Home Alone

Festive thanks – offline for a few days

Heartfelt thanks to everyone subscribing to my blog. Wishing you all the best of holiday breaks. And best wishes to friends old and new for supporting, sharing, engaging to make distances not so far in lockdown. And my wider network for all manner of project and psychological challenge.

Christmas Day 2021 is day 652 of lockdown for my wife and I. Second Christmas spent away from family. Most keenly felt on this family day. Dare we hope next year will be more the norm of old?

A social media black-out is my plan for a few days now. Sharing our Noel with our wildlife friends. Blogging returning in the New Year.

See you all in 2022…

Is distraction good for you?

Distraction as an action, not a reaction

I am constantly distracted, when I want to be. My early years school reports concluded it was a trait to tame. But these days it is quite intentional. Or at least with my adult brain, I kid myself the same. Because we are each distracted whether we like to be or not.

As I continue to stretch my understanding of projects, and of people, and the paradigms that connect them both, so the distractions constantly bombard my mind. Not that I am unusual. It is the natural tendency of all of us. Part of our innate complexity, the brain’s counterpoint, constantly optioneering. It is only the awareness of this fact that we get to change.

We can train a warrior-like discipline. Learn to control urges and withstand pain. But there is more to this than will-power, at least if we want to be more than just a summation of sub-routines to repeat and engrain.

This is what we can do when meditating. We are taking interest in distraction. Even if that interest is just intending means to not be distracted. Or, we may be learning to positions ourselves behind distraction, sitting along-side it, or taking perspective from it. We may simply be learning to confront it, or finds ways to calm it. Both ancient practices and modern science are informing us we need to spend as much time outwardly focused as we do inwardly aware.

This is also what we do when we communicate. We invite, or attempt to initiate, distraction. We are presenting new perspective to another. We are receiving new perspective from another. We may be sharing or discovering new perspectives with each other. Meditating is one example of an active means of understanding this. Communication is an active way of doing much the same beyond our individual minds.

A distraction reaction, in action

By way of example of this in practice, I offer an observation I wrote in passing in a post on LinkedIn today. At the time, I had been reviewing some documents for work. On my mind were preparations for exams for my MSc in January. Yet my eyes and hands conspired to click onto LinkedIn. Subconsciously, my brain was asking for a dopamine hit to feed the addiction that now claims us all. So this was itself a distraction from the tasks upon my desk.

This is most pertinent to those who say yes too much. It’s important to find yourself doing so, and consider why. If being helpful is your curse, consider what you are not able to do because of all you have agreed to do. Crucially, check if the things you cannot now do are actually more important. Even more importantly, be honest with yourself and challenge your answer. Because behind all of this may be fear of that bigger thing. The more important thing. The thing that is harder to say yes to, maybe closer to your goal. Being busy serving others without clarity of why this is your best path, may be taking a heavy long-term toll.

Chances are the one thing someone has asked you to do that challenges you the most, is the one thing you find reason to say no to.

Saying no more often is step two. Step one is saying yes to those rarer opportunities that you doubt you can do, and that people less regularly request.

Step three is finding your own yes. Then its other people that think twice about saying no, to you.

My observations on LinkedIn 22 Dec 2021

This was my response to a poll on LinkedIn, asking “are you a “YES” person? How often do you say NO?”

It was only from responding to this post, and then returning to a specific query I was fielding, that brought both items together. The recurring project problem I was looking at was one part feeling obliged to say “yes” to even more formal reporting, when their better perspective could be offered by doing more, and reporting less. Which therefore required them to find constructive ways of saying “no”.

Learn how to channel your distractions

This is what we do in every moment of every day. We manage distraction, demands of attention, but in doing so we encourage a lateral connectivity. Each brain is wired slightly differently, nature makes this inevitably the way. We are the aggregation of our experience, and no two are therefore the same. The machinations of experiences creating happenstances that a more mechanised and optimised singular focus would not.

