Institutionalized

Institutionalized.

That’s the word my “experienced” colleague used to describe his generation when we talked about how these trialling times of virtual working will change the way we see our workplaces in the future.

It gave me both a laugh and serious thought, not only because it brought flashbacks of one of Shawshank’s greatest moments of moral implications, but also because it reminds us as young professionals within our own organizations to think differently, to fight for what we believe the future of OUR workplaces should and will look like.

How do you think the way we work has and will change because of this?

Feature image – Grand People’s Study House, Pyongyang, North Korea. Taken on the 7th of March 2016

The Human Isolation

Even in the worst of times, we must look up at the possibilities and see a brighter future amidst all the chaos and fear.

What I find most incredible during The Isolation is the way people came together in ways that were unexpected and inspiring. It’s incredible to think that although we are more isolated than ever, we are also closer to one another than we have ever been before. There has never been another time in history where the people of the world have been forced to close off from one another but at the same time not be in fear of one another.

It’s incredible to think that although we are more isolated than ever, we are also closer to one another than we have ever been before.

Jason Li

The virtual media we have fostered over the last few years have allowed us to seamlessly upload our lives online. It was never intentional for this to be the case, yes we connected the world but at what initial cost? It was our attention that we lost first, a constant attention to social media. But who would of guessed that this virtual world, this social media would actually be a power for immense good during the worst of times?

At first it was our families and close friends who reached out to each other. It was as if they were by our side in the virtual plane. We couldn’t play outdoors so we played in-virtual-doors. Something that would normally take weeks to bring us together was a click away to see each other’s laughs and smiles, and there it was, as quick as we were isolated was as quick as we were reunited.

Our places of work, for years working from home was a “thing” people did but we rarely ever did ourselves. We looked at the work we do and wondered how this could even work at home, for some it was a lot easier than others, and for others it never seemed so straight forward. It took years for a company’s culture to change it’s perspective on working from home. It took days for the world to realise it’s actually a reality.

It took years for a company’s culture to change it’s perspective on working from home. It took days for the world to realise it’s actually a reality.

Jason Li

Then it was those age old friends, colleagues and one-on-one’s which you rarely ever get to see that catch up with you. And this is when something special happens. Even with years of separation, long distances and random conversations, you’ve never got to really know each other until now. It might be that a portion of the population is in fact more comfortable opening up (maybe at first or over time) in the virtual plane rather than in real life. There are barriers that are unseen or unbroken in reality that are, when we see each other over a distance. This is an interesting thought, one that I’ll carry to another day.

What all of this tells us is that what we lose from physical presence, we gain back by a virtual presence. It may not be the same, nor may it be more or less comfortable for some than others, but it is the way we’re moving forward for the future of humanity. I ask you this, readers, how long will it be until this virtual presence takes even another step into a virtual reality?

What all of this tells us is that what we lose from physical presence, we gain back by a virtual presence.

Jason Li

Thank’s for reading my friends. Let’s reach out to our family, friends and long lost friends during these times and make the most of it whilst it lasts.

Much love, Jason

P.s when I refer to The Isolation, it was the unprecedented event of Covid-19 which shook the world in 2019/2020.

Feature image – Pondering over the world in the backyard of my beautiful apartment in Notting Hill, London during The Isolation. Taken on the 22nd of March 2020

Five Years

Is it just me or does everyone hit a point in their lives where they think about where they are in life and how a lot of it, or certain aspects of it are not aligned with their goals and dreams they had in their minds.

Sometimes, even the thought of this reminds me of what sounds quite funny at first at the humble age of 26, but on a serious note, a midlife crisis. But what if this crisis is actually a representation of a modern crisis, one where it is a by-product of a generation that has been raised in the most globally connected, wealthy and “free” time in the history of mankind. We have something that our predesesors didn’t have until they were in their late thirties and that is more knowledge, more freedom and more choices. These choices whenever abundant can give rise to doubt; the what if’s that run through our minds when given options and we choose one over another.

