu, sugars though very dangerous are less frightening for you.
  • Prefer data over stories. People want stories and anecdotes than hard data. Hence people still believe that mobile phones cause cancer, we have flat earth, angels exist. The author gives an example. In the 1990s rumours without scientific evidence and temper began to spread that breast implants cause cancer and were termed as toxic breasts and ticking bombs. The result was—the company was wiped out in lawsuits and no evidence ever came to light proving its correctness.

    Next time, a panic strikes, you better get your numbers right.
  • Politicians and Pharmaceutical companies have something in common. Yes, both breed fear in their farms. Former to get power and latter to get money. Politicians fake a danger and go to war. Pharmaceutical companies use fear and convince that you need nasty pills and manipulate data about the efficacy of a drug. And politicians are ready to target minorities.

    And now they have a powerful friend—The fourth estate in the name of media.

So always remember this quote that the author puts in the very beginning which I leave at the very end—

“Fear is implanted in us as a preservative from evil; but its duty, like that of the other passions, is not to overbear reason, but to assist it.”

3 Ideas from Brendon Burchard To consider Now

Brendon Burchard is regarded as the world’s leading high-performance coach and an excellent writer who topped the New York Times list of best-selling books 3 times. He is often quoted, googled, watched, and googled on the internet by productive bees who want the best in their life.

His online courses, videos crossed millions and Oprah Winfrey considers him as one of the most influential personal growth gurus of all time. Most people know him through the Brendon show, a wonderful podcast if you want to listen.

There’s a ton to learn from him and here are a few of my favorites—

  • 1)Owning Ambitions 100%

Brendon says that most people never own their ambitions 100%. This is a powerful idea and a truth. We usually own it a 50-60-70%. For instance, you want to write a book, run a blog, make YouTube videos and inspire millions of people online and you invest your resources and time on it but we do it half-heartedly. We don’t accept it but deep down you know it in your bones. I failed many times to do hard things like building a rock-solid body, write a novel. Sure, there are many reasons why I failed but after a lot of reflection, I think Brendon is right.

With just 60% ownership and liking, dreams are hard to come by. So never do this mistake. Chase your dreams only if can own them 100%. Here’s a nugget for you—
“personal power is directly tied to personal responsibility, which most people avoid.”(Brendon Burchard)

  • 2)Guilt is good

Brendon comments that guilt is a sign of learning and the first indication that you have a growth mindset. Trust me if you don’t feel guilty after binge-watching that Tv series all night, there’s something seriously wrong with you. Or you failed to make that blog post deadline possible, you should think and feel about it. That’s how you realize what your next baby steps are.

I always feel bad when I procrastinate on my Wednesday essay day. But guilt makes sure that I write the next day itself. Own guilt and achieve your dreams by course correction.

  • 3)Teach to generate positivity

“You have a clean slate every day you wake up. You have a chance every single morning to make that change and be the person you want to be. You just have to decide to do it. Decide today’s the day. Say it: this is going to be my day.”—Brendon Burchard.

Every morning is a choice to bring positivity to your life. No one can come inside your head and clean it. And positive thoughts won’t come unintentionally. You have to do it deliberately. That’s because the human brain is hardwired to create fear and anxiety. So the machine’s job is to constantly chase you down with 0% probability issues.

This man is worthy to be followed and take note of him. Go ahead. Great ideas can move you, only if you let them.


The Mandela Way of Life is What we need.

Nelson Mandela is the first black president of South Africa. But that’s just a Wikipedia fact. What we should think about Mandela is how well he lived his life, how he could heal his hating heart and how he faced his fears despite life’s gruelling setbacks and a prison term that would crush him and throw his dreams into an impossible pit.

His “Long Walk to Freedom” teaches how to be optimistic, how we learn to hate others, how a nation should act, and how to lit the kindness flame that burns in all our hearts. His life is a valuable book that one can learn if one opens the mind a bit. Here are the seeds that I value—

  • 1)Courage and Fear are twins.

One fundamental error in our thinking is that we assume being courageous means no fear and show a spartan face. But that’s far from true. Courage is coping with fear and waging a constant battle which we never win but only make a sound peace with it.

It’s an honourable pledge that we take. Yet we cannot defeat. The example is the man himself we’re talking out. When Mandela was flying on a plane. The engine failed and everyone was in panic mode. His bodyguards were running around with fear. But Mandela was reading a newspaper with courage. But here’s the thing Mandela after the emergency landing admitted that there was a fear but he merely did not show it.

This shows that being courageous is a choice that we need to make and can never defeat like a big Hercules.

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear—Mark Twain.”

  • 2)Contradictions define life.