We also have much going on within the brain that is intentionally acting without our awareness. There is no conscious decision-making in temperature control or heart-beat, but nor is there is cognitive function of reading, or recoiling from something hot. We may not even need the brain at all to regulate the gut. We are however, a rarity of biological sets of processes to have some illusion of awareness at all. It is this awareness that enables each of us to compare. To be situationally aware. And by our abstraction of the real, both mull over internally but also externally share.

This is where much of the psychological, philosophical, and neuroscience debate still rages on. There is still plenty of room too for the debates of ethical, moral, theological, and physical. Objective, subjective, or existential.

For me, these are each fascinating discussions and debates. Some have been ebbing and flowing for 2,500 years. It is the cause of much of the distraction I now welcome every day. For it is this awareness of the perspectival, the conflicting, and the nuanced, that keeps me at my desk. Typing away.

Relate better to your distractions. Learn when to say “yes”, and when to say “no”. It is just part of the happenstance we may invite but not intend, in our human way.

Yule – 21st December

Welcoming the new light

As power is handed from old, onto the new Oak King. Or the ushering in a new season of light, as the pagans celebrate morning. Germanic tribes of old would celebrate the Hunt. Traditions that signify prudence towards a winter growing bold. Moving green into the house. Bundled grain hung from trees to feed animals in the cold. Traditions handing routine to ritual to protect all whilst looking toward the new year.

Stonehenge (via English Heritage Twitter feed)

Tradition and custom that comes from the predictable nature of change. One factor amidst many that enabled human projects to thrive year upon year. With planning around seasons giving opportunity to settle and specialise.

It’s easy to think this is how it’s always been. To consider traditions antiquated, mystical, and strange. But all indications now are these days, which have lasted 10,000 years, may be coming towards their long predicted end. As CO2 increases so does the weather range. Climates warming, are climates in change. This is the decade – now two years in – we can make reparations, or choose not to make amends.

What will future versions of us make of the traditions we have commandeered? Will tradition itself be a mystery? Coveted, regretted, no longer valid guides to be adhered. Mother Earth, once the silent predictable friend, less known and now more feared.

Good law project

More news here than in the news

Quick blog to flag this project. A project that seems to be filling a gap in our visibility, addressing behaviours seemingly of importance to us all, and addressing questions of trust. {here}

Get used to the stare

When not looking is the problem

When a child tells a fib it is called out. If the denial continues so does the cross-examination. A behaviour unbecoming is observed. An event becomes a doubt. A little trust temporarily lost.

Visibility | behaviour | trust

This is the basic premise of v | b | t. The less trust we have in someone’s behaviour, the more information we wish to see.

Anyone following my blogs will see this used regularly. It helps me evaluate situations, appropriateness of controls, and direct questions at all level of authority when the level of visibility sought is not in keeping with range of possible behaviour and underlying trust.

Grab any headline in the news and give it a go. It’s surprisingly insightful what the imbalances really show. And disappointingly predictable as to where the easiest points of failure repeatedly go.

About Me

In psychology we are required to look beneath the mask. This blog series is attempting to unmask some hidden parts of projects to engender a more collaborative way.

Find my professional mask here:

49 not out

Birthday meeting today was strictly business

18th December

It was all by the rules. My 49th birthday celebrated in the same manner as the year before. Let them eat cake. Because, as we all know, celebrating is a luxury event that is less important than saving lives.

Just think:

  • this time last year there was no party going on at No. 10 either.
  • this time tomorrow England may have bettered my 49 not out
  • this time next year England may be lifting the World Cup

Warning: some of these claims may be easier to believe than others…

Antibodies or wider immunity response?

A few quotes of hope if you score poorly on antibody tests. Documents links attached. Less likely to be relevant to the immunity-suppressed (like my wife) but some useful information here for others.

people with low levels of antibodies do still appear to be sufficiently protected, particularly against severe disease

Theconversation.com

There is wider immunity response:

Neutralising antibodies are an antibody that is responsible for defending cells from pathogens

[not to be confused with binding antibodies] …binding to a pathogen and alerting the immune system to its presence so white blood cells can be sent to destroy it.