The real big question is how does any of us know they’ve made the right choice? Some might tell you to follow your instincts, others base their decisions on the judgements of their close family and friends and furthermore others would use pure logic and reasoning to judge the right move. Risk over reward, right? Well, everyone has their own take on this and the truth is, no one really has the right answer.

All I know is that for me personally, I am at a crossroad, a point where I’ve still the freedom to change the direction in my life. Maybe that’s one we can all take away though, maybe at any given “present” moment, we can make that change. But for now, I am reaching what people call the 5-year mark, or the 5-year rule; it marks when you have been at a company or role for that amount of time and it’s a good time to change companies, go for that payrise or what I think is becoming more and more relevant in today’s age, change careers.

It was only years ago where we would say that job stability or dare I say life stability came from the amount of years you were employed for in a company. In fact, it’s quite likely we get that from our older colleagues of whom we work with; 10 years, 15 years, 25 years, 30 years! They’re incredibly proud of it and to me, that is one hell of an achievement because I can’t see further than 6 months into my future let alone 10 years!

Times have changed and they’ve changed so rapidly at that, I struggle to believe that staying in one company, in one role, being the “master of one” instead of the “jack of all trades” will be enough to survive in this modern world. This is not because it is not important to be a master, it is because it is increasingly becomming tougher to be a master of any trade. The knowledge that a master holds is becoming increasingly easier to access, you can see that with not just the immensity of the global knowledge held on the internet but the expert driven courses which can be found at your fingertips. Anyone can be an expert in a field so long as they put in the effort and significantly less time than 30 years. But even then, it is not those singular experts that truly move the world and make a difference, I believe it is those whom can bring expertise from a number of fields into one that can make the real change in the world.

So let’s say, we follow the 5-year rule, but the modern one. In 30 year’s you would of had 6 different careers, all spanning a wide range of interests, hobbies, dreams, goals and passions. Maybe one or two of them you really enjoyed and stayed on for longer, and maybe those in which you did not enjoy so much you stayed less.

Now I propose the most important question, one for the readers to think about, who has more expertise after 30 years? Who is more likely to have followed his or her dreams, achieved greater heights and will live to tell more stories?

It’s still a tough question, one that we all still have our own opinions on, but maybe this time after reading this, with just that tiny bit more clarity.

Thanks for reading my friends, I guess this one was more for me at this point of time in my life. It hasn’t come across because I don’t enjoy my work or I think there’s something better out there for me; it’s more the side of me that seeks to learn more about the world, the undying curiosity and adventure that I seek. Is one life too short to be spending 80% of your time on one thing? I would always, always, always say yes.

Feature image – Represents how slow we should be living life in retrospect to how fast it feels; this was during my wanderings on a little island national park at Yeosu-si, Jeollanam-do, South Korea taken on the 30th August 2017

Opportunity and Luck

Opportunies can be found around any corner of life. Often, it is not about the search to find them, but instead about being able to see them for what they are. They all have one thing in common and that one thing is how they all begin and this beginning, starts with you.

Opportunities don’t always come in the shape of you recieving. In fact, the greatest opportunities in life are those in which you can give. People say that the greatest gift in life is what you can give to others without expecting anything in return. Because what this gives you, despite the expectation, is luck; and what is luck? I believe that luck is simply opportunity in disguise!

I believe that luck is simply opportunity in disguise!

Jason Li

When you share your good fortune with others around you, over the long term, it will come back around and surprise you in so many ways. People who often attribute their successes to luck and just being in the right place at the right time often are understating all the work that has gone on behind the scenes. The truth is that it is not that fortune or luck favours them, it is how they position themselves now to create the opportunities that bring luck in their future! So how can we do this? Be proactive, get out there, talk to people, interact and engage with them, be genuine always, let them know what makes you excited and make sure they know how your talents might be able to help them with what makes them excited

Be proactive, get out there, talk to people, interact and engage with them, be genuine always, let them know what makes you excited and make sure they know how your talents might be able to help them with what makes them excited

Jason Li

Have you ever thought about what you can do to create an environment where opportunities flourish around you?

