Monday, February 10, 2020

Did You Hear About It?

Written by Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, February 6, 2020

There was a day, past tense, where I had a morning routine.  When I first woke up and got past the hygiene duties, I would then check my emails (took only a few minutes) and then I would read something positive to start my day on a positive note.  Then along came Social Media.  I added checking Social Media, primarily Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter right after I checked my emails.  I don’t know how much time I spent doing these four things but I can assure you it was far more than either deserved.  What I have since discovered is that between Facebook and Twitter there is far more negative posts than positive posts and yes some of those negative posts have been from yours truly.  Linkedin was more of a business orientated site and therefore the entries were neutral to positive in nature.

One of my favorite authors/trainers is Jeffrey Gitomer and Gitomer suggests that we all resign our position of Chief Executive Officer of World Matters and concentrate/focus on the things that do matter most to us.  Something we can actually do something about.  What a novel idea.  I recently finished reading QBQ! The Question Behind the Question written by John G. Miller (for the third or fourth time) and again I was reminded about how important it is that we ask questions of ourselves to insure we are on the right track to success, achieving our goals and hopefully happiness. 

What does all that mean?  Thought you would never ask.  To me it means I have been spending way too much time on things that are best labeled as non-important or even better as non-important-there-is-nothing-I-can-do-about-them-so-forget-about-even-looking-or-listening-to-them status. 

As a test I suggest watching the local news for 30 minutes.  It typically consists of news, weather and sports.  You can eliminate one of them by putting your head out the window or just looking up today’s weather on the Internet.  News?  It is usually very negative.  If it bleeds, it leads!  Do you really need to listen to negative bleeding news stories?  As for sports, you can program your phone to send you a message with the latest scores for your favorite teams.  You have just eliminated a need to watch even the local news.  On a typical New Orleans area evening news, you will see the 45th update on the collapse clean up of the Hard Rock Hotel, a couple of more people shot or murdered, numerous car break-ins and an occasional story you may not have heard.  Two segments on the weather and then news about the local sports teams and virtually nothing on national sporting news.  It is the same things, night after night.  What can you do about any of it?  Nothing!

National news is a different kind of animal.  You can deny it or not; if you actually listen to the words the National News Media uses in its reports, you can quickly pick out the words and phrases used to lead you in a certain direction in regards to your thinking and even your beliefs.  Making matters worse, most of the major news sources are owned by a very small number of people.  If the direction of the news comes from its owners it would then be understandable as to how it could have a bias in one direction or another.  It can also cost a great deal of money to put on a national news show and that means advertisers.  If YOU were advertising on any television show, not just news shows, you as well would have certain beliefs you would prefer to support or not support.  Therefore, the news content has a strong input by ownership and advertisers before it is even broadcast.  A great many news stories contain false information that appears to be true just like a lot of Social Media has posts that appear to be real news but again are false.

Let’s say you are not aware of some news story that may or may not be important to you.  Don’t you think that a member of your family or a friend or a social media post will ask you, did you hear about it?  Did you see it on TV?  Did you read about it?  Just look around and watch the number of smart phones being flashed in people’s faces to make sure they have seen, heard or read about something important.

The next time you watch a national news program, instead of just mindlessly sitting and watching, actually listen to the words used and you decide if the words were specifically used to draw a conclusion from you or lead you in a direction you may not have gone on your own.  Something as mundane as voice fluctuation can cause you to think in a certain way or change the meaning of a simple sentence.  Want proof.  Read the following sentence over and over again but put voice emphasis on the word emboldened and see how it changes the meaning of the sentence.

I did not say I beat my wife.  I didn’t say it but someone else may have.
I DID not say I beat my wife.  It was something I actually DID but then qualified it.
I did NOT say I beat my wife. I simply said no such thing
I did not SAY I beat my wife.  I did not say it but I may have implied it
I did not say I beat my wife.  I did not say it was me who beat my wife, could have been Joe
I did not say I BEAT my wife.  It was not a beating, maybe a little roughing up
I did not say I beat MY wife.  It was not my wife who I beat, I beat the neighbor’s wife
I did not say I beat my WIFE. It was not my wife, it was actually my dog I beat.

I have found that political discussions are far and away the worse.  A reporter will ask a question of a politician and the politician will provide an answer.  Often the answers do not fit the question.  The problem occurs when the reporter rarely challenges the politician to explain their position further or asks follow up questions to get to the truth.  As such if you tend to believe what you hear, you may in fact be hearing a false narrative that goes unchallenged by the reporters.  You are then left with a very one-sided and often times false news story.