News-medical.net

B-cells and T-cells…the adaptive immune system is slow and can take several days before two key cell types – B cells and T cells – are brought into play.

Once the adaptive immune system has vanquished the invader, a pool of long-lived memory T and B cells are made. These memory lymphocytes remain dormant until the next time they encounter the same pathogen. This time, though, they produce a much faster and stronger immune reaction.

Theconversation.com

We can hope that people with low levels of neutralising antibodies, even after a booster, will therefore be protected by these other immune defences remaining largely undiminished. This, though, is not a given, and we need further studies to measure real-life protection.

Theconversation.com

The article concludes, “levels of infection and disease attributable to omicron to allow rapid, rational public health decisions to be made. Research groups around the world are addressing all these areas and, in the near future, we can expect their reports to make the situation clearer.”

Qualification vs Experience PART 1

To own or apply knowledge

This is a LinkedIn favourite. Click-bait, guaranteed to provoke reaction. It is an ever-valid discussion to return to. In my consulting discussions the debate of demonstrating qualified staff or experience in role is equally divisive. But I have no doubt, experience counts.

PART 2 of this blog will perhaps revisit some past threads of discussion. For now however, I simply want to demonstrate what I think is really being asked. For me this is simply the difference between having and being.

I have blogged about having vs being before. Links will appear at the bottom of this post. Nothing here is new. Dave Snowden regularly speaks of people relying on form when it is process that counts. John Vervaeke runs regular YouTube dialogue presenting these differences as contributors to the meaning crisis.

From a knowledge perspective we can consider this as the difference between acquired and applied learning. In those terms it perhaps becomes self-evident what the difference between qualification and experience reflects. But I will elaborate for clarity.

This can be explained across the categories of visibility | behaviour | trust (v|b|t).

Qualifications v | b | t

visibility | b | t

High visibility. But only visibility of potential. Measurable as standardised evidence to demonstrate that a core knowledge has been achieved. Employers can advertise expectations in standardised language for all potential candidates to self-select against. It also presents benchmarks to aim toward. At the heart of the visibility is the question “is this particular example of human form able to contribute to our process?” In this regard the qualification presents an attribute – a speculative possibility.

v | behaviour | t

Them and us behaviour. This is having mode. Ownership. To have a degree certificate is to own a qualification. To be Associate or Fellow qualified in a professional capacity is to have achieved a demonstration of learning in your craft. This is to have. This is form. It is a material representation of attaining a learning from an institution. It is something that has been acquired. By the application of personal resources of time and money towards gaining something others have offered you as an exchange. The conclusion of which is a necessary demonstration that this acquisition has been successful. A confirmation is awarded based on a manner of pre-determined examination of your account or recall.

v | b | trust

Them and us, as credibility. Trust is inherently placed in the hands of a third-party. These are institutions of learning, academically or otherwise accredited. It thereby increases distance between candidate and employer; prospective service provider and customer. At scale this is organisational accreditation or licence to operate. But such certifications are also an enabler of the defensive decision-maker. Lowering the necessary skill-base of the assessor; reducing decision parameters; optimising short-lists. This trust is assumed. It is therefore fragile, rigid to the framework it reflects, standardised, and potentially subject to abuse.

Experience v | b | t

visibility | b | t

High visibility. Measurable in years, or reputation, or demonstrable by tangible success. Success measurable by metrics of application not acquisition.

v | behaviour | t

Applied know-how is able to be demonstrated. Learning whilst doing and understanding of contextual application in action and deeds. Contextually relevant is therefore more detailed in explanation and demonstration. It can command more respect simply because it is the being part of the process, not simply representing the potential to be.

v | b | trust

A closer approximation of fit to role is possible. It requires a greater ability to share a trust. A trust can be built based upon shared understanding of process. Abstraction by both parties (e.g. employer and employee) who can better empathise with the other, having better modelling in mind of what the process they share as intentions, requires of the other.

