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  • in reply to: Chapter 5 – Thought and Emotion #5369
    Agile Otter

    “Every humorist, if he is to develop, and still more if he is to retain after middle life his sense of Humour, requires a long succession of little acts of personal daring”

    in reply to: Chapter 5 – Thought and Emotion #5356
    Agile Otter


    Oh, I know! I know this!
    It’s… oh… it’s…. um…
    <whoa am I getting excited>
    I know this, umm…

    That was an example. I guess you want an explanation….

    It is a feeling, pretty reliable, that the idea has formed, but just hasn’t made it to the verbal forebrain yet. It’s there. It’s all connected up, and you just don’t (consciously) know what it is. It’s an anticipation and an excitement. Remember that we’re “thinking with the whole self” so not all thought is verbal and conscious.

    So intimation is a feeling you have as the nonverbal thought begins to translate to a verbal thought.

    After that is “enlightenment”, which is the instant you realize what your thought is.

    I hope that this posting caused it in you.

    in reply to: Chapter 4 – Stages Of Control #5344
    Agile Otter

    Any non-coaches reading this?

    G.W. did say that the work should be a different kind of activity. Then went on to the stories about walking and mountain climbing.
    “A Different Kind of Activity” would not be more of the same — another story, another feature, another test suite.

    So when I say “multitasking” here, I recognize that it’s about variety of activity, which apparently is as healthy as variety in diet. You should be able to do many things, so that the thing that requires the most thought can run in the background.

    Maybe what you need is to give the preso a break for a day, then have a conversation about it with someone. We are someones. Then if you don’t have it, go back to preparation again. I’ve found it a good pattern for me, but I’m not everyone.

    in reply to: Chapter 4 – Stages Of Control #5327
    Agile Otter

    Oh, by the way, the talk was very successful and very well-received. It was a feather in his cap, and led to other opportunities to share.
    I got an email from him a year or two later. One of the young ladies under my tutelage is also now a full-time SM there, and that’s kind of nice. If we make good connections, and have good theory behind our work, we will influence the next generation of thinkers at some organizations.

    in reply to: Chapter 4 – Stages Of Control #5326
    Agile Otter

    A quick story:

    I was coaching at a Chicago company and one of the young SMs I was mentoring was asked to give a talk in the afternoon.
    He was frantic. He thought he had good content generally, but there was so much of it, and he wasn’t sure it was organized, or how to present it. He felt like he was missing something that should be obvious (note my “frustration is excellent” bit here).

    After talking to him, I realized he was blocking his incubation, probably preventing intimation. I suggested that he counter-intuitively put it down for an hour and a half and refuse to think about it. He could do anything else, go to lunch, take a walk, but he was to let his brain have the problem and not interfere with it. Then if it doesn’t do the trick, 45 minutes before the talk I’d join him in final edits and we’ll go for “good enough.”

    It took 45 minutes of undisturbed processing time for his hindbrain to reach intimation. He realized the organizing principle he needed to have and put the edits out in another 5 or 10 minutes, deleting or hiding many slides and reformatting a few others.

    You can prevent yourself from completing your thinking. Incubation is real stuff, and I patted my friend on the back for being so aware of his mental state that he was aware that he had another thought brewing, but it was in a pre-verbal state. That story came to mind as I re-read the last half of chapter 4 on the plane last night.

    in reply to: Chapter 4 – Stages Of Control #5328
    Agile Otter

    Amitai: How did the 3 Minutes go?

    in reply to: How To Read #5304
    Agile Otter

    Highlight the shit out of it.

    in reply to: How To Read #5303
    Agile Otter

    Read the chapter twice, once to get familiar (skim, slide, peruse in a cursory manner) and then once to dig out the meaning.

    in reply to: How To Read #5302
    Agile Otter

    First tip: read the synopsis of a chapter at the front of the book before and after you read the chapter.

    in reply to: Chapter 4 – Stages Of Control #5298
    Agile Otter

    “Our mind is not likely to give us a clear answer to any particular problem unless we set it a clear question”

    Sounds a lot like TDD or BDD or simple story grooming to me. Getting a clear, concrete problem to solve seems to be a necessary step.

    I tell people that the worst way to solve a problem is in the abstract, in advance of any instance of the problem. I don’t know how to solve vague problems or build vaguely useful software. Or how to coach to general goodness or to avoid general badness.

    “… and we are more likely to notice the significance of any new piece of evidence or new association of ideas, if we have formed a definite conception of a case to be proved or disproved.”

    Ladder of inference, anyone?

    There is also a call out to cognitive dissonance, here in the description of a scientist who would feel his mind confused (“frustrated” I would say) until he discovered which of two contrary “facts” must be untrue.

    This is the chapter where Wallas extolls the virtues of multitasking.

    I am expecting to see some kickback there. “it is desirable not only that there should be an interval free from conscious thought on the particular problem concerned, but also that that interval should be so spent that nothing should interfere with the free working of the unconscious or partially conscious processes of the mind.”

