Ever Play 20 Questions?

When you were a kid did you ever play 20 questions? It was a fun game to help pass the time. It basically worked by everyone agreeing on a topic (person, thing, activity, etc.) One person would pick something based on the topic. Everyone else playing the game would ask the person questions for a yes or no answer. A few years ago, an electronic game of the same name, and played the same way was a hit in the marketplace as a holiday gift.

Today, I promised you forests of decision trees, and here I am talking about games. The neat thing is, the 20 questions game is the same decision matrix which is used in the decision tree. You ask a series of questions for which there can only be a yes or no answer. You do need to verify the answers as you go. This, though, is often the easiest, and smartest way to discover root cause, or help you decide on a course of action.

If you look at the trees, each junction has two branches. A red branch which we will call the ‘No’ branch, and, a green branch which we will call the ‘Yes’ branch. It is always good to draw your decision tree as you go.

You can do this in your notebook, on a whiteboard, on your computer, on a tablet, or on your smartphone, depending on what type of software you have loaded. I like to put mine either in my tablet or in my notebook so I can refer to the decision tree later.

Remember, a no is not always the end of a line of questioning. You can explore a no route, although it is often easier and more correct to follow the yes trail. By doing so, you stay on a positive path. If you do this, ask the questions in a way that yes leads you on, and no helps you to eliminate something. In that case, and it is the case I recommend, your tree will look like the one on the right above.

Let’s run a practice decision tree just to test one out. This is something that happened to me last night, and although I did not draw the decision tree at the time, these are the steps I took.

Last night the pencil to my iPad did not work, I was frustrated. It cost hundred dollars, and I was in no mood, nor prepared to buy another one. So this means I had to figure out why and make the pencil work again. This decision tree will be the one on the right, not the forest on the left.

  1. Is the pencil not working properly? Yes, not working
  2. Is the pencil charged? Yes (I charged the pencil for 15 minutes to ensure it was charged.)
  3. Is the charge port working? Yes (I could charge the iPad)
  4. Does charging the pencil external to the iPad work? No (tried it, this means it’s not the charging port)
  5. Is there an explanation in the pencil guide online? Yes (I followed the instructions)
  6. Does the pencil now work? Yes

I learned new things last night. I also learned not to be the cliché of the guy who reads the instructions only as the last step. Next time, I will move reading the instructions further up the list.

Whether I do it consciously or subconsciously, I like the decision trees.

 

 

 

 

 

We All Desire Our Comfort Zone

Did you make your lists for Wednesday? If they caused you any consternation, I first must apologize, and secondly, let you know that is a good thing. Consternation is what comes the when you start to realize that not everything is where you want it. The realization helps you move to the fact that sometimes to get what you really want, changes must come from within.

Change is good. Change happens all the time. Many, though, fear change. If you’re sitting in a very comfortable spot in your nice easy chair, and you’re comfortable, and even though it’s not where you want to be, at least you know everything that’s there.  We call this the comfort zone.  We all desire the familiarity of the comfort zone, no matter how bad the circumstances.

There’s a well-known concept in physics that it takes more energy to start something moving, then to keep it moving. As a process engineer, I used to measure the differences when designing manufacturing lines and how much energy people needed to exert. The same is true between starting and sustained movement from an old comfort zone to a better one.

Yet if we did not venture from our comfort zone, how would we ever grow? How would we grow as a person if we did not leave our happy home and venture to kindergarten or school? How would we grow financially if we never took that first job? How would we grow as a people if we failed to sail the seas, discover new lands, learn to fly, and develop the technology to explore moons and planets?

I like my comfort. I like learning and growing even more. Our assignment for tonight is to think. Will where I am right now last forever? It is rare that something will last forever. Do I like to learn and grow? If I do not grow with my surroundings, does that mean I get left behind? And if I get left behind, what happens to my comfort zone?

These are just some good thoughts that we do need to consider. Often, it’s best to consider these questions before being overtaken, and left in the backwater.

Think of this today, and tomorrow we will explore ways to live, grow and excel.

And Yet I Wondered

As I drove to work today, I passed the high school. I noticed an old man, sitting on the corner by the high school, looking tired and dejected. Next to him was an old baby carriage which held all his earthly possessions piled high, covered over with blankets and tarps, all in a heap just about as tall as he was. It made me wonder.

I went on to work. After a while got up to stretch my legs. I walked out to the corner of the block. A crew of construction workers was digging up the street to replace the storm drains. The storm drains had not been replaced in over 100 years and were well in need of the updating. I watched the crew as they tore the road apart. They had the sidewalks close in two directions, denying people from my corner the chance to cross the street. And, they were dismantling the traffic light base. It made me wonder.

On the way back to my office, I said hello to a lady who was walking by. She stopped and talked with me for a few moments. We talked about the way the town used to look.