A practical example of having or owning knowledge vs applying it

I conclude with a further example of the limited visibility that owned knowledge represents. This is day 643 of lockdown in Casa Beardall. Undoubtedly now my most intense era of knowledge acquisition. One MSc completed, and another underway. Owned knowledge by qualification. But my owned knowledge is accumulating by another metric – by the volume of literature I have acquired. This last 12 months, the calendar year of 2021, I have spent over £1,000 on books. I have accounted for them all. They are listed in the table below. I can claim to have read them all. I do claim to have read most. But all you can seek as validation is visibility e.g., evidence that I physically own them.

Some of these books have been heavy reading. Some almost impenetrable (Kant or more recently Heidegger). Some of the books are just a guide to others. The point is who is to know if I have read them, let alone understood them. But even if I sit an exam to demonstrate an understanding of them, it has no reflection on whether I can apply them to anything meaningful to you or anything worldly at all.

A book seems to me the perfect metaphor as a simplification of this debate. Anyone can own a book. Have this knowledge to hand. It is a literal form of knowledge. But to apply knowledge is to not have it to hand. It is to have it abstractly available in mind. And thereby find means to apply it to something new.

In the zoom age these displays are everywhere. Bookshelves strategically located behind camera shots. Mine included. The academic class more guilty than most. Other than perhaps politicians.

We can display all, but in the end it is application that counts. And experience is the easiest representation of that.

I will conclude the crassness with the following table. Hubris on show.

Having or Being | Form or Process | Acquired or Applied?

A list of books purchased in 2021. A gratuitous display. That demonstrates more of my commitment to charities vs publishers, than it does to how the content may be applied.

