Outlier Time, Energy and Meaning Management

Becoming an outlier demands managing what we can and the three most important quantities are time, energy and meaning.

Okay outliers, here is the deal. Whether outlier or outlier wannabe, we all have the same problem / opportunity. We get the sense that we live in a pretty vast, not very bounded world and therefore are faced with determining which part of infinity we want to harvest. We eventually come to know, that although we can accomplish many things, perhaps even an amazing number of things, that we can not do everything we can imagine doing. And, by the way if we could, than we would probably not be outliers, for our imaginations would not be that fertile.

Exceptions to this occur, as some people are so excellently disciplined at self organization and prioritization, that they can convince themselves they are already doing everything they ever wanted, or imagined they might want to do. Just a guess, but I suspect that if they look at the world from the corner of their eye they will notice a few more things on the periphery trying to grab their attention.

Okay as a potentially infinite being, in a potentially infinite universe, what is one to do on a day to day basis? Here is a suggestion of what to manage. What you say, there is nothing to manage, everything is hunky dory and working perfectly. Well, then you are an outlier among outliers, an uber outlier. But for those who are not here are a few thoughts.

We only have the time, energy and will to manage a subset of what we can perceive. I suspect, even the most maniacal manipulators amongst us can not manipulate to the degree their insecurity drives them to. The disease of the manipulator and the bully, for they are one and the same, is of course insecurity, for those who feel good about themselves have no need to manipulate or to bully others.

Back to the non-bullying outlier community still left reading, as by now all of the bullies and manipulators have likely stopped reading this. What, you say? How about those of us who try to manipulate or bully ourselves? After all isn’t the what managment is about anyway?

Well, no it is not. In fact, I suspect that most bully and manipulators tend to try to use this same technique to manage themselves as well as others, which may be underlying the insecurity driving these behaviors … but on to more positive topics.

If you want to do a lot in the world, you are going to have to put out a lot of effort, and if that effort is totally unmanaged, you are not likely to grab the brass ring, whatever that means to you . Which brings us to … we do not have enough time or energy to manage everything. What we can and should manage is a bit philosophical and meta so bear with me.

We sometimes have the feeling, or are least told by others that Time Management is crucial for it is the only non-renewable finite quantity at our disposal. And yes, time management is clearly important, as how many of you outliers struggle with time management?  Why is this so difficult?

We do not in fact all have the same amount of time. We may all have 24 hours in a day but some of us are going to have a lot more days and years, than others. There are two enormous factors which influence the number of years we have, assuming no freak accident cut our lives short out of the blue.

Two factors impacting the perception and application of time enormously, are energy and meaning, both which are very personal quantities.  We do not all have the same amount of time, energy or meaning, yet all three of these are to a degree, manageable, extremely worth managing and interdependent.

The amount of time you have, and how you use it, is directly influenced by the amount of energy you have, and the amount of meaning you have. If you are a top down thinker, a bottom up thinker, or both, these relationships get to the same place. You have to manage all three Time, Energy, and Meaning, which I am abbreviating as TEM.

If you have all of the time and energy in the world, and no meaning, than life is not very worth living, at least for me it isn’t. If you have a ton of meaning but no time or energy to pursue what matters to you, than life may have meaning, but you will still be very frustrated. If you have boundless unfocused energy, and are constantly sprinting toward the next shinny object or idea, you will still be unfulfilled and never achieve your outlier potential.

Therefore the three quantities TEM, all need to be managed jointly, as they mutually modulate each other all of the time, at every moment. Sometimes people are suffering so much that they may confuse coping with meaning. Coping is not the same thing as living life fully. Sometimes when times are tough, coping is all we can manage but if that is what one spends their life doing than no they are not that likely to be an outlier.

But wait you say, look at all of the alcoholic writers, stoner musicians, and self medicating highly accomplished professionals? We have seen a sea of articles and interviews attesting to the fact that, no they are not too happy about coping instead of living.