We never get
Either this or that
But
A choice hanging
In between.
We never get
Neither this nor that
But
A paradox moving
Up and down.
We never get
A personality or
An individuality
But
A docile identity
Buttered by both.
We never get
Kinky morals or
Dinky ethics
But
A badly blossomed conscience
Or deeply twirled dilemmas.
We never get
A hulky heart
or
A bony brain
But
Just a sad belly.
Ah—
Black or white?
I wish it were that simple.

—No black and white

This is a poem I wrote a while back that captures the idea well. Life is neither black nor white but grey. We need to accept the contradictions, the ifs and buts, and tread along.

Nations accept this. For example, it cannot follow ruthless capitalism nor ruthless socialism. And balance traditions and modernity, which Mandela did in treating AIDS in his country.

Life is an ethical dilemma with not a yes or no. But a yes-no. No wonder, Soren Kierkegaard remarked—

“I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations — one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it — you will regret both.”

  • 3)A literate tongue or pen matters a lot.

We Know the famous quote of Mandela—
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

But the idea of Mandela is much more than that. Education brings out the best in you. It’s the best weapon we can use to battle against the raging hate in our hearts and purify ourselves.

That’s why he inspired many prisoners to read and as they say— He turned the cell blocks to study halls and made Robben Island a university.

And education, Mandela believed, save democracies, protect the rights of people and tames unethical leadership of so-called good men and women. As hatred of immigrants, blacks and the vulnerable are on the rise and people easily falling prey to a demagogue, education is the stick to control it.

and about education and personal development, here’s what Mandela says—

“Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farm workers can become the president of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.”

Pick out that book on the kindle or if you prefer the old way, then the shelf.
I will go for— The Second Mountain by David brooks.


The Aristotle code in 3 sayings.

Aristotle, the greatest student of Plato and the man who tutored the famous Alexander can teach us a lot. He is the father of many disciplines—Logic, Political Science, Zoology, Rhetoric and a whole bunch of others.

And Aristotle is probably the greatest philosopher of all time and a polymath who surpasses all and hence a worthy man to look into. Let’s dive in—

  • 1)Golden Mean in life

“Monks, these two extremes ought not to be practiced by one who has gone forth from the household life. There is an addiction to indulgence of sense-pleasures, which is low, coarse, the way of ordinary people, unworthy, and unprofitable; and there is an addiction to self-mortification, which is painful, unworthy, and unprofitable.
Avoiding both these extremes, the Perfect One has realized the Middle Path; it gives vision, gives knowledge, and leads to calm, to insight, to enlightenment.”—Buddha.

Aristotle and Buddha have something in common. That is the Middle way or the Golden mean. It is a powerful spiritual tool and a practical way to live life.
The mean path says to avoid extremities in life. Not to be a Hippie avoiding life nor a Materialist who’s sucked into life. Not to be a Moralist who doesn’t care about money nor a Capitalist whose life is run by dollars.

In life, not to show cowardice nor rashness but a sign of reasonable courage, And balancing passions and reality. The idea is neither to be in excess nor deficiency but moderation.

Next time, someone snaps at you, don’t be silent nor dynamite exploding on him/her but deal it with reasonable disapproval.

  • 2)What is good parenting?

“Those who educate children well are more to be honored than they who produce them; for these only gave them life, those the art of living well.”—Aristotle.

The Greek thinker opines that good parents educate children and that’s the only property that they can give which is worthwhile. A good inheritance is worthless unless your daughter is a woman of character and has prudence and probity.

Parents should teach what a good life is and how to be more empathetic and avoid being envious of others. And how to be more courageous, intelligent and compassionate.

A good education imparts humility and many virtues that act as a shield to evil vices around us. It shows how big a responsibility being a parent is and what matters to a child’s good governance of his life.

  • 3)Intellectual Humility

“The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.” —Aristotle.
Bertrand Russel, who’s another giant head, wittily said that stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.

Once you have a cultured tongue and a reasonable amount of ideas in your head, that should not make you arrogant. We mortals can never knowledge that is full and complete. The more we empty the cup, the more we can fill as Bruce Lee would say. Despite so much advancement in science, we could not even unravel the nature of any single atom!

We are still 90% blind to reality and could just figure out some basic things to live.

Another part is to admit we are wrong. Graciously admit where you went wrong and how miscalculated the estimates and move on. Only cowards never accept the mistake. The brave and the wise know that out of 10 things we do, rarely the number crosses 1.

Still, doesn’t have the guts? No problem, at least be the criminal in your court of conscience and do the inner sentence.


5 Irresistible tips from Daniel Pink on Marketing, Sales and Persuasion.

Daniel Pink has seen it all. From being a speech writer to Vice President Al Gore to Sales guru and world class author of nearly half a dozen books. His TED talk on motivation is definitely a worthy one to remember for a long time. Apart from this, Daniel has good command over behavioral and social sciences which is just another perfect reason to learn from him about persuasion and the science of good selling.

  • 1)Sales are everyone’s cup of tea.

Nearly everyone is into selling and persuasion, if you think about it. Whether it’s convincing your boss about your idea or if you are a teacher then you are persuading your students to stay on the course or if you’re a blogger like me, then you’re into catchy titles so that people read it.

“People spend nearly 40% of their work time on something akin to persuasion, influencing, convincing.”—Daniel Pink.

So mastering your sales skills really matters. Because you cannot push too much to scare the hell out or too little so that your idea doesn’t matter. And we are into sales everyday not just that guy or woman in a suit to rings the bell.

  • 2)Information Asymmetry is an illusion now.

The new world now is—Information parity. People exactly know what model of car they want with engine power. And they read, watch videos on YouTube about what they want. Consider this, we all google about our disease, see medication and their common side effects and various alternatives to surgery and then go to doctor for treatment. That exactly shows what has changed now.

In other words, you cannot sell a goat when buyer asks for a sheep in this new digital-information age. What people want now from you is your wisdom that is pick out 1 from a 1000 choices that bombard them.

  • 3)Find the common ground through attunement.

You need to be a perspective taker. Think through their lens and walk in their shoes. Empathy is very critical now. This is because when you understand their problem then we can tailor the product and become better persuader.

For instance, McDonalds and KFC unless understand food needs and problems of native cultures cannot sell. And MNC’s giving holidays and day-off on holidays in respect of native cultures is an example of good perspective taking.

And Power bossing over employees and brushing off their problems and issues in office isn’t going to work anymore. And even in business meetings he asks to keep aside an empty chair(considering hypothetical customer there) so that we always have customer driven strategies and ideas. That’s a cheap investment high value investment. Use it ASAP.

  • 4)Persuasion should be personal.

Selling should be personal and empowering. Your product’s mission should be to improve people’s lives. And persuasion shouldn’t be used to scam people. That will hurt your long term prospects.

And one way to improve performance of employees is to make it very personal. Daniel gives an example in Israel where Radiologists have spend more time on patient’s report when a photograph was attached to it than on reports without photograph. This shows that when people know that their work really matters and they are easily persuaded to do quality work.

  • 5)“Loss to you pitch”

Next time you want to sell that balloon blower or hair dryer or even a house. Tell people what they lose not what they gain. This idea is extremely useful and I’ve been using it ever since.

People pay attention when there’s a loss or pain around the corner. Persuade your manager by saying things like—
*If we do this, then sales drop by 60%
*If we hire that guy, then teamwork suffers.
*If we don’t buy this, then our power bill goes up by 12%
*If we don’t upgrade our software, then we lose valuable data like that Tom-Dick-Harry company.

Daniel makes sales a science and persuasion a philosophy. Very concrete and extremely practical. Dig more into his ideas and you won’t regret. His “To sell is human” is a good place to start.

4 Things Bruce Lee wanted you to know.

Bruce Lee, the name that needs no introduction. A world-class martial artist and surprisingly a world-class philosopher too. Time magazine named lee one of the 100 most important people of the 20th century.
We still binge-watch his movies and get dazzled by his cool moves.

But it’s time to dive into his enigmatic, jaw-dropping philosophy that can change our lives.

  • 1)Emptiness, the starting point.

“In order to taste my cup of water you must first empty your cup. My friend, drop all of your preconceived fixed ideas and be neutral. Do you know why this cup is so useful? Because it is empty.”—Bruce lee.

Bruce Lee is famous for this empty cup analogy that he picked up from zen philosophy. This one is a stunner concept to adopt in our life. With a fixed and overflowing mind, all you have are preconceptions, prejudices, and stereotypes. You are never in student mode and this stops learning and growing.

With a full cup, people are not ready to learn but only want to defend their ideas and position. This rigid mindset will limit us and confine us to the cup, like a frog in a well.

  • 2)Flow is the way of life.

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” —Heraclitus.
Heraclitus also says that change is the only constant thing in our lives.

This was well adapted by Bruce lee in his life. Like water, he asks us to be in a flow, ready to accept the object that gives it the shape and form.

Everything passes away or as Shakespeare puts it in Hamlet—This too shall pass. That sad breakup hangover is not going to last forever and that happy feeling of job promotion also will not last either.

Stay with the change and you shall grow. If you obstruct the water, you become rusty and polluted.

  • 3)Concentration is the root.

“Concentration is the secret of strength.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Bruce Lee sees concentration as the root of all the higher abilities in man. As technology is growing at an alarming pace, our concentration abilities are falling off the cliff.

As the famous study points out we have an attention span less than the goldfish. After just 8 seconds, we are distracted away. That’s why it has become hard to do meditation even for 5 minutes regardless of the app we use or the program we enrol into.

Humans have built civilizations and now are venturing into space to colonize them. But if we cannot compete even with a goldfish, then the problem is too serious to ignore.

