Limerence

Interesting op-ed piece in NYTimes by David Brooks on what he calls “the new humanism.” If we realize that we cannot separate our rational mind from our emotions, nor our conscious actions from our unconscious ones, we can start to honor the complexity that is the human being.

This growing, dispersed body of research reminds us of a few key insights. First, the unconscious parts of the mind are most of the mind, where many of the most impressive feats of thinking take place. Second, emotion is not opposed to reason; our emotions assign value to things and are the basis of reason. Finally, we are not individuals who form relationships. We are social animals, deeply interpenetrated with one another, who emerge out of relationships…

When you synthesize this research, you get different perspectives on everything from business to family to politics. You pay less attention to how people analyze the world but more to how they perceive and organize it in their minds. You pay a bit less attention to individual traits and more to the quality of relationships between people.

You get a different view of, say, human capital. Over the past few decades, we have tended to define human capital in the narrow way, emphasizing I.Q., degrees, and professional skills. Those are all important, obviously, but this research illuminates a range of deeper talents, which span reason and emotion and make a hash of both categories:

  • Attunement: the ability to enter other minds and learn what they have to offer.
  • Equipoise: the ability to serenely monitor the movements of one’s own mind and correct for biases and shortcomings.
  • Metis: the ability to see patterns in the world and derive a gist from complex situations.
  • Sympathy: the ability to fall into a rhythm with those around you and thrive in groups.
  • Limerence: This isn’t a talent as much as a motivation. The conscious mind hungers for money and success, but the unconscious mind hungers for those moments of transcendence when the skull line falls away and we are lost in love for another, the challenge of a task or the love of God. Some people seem to experience this drive more powerfully than others.

The last one—Limerence (besides being an awesome new word-of-the-day!)—reminds me of a main theme in Madeleine L’Engle’s A Ring of Endless Light. The main character Vicky tries to figure out who she is and to make sense of these verses by Sir Thomas Browne that her grandfather has painted on the wall:

If thou could’st empty all thyself of self,
Like to a shell dishabitted,
Them might He find thee on the ocean shelf,
And say, “This is not dead,”
And fill thee with Himself instead.

But thou art all replete with very thou
And hast such shrewd activity,
That when He comes He says, “This is enow
Unto itself—’twere better let it be,
It is so small and full, there is no room for me.”

She wonders when is she most herself, and when is she NOT “all replete with very me”? Later on in the book, she has a conversation with a new friend Adam, and she figures out that there are a few circumstances when she can be truly herself without thinking about her self at the same time:

  • when she is fully experiencing a new moment with another person (or dolphin, as it were in the novel)
  • when she is writing and the poem is telling her where it wants to go instead of her directing it. (And Adam, who is a marine biologist, analogizes that to scientific minds whose insights find them vs. the other way around.)

Good reminders as I move into another decision-making period of my life. What do I value, what/who do I want my days to be full of, and what do I want to really be working toward?

Hustle for intros

Good job hunting advice in general, but for this job posting working your network is required:

If you’ve made it this far and are still interested, here’s how to apply:

  • Don’t email, send us a resume or link to your online presence unless we already know you. If we don’t know you, it will be deleted.
  • A personal intro is the only way to apply for this job. You can get a head start on finding that intro by reviewing our portfolio companies, looking at the people Tim and I follow on Twitter or search LinkedIn to see if you know any people Tim, Mark or I know.

Our experience over the years has shown that wide open Associate searches are far less effective for us than intros to candidates from people we trust. If you, or someone you know, fits the above description and has the hustle to work for an intro we’d love to talk to you about joining team OATV.

[via Christina Cacioppo]

FOMO

I admit it: FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) drives my twitter addiction (must read til last left off!) and subsequently my crazy browser windows full of unread tab upon unread tab. It used to drive my Google Reader addiction (must read every last post!) but that stopped once Twitter flooded my horizons, and my subscriptions got too big. Now I only read a few select RSS streams, and it’s a much more controlled and therefore more pleasurable experience.

This was the post that introduced me to the concept of FOMO and has helped me to take a new look at how I handle SXSW and my social media streams—a continuing struggle with renewed reflection now that I have a sensible framework in which to think about the problem.

FOMO is a great motivator of human behavior, and I think a crucial key to understanding social software, and why it works the way it does. Many people have studied the game mechanics that keep people collecting things (points, trophies, check-ins, mayorships, kudos). Others have studied how the neurochemistry that keeps us checking Facebook every five minutes is similar to the neurochemistry fueling addiction. Social media has made us even more aware of the things we are missing out on. You’re home alone, but watching your friends status updates tell of a great party happening somewhere. You are aware of more parties than ever before. And, like gym memberships, adding Bergman movies to your Netflix queue and piling up unread copies of the New Yorker, watching these feeds gives you a sense that you’re participating, not missing out, even when you are.

There is a company that sells radar equipment to the police as well as radar detectors to the public. Clorox is one of the world’s worst polluters of water, and also sells Brita filters to get the bad stuff out of the water again. Lawyers create mazes that you have to hire a lawyer to escape. Similarly social software both creates and cures FOMO. If you didn’t know that party was going on, you’d be home contentedly reading your latest New Yorker. But since you do, you hungrily watch each new tweet.

[via the Twitter stream…where else?]

The Fourth ‘R’: Rethink

6. The Fourth “R.” The final point is an overarching one. As Mandzik explains, “For the system to work people will need to not only reduce, reuse, and recycle, but also to Rethink. It’s important, he urges, that we “rethink our behavior and lifestyle. This is not to say that one should make drastic lifestyle changes or live like an extremist. Rather it means questioning some basic habits.” Like not buying something because it has too much packaging. Or like remembering to keep a reusable shopping bag in your backseat, purse, or backpack.

YES!

[via Good, “How to Achieve Zero Waste at Home in Six Steps”]