So, you watch the news, first thing in the morning, maybe during lunch and then again at supper.  But the worse news cast is the late-night news.  Think about it because that is what your brain will be doing when you think it is trying to sleep.  You get one more bite at the late-night NEGATIVE news just before closing your eyes thinking you are going to get a good night’s sleep.  WRONG!  It just doesn’t work like that.  Unless you practice, you cannot turn your brain off and on with the snap of your fingers.  You have just fed your brain negative information.  How will your brain process that information?

Challenge #1:  Go for just one day without turning on any news program – NONE!  At the end of the day, assess how you feel.  Do you feel like you are experiencing anxiety or withdrawals?  Do you think you missed out on something important?  What will you do tomorrow morning whether you watched today’s news or not?  Most people think they “need to know” the news because it is important?  Is it?  It may be important to someone but is it important enough to you for you to take some sort of action?  I seriously doubt it. Will you change some activity that you normally engage in because of something you heard on the news?  Again, I seriously doubt it.  If you smoke, have you not heard “news stories” on the hazards of smoking?  But you smoke anyway.  If you hear how bad sugar can be for your health do you reduce your sugar intake accordingly?  Do you reduce the sugar intake for your children?  Again, you may at first but will you continue on that path because it is the right thing to do or will you revert to what you did before you heard the newscast?

Challenge #2:  Learn to read.  I don’t mean teach yourself how to read words or a group of words, I mean really teach yourself the value of reading.  Here is an original quote from yours truly.  You can read for a CHANGE or your can READ for a change.  If you think about that you will get the humor in that one sentence.  Most people in spite of what they will tell you, just don’t read books anymore and haven’t since they left high school – studies have proven this.  5% or fewer Americans read just one book a year.  That means 95% do not read any books in a year.  Which group do you fall into?  When I say “learn to read” I am suggesting you do something to insure you are in the 5% not the 95%.  Set a goal to read.  I suggest you read at least one book a month; twelve books a year.  If you spent just 30 minutes NOT watching one newscast and spent the time reading, you will have read for 3.5 hours a week.  Most books can be read in 7 to 8 hours.  If that is true, reading just 30 minutes a day would equate to reading 2 books a month or 24 books a year.  If you are selective in your reading, you could improve upon your career, whatever that is or you can begin setting yourself up for a different career provided you read books related to the career you desire.  As an example, if you were in sales as I once was, can you see where you could and would improve your ability to sell and understand people by reading 24 books a year all relating to sales and self-improvement?

Challenge #3:  Imagine you are years into your retirement.  You are mentally reviewing your life thus far.  Would you be wishing that if only you had watched more television?  Or, would wish if only you read more books regarding your profession?  I have read over 1200 books and I didn’t start reading until I was age 44.  When it comes to my education, I feel that I have wasted a good portion of that time until I turned 44.  At the risk of sounding very immodest, I consider myself to be a very good manager and trainer.  Was I the best?  Not even close to the best but I was constantly getting better every day that I read. Compare that to being stagnant on the days I didn’t.  You are either advancing to your life’s BIG goal or you are actually falling behind.  In which direction are you going? Are you sure?

Challenge #4:  WRITE!  Does your family know what you do and what you have done that you would want them to know?  Will your grand children and great grand children and their children ever know what you did or have done?  It’s your legacy.  Don’t you want future members of your family to know your successes and ambitions?  Leave a written legacy; you won’t regret it!

I write these Nuggets for the Noggin because of my life’s mission statement/goal:  To help people do what they do, to do it better!  I then use Joe Tye’s Direction-Deflection-Question (DDQ) by asking, “Is what I’m about to say, do or write, consistent with my desire to help people do what they do to do it better?”  If yes, I say, do or write it.  If no, I don’t!  This Nugget was written to help people do what they do to do it better.  If it helps just one person, I have won the day but not the war.

Here's my email:  If you read one book more than you otherwise would have because of this Nugget, please email me the title and maybe even a short book review for my benefit.  I use my blog, to post book reviews on the books I have read as well as Nuggets such as this one.  I will certainly credit any review you write for having written it providing you give me permission to post it on my Blog.

ps   If you were to watch 60 minutes less news and use the time to read, that is about one book a week or 52 books a year.  You would definitely be an expert in your field, light years ahead of your competition.

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