£paidTitleRef#
£1,172.01Total 
£803.70Subtotal from Oxfam 
£36.84The goalamazon
£29.99Historical Sociology and World Historyo51****
£27.07What is ancient philosophy?amazon
£24.99Language and Social Relationso50****
£21.95Fool’s Goldamazon
£21.38Becoming humanamazon
£20.00Jungian psychoanalysis: Working in the Spirit of Carl Jungo38****
£20.00Conjectures and Refutations by Karl Poppero51****
£20.00William James and the transatlantic conversationo44****
£19.99Social Psychology — 8th Editiono65****
£19.99Psychology and Alchemyo38****
£19.99History of Western Philosophy – Bertrand Russello51****
£19.99what causes human behaviour – stars, selves or contingencies?o61****
£19.33Essays of Francis Baconamazon
£16.48Karl Jaspers : The origin and goal of historyamazon
£15.99Kants Critique of Practical Reasono46****
£15.00Representing and Interveningo51****
£15.00Short History Of The Communist Party Of The Soviet Uniono44****
£15.00ETHIC of Benedict de Spinoza: Demonstrated in Geometrical Ordero44****
£14.99Principles of Brain Dynamics Global State Interactionso38****
£14.99Summa Theologica – Volume 17: Psychology of Human Actso33****
£14.99Existentialism and Humanismo33****
£14.99Leibniz: Nature and Freedomo51****
£14.99The Psychology of Politicso61****
£14.99The human use of human beingso61****
£14.99The Philosophy of David Humeo45****
£14.99The Freud Jung Letterso50****
£14.99Kant’s Critique of pure reason; translated by Norman Kemp Smitho45****
£14.99Will Hutton – Them and Us – Signed First Editiono44****
£14.99Newman on the Psychology of Faith in the Individual [1928]o44****
£14.99An Introduction to Cognitive Behaviour Therapy: Second Editiono44****
£14.99Joseph Campell’s selected letters 1927-1987amazon
£14.50Josepeh Campbell’s hero with a thousand facesamazon
£14.02Joseph Campbell’s pathways to blissamazon
£13.99Being and timeo44****
£13.66Your Leadership Legacy : becoming the leader you were meant to beamazon
£13.62Tales from two sides of the brainamazon
£12.99Megaprojects and Risk: An Anatomy of Ambitiono46****
£12.991177 BCE : the year civisation collapsedamazon
£12.95Explaining the Braino44****
£12.15Bandit Capitalism : Carillionamazon
£12.00Complex/Archetype/Symbol in the Psychology of C.G. Jungo33****
£11.99Imitatio Christio46****
£11.98The goal of philosophyamazon
£11.94Flowamazon
£11.63The conciousness instinctamazon
£10.99Freedom and beliefo38****
£10.99The Essential James Hillman: A blue fireo44****
£10.00The Problems of Philosophyo33****
£10.00The Self and Its Brain: An Argument for Interactionismo51****
£10.00Statistics for psychologyo44****
£10.00Vygotsky’s Psychologyo44****
£9.99Analyzing Social Science Datao65****
£9.99Ego & Archetypeo38****
£9.99Coleridge’s Works – Aids to Reflection – published in 1890o51****
£8.99Buddhismwithout belief : a contemporary guide to awakeningamazon
£8.96Applying AI to Project Managementamazon
£8.75How the Project Management Office can use AI to imporve the bottom lineamazon
£8.44Gods in Everyman : a new psychology of man’s lives and lovesamazon
£8.15Risk Savvyamazon
£8.00The structure of scientific revolutionso46****
£8.00Routledge philosophy guidebook to Kant and the Critique of pure reasono44****
£7.99The Story of Civilization. Rousseau and Revolution 10. The Protestant Northo46****
£7.99Chomsky’s Reflection on Languageo46****
£7.99The Conscious Mind In Search of a Fundamental Theoryo38****
£7.99The Poetical Works of Shelleyo45****
£7.99The desert fathers :sayings of the early christian monksamazon
£7.78Who’s in Charge?amazon
£7.50Mind and cosmoso51****
£7.49The Vision of Judgment and Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage Cantos III & IVo51****
£7.49Existential Analysis 11.2,12.1 & 13.1o50****
£7.19The Human Side of Managing Technological Innovationo46****
£7.01Mindfulnessamazon
£7.00Time – Rhythm and Reposeo38****
£7.00The House at Pooh Cornero33****
£7.00Radical prioritieso44****
£7.00Mapping The Mindo44****
£6.99Linkedo65****
£6.99Foundations of Euclidean and Non-Euclidean Geometryo46****
£6.99The Neurotic Personality of Our Timeo46****
£6.99An Essay concerning Human Understandingo45****
£6.99Early Christian writing : the apostellic fathersamazon
£6.71Will Durant’s The Story of Philosophyamazon
£5.99The Shakespeare Classics: The Taming Of A Shrewo33****
£5.99Critique of the Power of Judgment (2008)o51****
£5.97Critical chainamazon
£5.00Mapping the Mindo51****
£4.99Social Psychology: A Study of Human Interaction (1965)o65****
£4.99Two treatises of governmento46****
£4.99Rousseau’s Political Writingso45****
£4.99An enquiry concerning human understandingo45****
£4.99Freedom Evolves, Daniel C. Dennett, Penguin Paperbacko44****
£4.99Workplace counsellingo44****
£4.84Plato : The Republicamazon
£4.79Aquinaso46****
£3.99Understanding the Self-Ego Relationship in Clinical Practiceo51****
£3.99Mind Watching: Why We Behave the Way We Doo61****
£3.99The Language Instinct: The New Science of Language and the Mindo45****
£3.99The village effecto44****
£3.00Oscar Wildeo45****
£2.99Real Confidenceo44****
£2.99The emerald tablet of Hermesamazon
£2.49The Science of Passionate Interests: … Tarde’s Economic Anthropologyo51****
£2.49The measure of all thingso51****

About Me

In psychology we are required to look beneath the mask. This blog series is attempting to unmask some hidden parts of projects to engender a more collaborative way.

