Saturday, December 24, 2011

Can You Tell When You Fall Asleep?

...or can you tell when you wake up? To me, consciousness has always been an intriguing matter. How can it be that sleep is such an effective time-out? What happens to my conscious mind, or unconscious mind, for that matter? I believe my interest has served me well. Let me share a tiny bit of how.

Can you tell when you fall asleep? The way I define "falling asleep" is the moment when I move from conscious to unconscious. How would you define it?

Here's what I do to find out when sleep hits in. While falling asleep I often listen to conference talks or some inspirational recorded training. The next morning I believe I'm able to tell eXactly when I "lost consciousness" simply by listening to the recording again or by reading through its text. Unequivocally, I easily remember the last thing I consciously heard. To me it's just a fun exercise.

Can You Tell When You Wake Up?
Talking with other people, I find that waking up differs greatly from person to person. Here's how "waking up" works in general...

In reality we may "wake up" many times during the night, i.e. our consciousness kind of "comes and goes" due to REM sleep stages. Watch this clip to see a simplified illustration of how REM sleep works.

Problem Solving During REM Sleep
Scientific studies seem to indicate that we're highly creative during REM sleep. This is my experience exactly. I frequently retire at night with an unresolved problem or challenging task waking up with a solution in the morning.

At first this happened "accidentally". The past twenty years it's become a conscious effort. How? Well, before going to sleep I define the problem or task I want to solve. I may even write it down. Then, while falling asleep, I try to explore and deeply think it through. During REM sleep (for me usually somewhere between 4 and 5 or 5 and 6 in the morning) my mind will come up with creative suggestions.

Self Programming
There are many ways in which we can put our amazing brain to work for us. It is believed that our unconscious mind contains 80 million times more information than our conscious mind, suggesting that the unconscious represents a much greater reservoir to solutions.

One way to tap into the powers of the unconscious is through "self programming". This Christmas season I will do another self programing project. What's that? It's something I picked up in 1992. Quite simply, it's where you make a simple recording of active words stating who and what you want to be as if you've already made the changes expressed. Such a recording can effectively be used as a tool while listening both consciously and unconsciously.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Are BI Alumni Trends As Expected?

What trends can we spot as the BI Alumni group continues to grow? Are these trends in line with what you'd expect?

This week the Norwegian Business School's Alumni group at LinkedIn will grow beyond 7,000 alumnus. Last week we had another 63 alumnus join. The most we've ever had is 143 registrations in one week, i.e. Oct 2008. The growth rate has been slow but steady.

An average of appx 2,000 alumnus per year joining the BI Alumni group

As the number of alumnus is growing it's interesting to view some of the statistics and possible trends. Of the 7,000 former students (with a few exceptions) 648 are in Information Technology and Services. 637 are in Marketing and Advertising. These two industries are each 9% of the total group. Other dominant industries are, as shown below, respectively Financial Services (7%), Management Consulting (7%), Oil & Energy (5%) and Human Resources (4%).

Industry distribution of Norwegian Business School alumnus.

65% of all current and former students, including registered staff are living in Oslo. The second most popular location for BI alumnus is Stavanger, but still way behind with less than 5%.

Always of interest is the type of role group members have in business. As of now, it appears the majority are in senior positions, closely followed by a managerial role.

Current seniority / roles of BI Alumni students.

Unfortunately, since BI Alumni by far is the largest Norwegian student alumni group at LinkedIn, there is no other group to compare with. As other Alumni groups grow in size and number, future students should be able to see whether or not the Norwegian Business School can help them boost their careers the way they aspire to. It should be an interesting process to witness as it unfolds.

How to Discover Your Values

How do we discover values and deeply held belief systems? Why is it important to discover values? Because what we truly believe affects everything we do. Our behavior patterns change when we change our beliefs by discovering values.

Do you ever find that the same kind of conflict with another person keeps reoccuring? Does the same argument tend to surface on a regular basis?

Have you ever thought about why such is the case?

There's probably more than one reason why a conflict remains unsolved.

Let me share one principle based way you can solve a conflict once and for all, and then move on in the relationship. The secret lies in discussing the core issues; the underlying subjective values.

Moving Away From the Core - Fighting Meaningless Details
When two people are quarreling, they tend to fight about everything but the core problem. (Typically, arguments end up arguing about how we argue.) Here's an example:

"You're always late", she says. "And you're always so impatient. You have no empathy for other people", he responds. "Well, why can't you get organized so we can be on time and keep our commitment", she continues...

The first rule we break is not listening. Instead we agressively list every possible argument to support our own views. As a result the conversation branches outwards away from the core. We end up fighting over meaningless details and frustration increases. The relationship decays.

Moving Toward the Core - Discovering Important Details
Instead of fighting your ground, adopt wiser behavior. Listen and restate. Ask questions to better understand, and especially ask WHY? He might ask her: "I really want to understand, why is it so important for you to be on time?" She might ask him: "I really want to understand, why is time sometimes less important than other things?"

Once we're really listening we can objectively try to find the subjective need that's driving the way the other person thinks, acts and speaks. As a result the conversation goes deeper toward the core of the matter. We end up exploring important details, discover deeply held beliefs and gain a greater appreciation for the uniqueness we each bring with us. The relationship grows.

Behavior Improves When Values Are Defined
The essence of what we're looking for are values. Why? Because values govern our thinking, our actions and our words. Once the values are on the table (and it helps to write them down), we begin to truly understand one another. We become empowered to change and influence each others' views - for real. Continuing our example:

  • He may understand that she values friendships by showing respect for their time and keeping promises.
  • She may understand that he values their relationship by putting each other first, regardless of when they're behind schedule.

By sharing these needs, by recognizing the value they have and their validity, he and she, over time, will grow to appreciate the importance of both aspects. When values are shared conflict evaporates.

Three Ways to Discover Values
Thus, knowing how to discover values is critical. We need to discover our own values and the values of other people to truly "know ourselves" and others. How do we discover values? How do we uncover deeply held belief systems?

Discovering values takes time and dedication. In my experience, mapping out values is best done as part of every-day life:

(1) Scarcity
The first of three ways to discover values is any situation in which you find that there's scarcity. It could be limited resources like money or food. It could be when you're in a hurry and out of time.

When feelings get tense, and feelings are a direct reflection of values and unmet needs, there's an opportunity to discover what people are really about.

(2) Reactions
The second way in which you may discover values is when a person is challenged by something that is bigger or different from what they believe or might expect.

(3) Risk
The third way in which you may discover values is when asked to take risk. Sometimes this might be a helpful scenario to purposefully induce a value oriented conversation: "Would you risk your life for..?" If the answer is yes, ask why and begin your journey to a fruitful discussion.

Mapping out and discovering values is the best way to build a relationship and prevent future conflict.