We talked about the pride of keeping up with infrastructure. We discussed the copper thefts of the decade ago when thieves stole cable to many of the streetlights. We talked about how copper was so valuable to someone that sprinkler systems and copper statues were stolen. Even air conditioner condensers were stolen from the backs of buildings because of the copper tubing inside. We agreed that we had a great new counsel who would help us to bring the city back to its greatness.

And yet, I wondered.

I wonder how we can build a better  infrastructure.  How we can balance the care of material things and the care of people. I wonder why people end up on the street pushing an old basket of worldly possessions, because I seem to see them more and more.

I also wonder why people would be so destitute, they would be willing to steal electrified copper wire, providing electricity to street lights which are a safety concern of all of us. I wonder why as we build our infrastructure renewing it and keeping the city current and beautiful, we still have those whose life is so difficult and are so far out of touch.

It is said the poor will be with us always. This is true. And yet, we must understand that society is caught in lockstep. The height of society can only go as high as the lowest member of society can allow. For society to climb a ladder and go higher, the least of society must be able to move up the ladder an equal distance. If this does not happen, growth stops, everyone stagnates, and entropy enters the mix as the society starts to crumble.

Today, I still wonder. What can we do as a society to elevate the poorest and lowest among us so that we may pave the way and climb higher? I also wonder if we do not take on the challenge to raise the least of society how will we ever climb higher. I also wonder as we start to crumble, what will the entropy look like.

Please add your ideas and thoughts to this blog.  Thank you for reading.

 

You Will Realize It When…

We own our fate. All the good and all the bad. Even when we feel not in control, we are responsible for ourselves.  We have family, friends, bosses, co-workers and support staff.  They truly help. No one is an Island. And everyone counts on others in their lives to help them win the day.

Yet in the hand, each of us needs to stand and deliver. The fighter in the ring, the lecturer, the course designer, the salesman, the Bartender, the cook, the secretary, the flight attendant, the doctor, the Explorer, the entrepreneur, and thousands of others, all have support staff either up or down the chain. And, they all have their moments where they put everything on the line.

Should we fear this and try to change it? Do we need to go to two-person integrity? Should we give up and hide? We know all the answers to these are no, of course not.

As much as we enjoy the comradery and support of those around us, those we love, and those we hold dear, what we do when we stand alone actually is a large part of making us who we are.

Be generous and share your wins with all those around you. Even if you’re a pilot that just flew the perfect mission, remember that you would have never gotten the plane off the ground if it wasn’t for some airman ensuring the air in the Planes tires was correct.

How alone are we in the world? Imagine the realization of the fighter pilot who, while walking out to his aircraft, is thrown a set of keys from an airman who says, “Well sir, if you bring her back I’ll fix her up again.”

Yet when standing there alone, you may find that the spirit of everyone who has gone before you, the essence of your coworkers and the love of your family surrounds you in knowledge, comfort, and love.

Are You Looking in the Right Direction?

We all seem to be in search of something. Moreover, there are many people out there who are willing to lead us on that search in exchange, in exchange for something they want. They may want money or attention, or understanding or belief they are doing good or fulfilling some purpose. They do want something.

The question is, do those offering you guidance understand what you are looking for and can they really provide what you are need requires?

I find it interesting that our eyes set at the front of our body on the high ground and focus outwards. Unless you look in the mirror, you do not see an image of yourself, and it is hard to see what goes on behind the eyes. You have to look around look behind you again more mirrors with images.

The question I have today is, ‘Are you looking in the right place?’ Or, are you running all over the place looking here and looking there for answers? Do you seek things in many places, yet, never seem to be able to find them? Do the claims of others somehow generally leave you short of where you want to be, feeling somehow less, and somehow again without.

There is another place you can look. The place is one of the hardest to look and yet one of the easiest to get. You need to look within yourself.

Is there anybody who knows you better than you do? Who knows what you want? You do. Who knows what you like and don’t like? You do. Who knows how far you are willing to go to get something done, and done the way you want it done? Oh yeah, that is you. Okay

Reach out to the world to collaborate, to communicate, to solve technical issues, and to learn new ideas. Never let others tell you who you are or who you should be throwing a strong keep.

Would you like to discuss the idea of internal growth?  Please leave a comment. You can always reach me at mikeb@readingsticks.space

Changing Our Ways

A new year starts beginning of this next week.  A new calendar beginning is a traditional time that we set aside each 365 days to look at where we are, and where we want to go in life.

New years is the time when we evaluate our actions.  We promise better dietary control, more exercise, or a heightened control of our time and finances. The truth is, we are creatures of habit.

The annual exercise of betterment, spurred by a desire for growth, then plays out to ultimate failure.  Why?  Because the participants are working on the desired after-effect and not the underlying principles and actions that require a fundamental change to create the positive and desired actions. Continue reading “Changing Our Ways”