Find my professional mask here:

No early release

No antibodies detected

My immuno-suppressed wife gets to stay home some more – as therefore do I. In summary, vaccination is not assurance of immunity. And casa Beardall remains a lockdown zone – day 642

We can confirm that COVID-19 specific Antibodies against SARS-COV-2 – WERE NOT DETECTED.
The sample linked to C-602 was recorded as being NEGATIVE.
REF: ************
A negative result means that no antibodies were detected which specifically bind to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (original variant)

Email we received today

The news we had hoped not to receive. But news we had prepared ourselves for. This was after a third full vaccination. One month ago. Note we can only test for antibodies (not T-Cells).

1 in 10 people are estimated to be have no positive response!!!

The Omicron world moves on. Boosters seem more important than ever. If you have any trust in science to be reported factually then you should read the disclaimer that was offered with our news. Because this is reporting normal response – meaning you.

Here are reasons we were offered for no positive antibody response (which I think need to be updated for third dose and booster)

  • It can occur if sampled too soon after a vaccine is given. (Sample no earlier than 2 weeks*, optimally >3 weeks sometimes longer).
  • If a response to a vaccine is very poor.
  • Only one vaccine was given, (NB An additional dose can significantly increase the outcome).
  • The recipient is over 65.
  • The patient is immunosuppressed.
  • The patient had an underlying medical condition.

The email goes on to advise that not everyone produces spike antibodies in response to a vaccine or infection. The key statement though, I highlight in quotations below:

We know from efficacy studies conducted by the companies that manufacture the vaccines, that the vaccine will not be successful for around 1 in 10 people who receive both doses of the vaccine. Immunosuppressed individuals are usually excluded from efficacy data, as well as other vulnerable groups.

Test lab email information

The email concludes with a suggesting to retest regularly to confirm status. Which seems sound business advice when charging per test.

v | b | t

Get vaccinated. Get boosted. Don’t get complacent.

I think these observations are obvious but it is easy enough to consider your environment and make your own assessment of risk.

visibility | b | t

Be aware. Vaccination is lower risk, not risk free.

v | behaviour | t

Be vigilant and cautious. You have control of your own space, but have in mind the rest. Be aware of the basics. Be aware of those less aware, less considerate, or belligerently defiant. Mask wearing is the easiest means to determine attitude.

v | b | trust

Be responsible for your own actions and safety. Use visibility and behaviour to warrant trust afforded everyone else.

About Me

In psychology we are required to look beneath the mask. This blog series is attempting to unmask some hidden parts of projects to engender a more collaborative way.

Find my professional mask here:

100 posts

Time, cost, or quality

Existence before essence. With over one hundred blogs offered I’m revisiting some basic principles of priority. The natural emergence of my blog topics seems to be me a key part of my process. I still have much to say. Much to read. Much to do. My research will carry me through.

But my personal intention to blog daily is now reaching its natural point of peak. I wish to retain the flow. But I also journal. I work. I research. I prepare for MSc exams.

From here-on-in it is daily blogging, perhaps. More correctly, it is affording as much time and as appropriate an amount of opportunity cost directed towards the deliberate attention to maintain quality of output. Quality, time and cost. Those seem to me the correct iron-law inspired priorities to guide my hand.

That’s my project musing for this evening. I return now to an existential crisis. A crisis of perspective for which Martin Heidegger and Jean-Paul Satre maintain. There’s a project angle here I am yet to land within this very different philosophical discourse. All the time I need – the luxury that projects are universally denied – now my ally and with it more possibility to understand.

—-//—-

About Me

In psychology we are required to look beneath the mask. This blog series is attempting to unmask some hidden parts of projects to engender a more collaborative way.

Find my professional mask here: