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Wrap up the old, ring in the new with Einstein | Cypress Semiconductor

Wrap up the old, ring in the new with Einstein

As I scramble to wrap up the projects of 2010 and begin to look forward to the pile of projects for 2011 (growing in scope and number like a cancer), two questions come to my mind - How did I get here? and What do I do next year to make it better? How better to "stand on the shoulders of giants" than to learn from Einstein, specifically from his quotes.

 

Five Lessons from Albert Einstein for 2011

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction."

1 - In 2011, look for the simple, peaceful solution. In an email discussion, it might mean responding with a simple "yes" or "no" or if the "question" hides a request for action from you "yes (or no), but I cannot address it now". About the "violent" part, this is a bit more difficult, but in discussions and emails as well as project reviews, seek to "deflate" conflict rather than ride it or fuel it. Simplicity comes through peace and thought, complexity through stress and reaction.


"Imagination is more important than knowledge."

2 - In 2011, take a moment to imagine the result of an action before taking it. True, you may not "know" what will happen, but through past experience it is likely you do know many bad things the can happen. Knowing how to solve a particular problem may come after imagining life after the problem is solved.


"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."

3 - In 2011, make mistakes. allow others to make mistakes and do not fear mistakes. It is through mistakes we learn and teach our brains (the emotional, quick response part) how to better guide us in the future. More importantly, expect mistakes and plan to capitalize on them. This doesn't mean to stop paying attention to your work so it is littered with mistakes. Allow yourself to stretch and expect that in doing so there will be mistakes, so plan accordingly. Avoid plans and schedules that expect every piece of toast to land jelly-side up.


"Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts."

4 - in 2011, make a point to recognize the achievements that don't have numbers attached. In a culture that thrives on numbers, this can be difficult, so this advice may need to be set on its head. Instead of lamenting "uncountable" achievements, provide a way to count them. One simple, straightforward way is to share. This may mean writing it down in a memo or whitepaper or arranging a training session for others. Because...

 

"The only real valuable thing is intuition."

5 - In 2011, make intuition your goal. Intuition is what gets you through life faster and easier. Building intuition is really the point of all the other points above. When you understand something intuitively, you can be creative, when you don't, you will bump into walls repeatedly. Of course, learning from the walls you bump into (the mistakes) will help you build intuition. So will asking why, especially of yourself.

 

In 2010 I wrote myself a message on my whiteboard - "WHY ARE WE DOING IT?". This message was meant to force me back to ground zero whenever I got caught up in the tasks and lost sight of the mission. I thought if I (intuitively) understood why "we" were doing something I could better face the obstacles, mistakes and problems that came along, and more importantly, explain to others the actions we were taking. I will keep that message up as the new year turns over, hopefully taking it more and more to heart.

Of course, all of the above could just be the imaginings of a madman. When I looked into the source of the quote "standing on the shoulders of giants" I found this quote from Nietzche: "(progress) can only come from those rare giants among men shouting out to one another across the annals of time." May Einstein's thoughts one day reach the ears of another giant, but in the meantime, the view is terrific.

Jon Pearson
Methods and Madness, Dec 29, 2010

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