Thanks for reading ❤

Feature image – Disneyland, Tokyo, Japan taken on the 5th December 2018

The Right Path

I realised long ago that there is no right or wrong path to take in life. That we all are on our own paths, one which is unique to ourselves.

Why is it so then, that often-times we are tempted to look at others around us to seek and compare, to find satisfaction in thinking you’re ahead or find dissolution in falling behind.

In the modern world of social media, social profiles and social self marketing, we have to ask ourselves why we use these mediums to communicate to those around us. Is the picture perfect portrayal of your life only a reflection of anothers?

Learning to Learn – Personal Summary Notes

These are my personal notes taken to help understand the content behind how we as individuals learn new things in life.


Week 1

Our minds can wander between two modes of thinking:

  1. Focused Mode – Pre-frontal cortex; good with familiar contexts
  2. Diffused – representative of our resting state; good with understanding new ideas

Learning something new requires the ability to focus on the task at hand. When the task at hand proves difficult to understand or grasp, we then allow the diffused mode to take place, the resting state so that we may open our minds to a broader way of thinking about the problem.

The problem of procrastination:

  • Procrastination is your mind telling you that the task at hand is painful and wanting you to switch to something more pleasant, temporarily.
  • Use the Pomodoro technique; focus for 45minutes, rest for 15minutes.

Practice and repetition:

  • Working memory contains about 4 “slots” which you can switch between to work on a task.
  • Is key to allowing you to take information from the working memory into the long term memory. Set a time each day or a day each week to repeat or continue learning the topic.

Sleep and exercise:

  • Allows our brain to remove toxins built up during the day
  • Gives our brain the chance to catalogue information collected throughout the day
  • Exercise allows our brain to create new neurons in the hippocampus which aids in memory and learning.

Additional – Creativity and the 2 of the big 5 personality traits (OCEAN)

  • Openness – Is a highly positive trait that allows us to take in new ideas and be more creative
  • Concientiousness – Not significant
  • Extraversion – Not significant
  • Agreeableness – Is a negative trait as to disagree, to not conform means we challenge the status quo, challenge the moderm models.
  • Neurotism – Not significant

Additional – Writing

  • Biggest mistake is to edit (focused) while you’re writing (diffused)

Additional – Learning a language

  • Learn a new language for the right reasons, is it a language you’re excited to learn and why?
  • It’s about making mistakes, allowing yourself to make mistakes and not being scared to make those mistakes!! Language is really good with that because you can still be understood with pieces of a language.
  • Be careful with self fulfilling prophecies!

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, youre right” – Henry Ford.

  • Rote repetition is not the way to learn a word, try and use mnemonics (word association) to tie words to things you are familiar with or can visualise.

Week 2

Chunking

  • Chunking is the grouping of similar ideas into a single “chunk”. This helps when you recall ideas and topics, instead of the individual ideas that you are recalling, you instead recall the “chunk” and everything that has been embedded into the chunk follows with.
  • Focus attention and find patterns, don’t mistake moments of clarity as learning, this is understanding but won’t stick if you don’t practice.
  • Gain context (top-botton) to see where all the chunks (bottom-up) fit into the bigger picture.

Illusions of learning

  • Having the answers close by or in front of you or easily accessed can give up a false sense of understanding in our minds.
  • Re-learning or overlearning something you already know is comfortable and will give you an illusion that you know the topic well.
  • Recall is much much more effective than re-reading.
  • Simply recalling what you have learned (or any memory in fact) helps you to embed that memory deeper into the long term
  • A way to help you practice recall is testing yourself

Motivation – a neurochemical reaction

  • Acetycholine affects focused learning and attention. They project widely and activate circuits that control synaptic plasticity leading to long term memory.
  • Dopamine signals in relation to unexpected rewards and can predict future rewards
  • Seratonin affects social life and risk taking

Interleaving

  • Once confident with a topic, try to approach the problem from another direction, with a different mindset, try to use the problem in ways different from the normal repetitive sense.

Habits

  • Habits are an incredible tool to move past procrastination
  • There are four parts to forming a habit.
    1. The cue – the signal that begins the routine
      • Usually happens based on location, time, feelings and routine.
    2. The routine – what you automatically do when you see that cue
      • You must notice and actively focus on rewiring your routine. So have a plan of what to do when you see the cue.
    3. The reward – the satisfaction and good feeling you get from doing the routine
      • Provide yourself with a reward which could be anything from food to relaxing etc
    4. The belief – that you can overcome or take on this new habit

Process vs Product

  • Focus on the process and not the end product
  • Process = steps involved
  • Product = the thing which is to be completed

Practical ways of changing habits

  • Brief weekly list of key tasks to achieve
  • Before bed, write down what you can reasonbly work on or complete the next day
  • You can adjust this to your work life. Write a list of tasks that must be achieved by the week then each morning spend some time writing down what will be acheieved that day.
  • It is good to have little tasks within the day that you can check off whether it’s time for cleaning your desk, grabbing some tea or going for a walk, this mixes things up and makes things fun.
  • Additionally, it is important to have a finish time listed each day. A combination of work and play is more effective than long hours of work.
  • And remember – Eat your frogs first everyday! 🙂

Memory

  • Visual memory is powerful. Link topics, formulas and concepts to visual cues whenever you can which will help you remember.
  • Use the memory palace for lists and groups of things
  • It is our Hippocampus in our brains that helps us learn and remember new things
  • The process of Consolidation, Reconsolidation and Reactivation occurs during your sleep.
  • Consolidation – The process wherby the hippocampus helps store memories
  • Reconsolidation – whenever a memory is recalled

Becoming a better learner – Tips

  • Exercise is the No.1 most important thing in helping neurons in the brain survive.
  • Practice makes perfect only when you are prepared.

Visual Metaphor & Analogies

  • Assist glue ideas with existing ideas already present in your mind
  • Try to use yourself as the concept you are trying to understand. I.e the flow of electrons can be imagined by you flowing in the river that is run by a pump.

People learn by trying to make sense of the information they perceive. Rarely do people learn by only being told how things are.

Sneaking off to learn on your own to learn is when you’ll begin to see that what teachers and experts show you is only a partial version of the whole picture. Charles Darwin “snuck” away from his medical degree to join a ship around the world to wander around on his own to see nature first hand. Take responsibility of your own learning.

Deliberate practice of the real tough areas of the subject is key to listing your expertise.

Watch out for Imposter Syndrome when you are trying to learn. It’s when you feel like you are learning the content slower than others or that you’re not good enough to learn it, that others will find this out. Everyone has different gifts, when one door closes, another one opens, keep your chin up and eyes on the open door.

We know something for sure: You can make significant changes in our brain by changing how we think.

Take pride in aiming for success because of the very things that make others say you can’t do it. Take pride in the qualities that make you, you and use them as a secret talisman for success. Use your natural contrariness to defy the always present prejuges from others who will try to undermine your success.

Hard Start – Jump to Easy

In an exam you should start by looking through all the questions and starting with the hardest one. As soon as you get stuck on the tough question, go to do an easier question then go back to the hard question later.

A Long Walk

A long walk.

There’s something about a day spent walking that brings thoughts to me. A day spent walking feels like a day that stretches as long as the distance is far. It is where the twists and turns that the path reveals with each step feel like those in which life takes you on each and every day. Have you ever wondered how they often seem alike to you?

How a straight path guides you to what you can see clearly and safely up ahead. How one that twists and turns can make you dizzy with wonder at what’s in front of you. How sudden a corner can creep up to you and is there before you even know it. What’s more is the corner in which forks in two directions before you’ve even decided. And what to do with those paths that end with what seemingly feels like nowhere else to go. But i think what’s most unsettling, are those that lead you back to where you began, as if you’d never left the place you stand; but the night falls still, none a wiser to where you’d hoped to go.

There’s something about a day spent walking that brings thoughts to me. How i wonder so often where the path will take me.

❤ Jason