    “The human organism gains more from the alternation of various forms of activity than from a consistent devotion to one form.”

    I was happily reminded by Wallas in this chapter that I really should not try to be always learning, always coding, always thinking but that it is good to sometimes “sit still and label his thoughts” — to examine what I’m thinking/feeling/incubating/intimating. Who am I in this question? What is this question to me? What am I thinking?”

    I hope this chapter helps you encourage and coax your thoughts into being felt and defined.

    in reply to: Chapter 3 – Thought Before Art #5290
    Agile Otter

    I finally got to this on the plane (twice).

    I like how Wallas pointed out that all human activities, even simple motions, have been observed and trained and theorized about.

    Of course, there was a lot of talk about primitive (nonverbal) thought, and the difference between that nearly-unconscious thought and fully-conscious thought — is it visual? Verbal? is it a thought-feeling? Is it a “force marker”? Whatever you can say, it makes it clear that intentional, PFC-occupied, rule-following thought is not the only (or the only useful) kind of thinking we do.

    The big question that seems to take most of the chapter is looking at what it is that leads a mind from one memory to another.

    What is the nature of the connection, or what are the natures of the connections?

    Again, this seems to me to strengthen the theme that not all thinking is intentional, trained, logical rule-following, and should not be considered in a mechanistic way.

    The title of course suggests that we’re exploring untrained thought — thinking without knowing the art of it. Likewise, we could be exploring the way that I draw pictures, and then talk about how a trained artist would do it.

    in reply to: Chapter 2 – Consciousness and Will #5286
    Agile Otter

    Oh, and in conversation, I’m told that it’s helpful to surrender the idea that you should be “providing value” because it takes us out of the moment and our attention off the person we’re speaking with.

    It was a revelation to me. I guess it goes with the idea of guys “always trying to fix it” instead of “just being present” — a common complaint I have heard from women in my life. I think I’m guilty.

    You’re not required to “provide value.” But we want to hear your opinions. Is there anything quotable in that chapter to you?

    in reply to: Chapter 2 – Consciousness and Will #5285
    Agile Otter

    The title of the chapter is not “self-consciousness and can’t.”

    You are invited here intentionally, and you deserve to be here.

    Not only that, but you modeled a beautiful bit of self-awareness in that you weren’t only thinking, you were thinking about how you were thinking and about whether you feel that you have sufficient background data.

    A huge component of the art of thought is that awareness; the ability to watch yourself think is a primary point of this chapter. Your will and consciousness is observable and by observing it you can influence it.

    We’re fancy-schmancy literary writers, but remember that we’re just as full of shit as anyone else, and suffer from all the same thinking incapacities that you’ll identify shortly. We’ve all got our heads up our considerable backsides sometimes.

    So you’re here. Do enjoy that. Don’t hold back. And thanks for the compliments just the same.

    in reply to: Chapter 2 – Consciousness and Will #5276
    Agile Otter

    Amitai: It’s not really fair for me to say, as I’ve read some of the later chapters prior to this group forming. I recommended the book to Don & Ryan on a podcast because of the later chapters on creative thought processes.

    Most of the baggage I carry around “consciousness’ tends to come from pseudo-mystical claptrap, where some guru will “raise you to a higher plane of consciousness” through whatever hokum.

    It’s a funny word, regardless. One one side, it describes your ability to be aware of, and interact with, beings and surroundings in your field of view. On another, it’s an awareness of invisible intentions and meanings that my take you out of your physical moment.

    I think, there fore I am conscious. I react to stimuli, therefore I’m not unconscious. I have a sense of object persistence, I have empathy, I have intentions beyond instinct and food- or sex-seeking. But some animals allegedly given only to instinct and selfishness seem to have a higher degree of presence and focus and some kind of “consciousness” than I do. The family dog is often more aware, intent, focused, and present than I am.

    That might even be his point, recognizing that animals and babies have consciousness — it’s not purely an attribute of the adult human mind. You might see him calling the example as accepting non-adult non-humans as conscious, not refuting it.

    This chapter really builds on the prior, about being whole and accepting the wholeness of being and thinking more than seeing oneself as a forebrain with some training. He hints at our ability to observe our thinking, including the nonverbal thinking, and watch to see how it works and when. Our ability to hold focus and observe the thinking at the periphery of our vision he holds as a kind of self-awareness that goes past intention and will in some ways to the person we are in our whole being.

    But that might be a spoiler.

    in reply to: Chapter 2 – Consciousness and Will #5274
    Agile Otter


    Where did you gather those attachments to the word “consciousness”? I’m curious what influences are indicated in what you said. I’ve heard people used it in qualitatively ways, and even as a synonym for ” life ” or “soul”

    Just wondering b/c it sounds like an interesting entree to knowing each other.

    And of course a hat tip to Don’s pragmatic choice of the more easily spelled option.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 21 total)