How we each manage TEM, (time, energy and meaning) is personal and there are an infinite number of ways to accomplish this. More on this tomorrow.Back to the main point – we have to mange time, energy and meaning. Now I am sure some of you are saying but shouldn’t the M stand for money, not for meaning? Well I hate to break the news to you but Money is not the same thing as Meaning. If you use Money as the context for you time and energy than that is what you will get, money. If you use Meaning as the context for time, and energy (for they do need a context) then Meaning is what you are more likely to get.

Certainly some outliers are primarily driven by money, or by coping through escape, and I wish both groups well, but I personally would rather hang out with people who are pursuing meaning as a more lasting focal point for a life.

Without meaning, who cares about time, drifting from one day to the next. Without meaning do you think you have more or less energy? Now if you have abundant energy and good genes you can live a long time cruising around at high speeds but if there is no meaning to focus and prioritize your efforts you will not likely be very happy or secure.

If you know what matters to you, and where you are going, and how to create meaning for yourself, (and yes I very much mean that it is each and every person’s responsibility to create meaning for themselves), well you may end up being a bully or a manipulator of others or yourself neither of which is particularly satisfying nor longevity promoting.The bottom line is it is crucial to find out what matters to you, if your life is to have meaning, and if there is something to mange your time and energy with respect to, or to even bother to get for in the morning. Meaning trumps both time and energy. Even if your time is short and your energy is low, you can radically improve your life by investing it is activities that produce meaning for you. And if you do, you may find that your energy grows and your time expands for life and the universe are quite nonlinear, dimensionally vast and therefore full of opportunities disguised as problems and vice a versa.

Manage your meaning, energy and time all together, for if they are not in alignment, their interdependence will surely cause problems which interfere with becoming the outlier you were born to be.

Dark Matter of the Mind

The simplest way I have heard Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity described was something like “gravity determines where things are and space determines where things go”. We know gravity is a function of mass. More mass equals more gravity. Have enough of it and it effects the shape of space, hence where things go as they tend to follow the shape of space. This is why Dark Matter has been postulated and (supposedly?) discovered. It was necessary to explain the movement of galaxies because the amount and distribution of visible matter did not adequately predict the observed movement. Pretty much everyone has heard of a black hole. This is something so dense that if a light were to be shined upon it, there would be no reflection because the photons could not escape the gravitational pull, which is why it is called a black hole, you cannot see it. But we do know they are there, for they impact movement of physical astronomical objects and are evidenced by radiation of energy as subatomic particles in their presence are dismembered.

Our physical universe has invisible (dark) masses and forces and yes here is dark energy as well but no time for that right now. I cannot help but wonder if our psyche and therefore our behavior is influenced by extremely dense massive invisible thoughts. Thoughts and models that are the equivalent of dark matter. Are there some black holes in our mind? Do we have unconscious models that are so massive and dense that we do not notice them until the trajectory of our behavior is altered? And if we are paying extremely close attention, can we notice the errant energy emitted?

There is no question that we live in a universe that is too dimensionally vast to comprehensively comprehend. Whether this is expressible as a multiverse or parallel universe or sequential alternative universes are not that important psychologically. What is important is that our universe or universes is or are, really big and of great dimension.

Perspectives can be considered to be perceptual dimensions. If we attempt to deny the possibility of multiple perspectives than we are denying reality. There is only one thing we can do when faced with vastness, adapt. We can try to escape by putting our heads in the sand, but this has not been shown to be a good long term survival strategy. The other extreme, adapting or innovation does have a pretty good track record.

It has been said we can never step into the same river twice. This is because rivers constantly change course, depth and volume velocity as does the rest of the universe or even multiverse we live in. We rarely can precisely predict the conditions we will be encountering unless we have particularly static and passive lives (death?). The act of living is one of adapting by responding to circumstances. If we did not have to ever do this, what would we be doing? Nothing!

The problem is change can be frightening, because we cannot predict the outcomes. On the other hand many situations demand change because we can predict the outcome if we do not. This occurs early when learning to ride a bicycle. Leaning too far in one direction requires quick rebalancing to avoid falling over and crashing. Adapting is perhaps our most natural act. Babies have it easy. All they have to do is drink or eat what is offered and hug back when embraced. It is not until later that they learn to duck and cover, hit back or run away.

Innovation is simply an advanced form of adapting to circumstances. When see something that is not working, we can respond by creating a new situation which sometimes has us bring into the world new behaviors, devices, technologies, companies, institutions, wealth or all of the above. It is an entirely natural and for many, involuntary act. You see a problem and fix it. You lean too far in one direction and correct, or fall over and next time lean less. Or discover if going very quickly enables you to lean more, as all who have been on a motorcycle know first hand. It seems Elon Musk is doing this right now with Tesla and his other companies.

Resisting change is not sane because it is impossible. All living organisms have the capacity to adapt to their circumstances. We all have to, because our environment is always in a state of flux, never constant. Fortunately humans have proven to be a most adaptable species. Innovation and adaptation are reasonable responses to the situation we always find ourselves in. We simply cannot step into the same river or multiverse twice, because it is not there any more.

Being subject to the dark matter in our minds, perhaps it is time to examine those invisible thoughts and models dense enough to exert a strong gravitational pull on our behavior. We can better adapt to these massive models impacting our beliefs if we know they are there. We often have to hypothesize something, before discovering it. When we observe behavior that makes no sense, it is time to look for invisible models that may be causing powerful fears to exist.

Poor behavior is often the result of fear, even if the poorly behaving folks are unaware they are fearful. What are they afraid of? That the world as they know it is changing. They are right, it is. If they remember all humans are potentially masterful at adapting and innovating, perhaps they can be less fearful in order to be more creative, for it is the only way out. We can not go backward without pushing civilization into a great dieback which is certainly possible. The earth does not need us.

This brings me back to point I have made many times, “Innovate or die!” But now keep an eye out for the dark matter of the mind, which can be unfortunately unconsciously perspective shifting. Remember our physical universe has a lot more dark matter than visible matter and it is likely that our minds do as well.

We certainly have the capacity and the need to investigate and explore externally and internally. My simple definition of innovation is “applied insight”. If you never look inside, what are you going to apply? How will you adapt and what will you adopt? Because we all do and will continue. The question is unconsciously or consciously? This is not only a question for each individual but for society at large and the world.

Innovation Powered Abundance, the Poor Behavior Cure

It has been said that all emotions stem from either fear or love. An innovation-centric take on this is; people, companies, cities and nations can feel dominated by scarcity or abundance. Missteps are often overlooked when the future seems bright, yet decline seems to engender poor behavior. As entrepreneur inventor types can attest to, decline is rarely graceful. On the other hand, when on a roll, one can (almost) do no wrong, so get hot and get on a roll!

There may be an alarming number of undiagnosed cases of existential angst caused by fear about the uncertainty of tomorrow. There seem to many suffering from scarcity caused fear. Some feel that the world as they know it, is ending, and are desperately trying to resist. They will have to give it up! Yes the world is changing. None can step into the same universe twice. It isn’t there any more.

Driverless cars will eliminate jobs while creating entirely new industries. Replacement of the old with the new has been going on for a very long time. Everyone should be used to progress after a few thousand years. The world does not naturally go backwards, although a nuclear or climate caused population dieback could force humanity to go backward to a world no one wants.

The cure for those desiring to go back to the past, is actively participate in the creation of tomorrow. People, companies and nations actively innovating and creating new futures for themselves, have neither the time nor orientation to be passive and fearful.

Each person, organization, town and nation can determine if they want to pursue abundance or scarcity, by deciding if they want to go forward or backward. Those trained in science are familiar with natural laws, which require no enforcement and do not care if anyone believes in them or not. Deny gravity and die, or overcome it and figure out how to fly.

A dangerous label sometimes associated with the educated elite is “progressive”. Does anyone truly prefer to not be educated, and to not get ahead but to go backwards? Sorry, human progress is a natural law we can not prevent. Although I love science fiction, time travel does not exist. The laws of physics can not be repealed for they are self enforcing and appear to be operating the same way everywhere on earth and in the rest of the universe we have observed. Ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law.

Being afraid of tomorrow is not irrational, but it is a choice. Tomorrow is coming anyway, like it or not. Change is here, like it or not. Yesterday no longer exists, like it or not. Questions we can be asking ourselves and each other are; what future do we want to create? and how do we want to get there? If machines are coming, and yes they are, than what can we focus on that we can do better than them? Two things people may want to focus on are Meaning and Expression.

Expecting meaning to be externally defined has already been shown likely to create disappointment and exploitation. Expression, something we can all participate in, gives our lives meaning. Make something, do something, get better at something, do a deep dive not a superficial escape, it does not matter what as long as it makes you happy. This does not mean it will be easy or always work. Neither a machine nor someone else will ultimately be able to make anyone happy or give life meaning, only individuals can do that for themselves and then not be afraid of tomorrow but be running toward it with open arms! An excellent way to predict the future is to create it, but do not plan on violating natural laws, which are by definition self reinforcing and do not care about opinions. Some communities will attempt to disavow science and bear the fruits of their ignorance. The only two choices are accept reality and progress or resist, try to go backwards, and decline.

Innovation will not be denied. It is humanity’s birthright to adapt, evolve, create, innovate and solve problems. This does not mean we are invulnerable. We can destroy ourselves, but this is a choice we can make and going backwards is not; once a thought is thought, it can not be unthought.


Culture Pivots

Any time is a good time to change, but some are better than others. Beginnings of years, months, weeks or days work pretty well to take stock, look around and set out in a new direction, project or context. Historically humans have created many other ritual junctures such as the beginning of a new school year, a new season, or a new job and in addition to these generally held opportunities for pivoting, the faith or belief systems you have been born into may also provide excellent times to detach, reflect and set set off consciously in new ways. Several somewhat specialized cultures I was born into in no particular order are starting books, entering new school years, being a New Yorker and being a Jew, all of which could be argued are variations on the same theme. My mother was a school teacher so growing up the beginning of the new school year in the fall seemed more important to her than the New Year in January. Since everyone in my house read lot of books, there was a pretty good chance on any given day, that one of us was starting a new one which was in some way entering into a new universe every time. Then there was being a New Yorker, which means living in place that is so full of vigorous vital change as to still be unmatched even after living elsewhere for decades. This evening begins Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year which was explicitly designed and designated as a time to pivot, making it a truly excellent pivot time shared by millions around the world.

What do I mean by pivoting? Well my definition does not matter, yours does. Whatever you are doing and whatever dream you are living in, there is always an opportunity to step back and observe yourself and your activities at a meta-level, to ask yourself who you are, what are you doing and why, and to observe who is asking these questions?

As infinite voyagers surfing the dimensionally vast set of options and opportunities, sometimes called problems, we are to some degree always aware of choices we have in terms of where we live, where we work, who we spend time with, what we are focused upon and the huge set of constructs and frameworks we voluntarily subordinate ourselves to at any given moment.

The fact that a group of people thousands of years ago thought it was worth while to annually detach and zoom out to look at life from a broader perspective, from which we could effect a restart with no blame by forgiving ourselves by letting go of the past, is informative. The fact that millions of people worldwide will begin this ritual cultural reset is instructive. It must have worked somewhat or they would not be doing it for thousands of years. Personally, I am always willing to use any excuse to pivot since the world and my life rarely appear to be the way I think it should be which propels me to be an involuntary innovator who welcomes pivot points. It makes me feel alive to let go of where I was and go somewhere new, as I like to be in motion and clearly I am not alone in this perspective. Creative people are forever re-engineering their lives and our world which is where progress comes from, which is a good thing worth celebrating and calling out.

As an infrequent practitioner of the religion I was born into, I had to be reminded by my sister that Rosh Hashanah was coming in a few days. As a dedicated pivot fanatic I immediately jumped on the excuse to regard today as a special opportunity to change. To be fair, I do have a lot of these days, as I feel any moment could be a time for change, but why waste a perfectly good culturally sanctioned coming down from above directive to zoom out and take a look from a meta-perspective at what is going on, and how to change it.

This holiday occurs at a point where seasons are changing, especially clearly in New England where leaves are on the move and the color show is just breaking out. Coincidentally the school year has just begun for millions. I will be driving today through said foliage on the way to a super exciting school in New York City, making the number of pivoting excuses at an all time high today, even for an entrepreneurial involuntary innovator addicted to pivoting.

Guess it is time to figure out what to pivot about now that I have invited all of you to do it.