Master the combative arts of Lee but first, be attentive.

  • 4)The point is doing.

“The doer alone learns.”—Bruce Lee.

The only thing that matters is action and nothing else. The mere talk will not bring accomplishments and lee says that the surest way to learn something truly, that is, to get master knowledge not chauffeur knowledge, as Charlie Munger says, is to get some real action.

This is also supported by science—the way of kinesthetic learning. Hands-on learning by action helps a lot more than you assume.

Moreover, action can be meditative and acts as a medicine and antidote to our thought paralysis. Action liberates the soul and gives you strength which the thoughts cannot, no matter how noble they are.

welcome the way of the dragon.


BOREDOM—The Superpower everyone ignores.

We all feel bored not just sometimes but usually almost every day. The way out is YouTube scrolling or Instagram feeding. It’s done automatically and subconsciously now.
We can’t sit quietly and do nothing, though this is what philosophers or spiritual gurus say.

We search endlessly on Netflix or Prime to watch some weird Tv show or Productive lazy bugs jump into books or cheap intellectual talks.
The List is endless.

As Albert Camus in The plague remarks—
“The truth is that everyone is bored, and devotes himself to cultivating habits.”

What we don’t understand is boredom is this mysterious force that comes onto you to shake up your life in little ways. But every day we brush it off. The result is we never tap and get on with it.

Well, not anymore. Here’s why

  • 1)Boredom puts your busy brain on a pause.

In this digital and social media age, we are constantly being hit by news, celebrity gossips, ads, and life-advice videos that are simply overwhelming us.

With no time to take a pause, we are losing the right headspace to these bots and algorithms. In the end, we over-fire our neurons and blast our heads with overloaded engagements.

That’s where boredom comes to the rescue. It can put you in sweet solitude protected by dopamine hits. Too much stimulation is hurting your body and mind like never before. Henry David Thoreau could go into the woods but we cannot in our concrete jungles.

If we can use boredom and stay with it instead of binge-watching and binge hitting clicks on phone, it can heal you.

It’s high time we listen to Thoreau advice—


“I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.”

  • 2)Boredom makes you a creative genius.

Sandi Mann, a senior psychology lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire in the UK says boredom is an essential part of the creative process and should be applied to our day-to-day lives.

Boredom allows mind-wandering and that’s when creative juices flow like the mighty Nile river. And when you are bored, there’s no pressure on you to meet your self imposed ideals. You simply don’t care and trust me that create miracles.

Here’s what famous Neil Gaiman says about boredom—

“You have to let yourself get so bored that your mind has nothing better to do than tell itself a story – Neil Gaiman.”

His advice for upcoming writers is to get bored and embrace that crushing boredom to kickstart that never-ending novel that you are planning to write.

  • 3)Boredom means you don’t like something.

Boredom is a reflective-contemplative mirror that’s showing that probably you don’t like something.
If you are bored in the office, then it means the work is not exciting for you.

It means boredom is asking to pursue what you like. It has pulled you out of the matrix. But we engage in what Danckert and Eastwood call—“Maladaptive remedies,” like couch surfing, abusing drugs and alcohol or go out for some adventures like skydiving or trekking mountains.

It’s a wake-up call that you need to hear. Not a distract-yourself call that you need to engage. Hence they advice neither to mask it nor try to outrun it.

As Jon Kabat-Zinn says—when you pay attention to boredom it gets unbelievably interesting.


Jordan Peterson on “How to Find Meaning in your life.”

  • Set aside reasonable amount of time for play.
  • Compare yourself to who you were yesterday.
  • Make friends with people who want only the best from you.
  • Writing is the surest way to improve thinking.
  • Having a good posture changes your mood.
  • Read something written by greats.
  • Make at least one thing better in every single place you go.
  • Sustainable improvement is better than pushing yourself too hard.
  • Ask yourself what you want and move towards that.
  • Break the goal into small parts so that you can achieve something daily and consistently reward yourself.
  • Inaction is costly.
  • Compounding works. Believe in it.
  • Self-consciousness can be a double edged sword. It comes with its own punishments and rewards. Thus, be careful.
  • Self authoring about past, present, future helps and can provide direction.
  • The one skill that holds so much relevance in future will be having attention.



Jump-Starting your Brain—By Joe Dispenza

  • Thinking creates feeling, and feeling creates thinking in a loop.
  • Contemplating goodness in your brain changes your body for good.
  • Thoughts really shape the way you feel as they trigger chemical reactions.
  • Learn something new and constantly create the growth in your mind.
  • Brain is continually evolving and that’s a powerful fact to remember.
  • With enough repetition and practice, your brain can’t tell the difference between imagination and reality. Harness it to create positive stuff and avoid negative things by mental rehearsals and positive visualizations.
  • Repeated visualizations create the reality you experience. So, choose wisely.