Releasing genius from lockdown
Jason Padgett was a futon salesman whose self-described lifestyle was “very shallow,” consisting of girl chasing, partying, drinking, hangover, repeat. But everything changed for Jason the night he was mugged outside a karaoke bar and struck on the back of the head. The resulting concussion cross-wired his brain, mixing up his senses and changing the way he looked at the world; for example, water flowing out of a drain looked like a bunch of little tangent lines. Jason began drawing the world as he saw it, believing his drawings “held the key to the universe.” His newfound interest in the beauty and magic of the world around him led Jason to study mathematics where his comprehension of complex concepts is so impressive that he has been called a genius. We're not suggesting that you ask someone to whack you on the back of your head in the hope that it will turn you into a savant: this week's 5-Minute Recharge is about freeing the genius within all of us. Let's get started! ONE GENIUS QUOTE “Don't think that you have to accept things in the world. If there is something that bothers you, think of ways to make it better.” – 12-year-old Lydia Denton won a $20,000 prize for designing an alarm to prevent hot car deaths. She's using her prize money for product development.
Rehan Staton collected garbage, and now he's headed to Harvard Law School. It was his fellow sanitation workers who helped him see his genius: “I had to go to the 'bottom' of the social hierarchy -- that's to say formerly incarcerated sanitation workers -- in order to be uplifted.” THREE GENIUS IDEAS #1 EINSTEIN'S SPINDLES It may surprise you to learn that Einstein's brain was skinnier than average, weighing only 1,230 grams (the average human brain weighs 1,400 grams) but he made the most of every gram. One of Einstein's cornerstone habits was to get 10 hours of sleep each night. The average American gets just over six hours. Could this sleep surplus account for Einstein's exceptional intelligence? Researchers have discovered that the longer we sleep the more “spindle events” we have: spindles are bursts of fast brain activity, electrical energy that fires deep inside the brain. Those who have more spindle events are said to possess more fluid intelligence–the ability to solve new problems, use logic in new situations, and identify patterns. Einstein had extraordinary problem-solving ability, so if you're searching for a solution to a challenge you're facing, our genius advice is to sleep on it. You can also draw on the wisdom of Thomas Edison who suggested that you pose a question to yourself just before bedtime... “Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious.” – Thomas Edison #2 A DOMANI Milton Glaser, the creative genius behind I ❤️ NY who's been called the Michael Jordan of design, passed away recently at the age of 91. Glaser worked until the end, remaining curious, inventive and experimental. In The 5-Minute Recharge, we shine a spotlight on the power of having a purpose in life, an ikigai--the Japanese word meaning “a reason to get up in the morning” that's been linked to longevity. Milton Glaser would end each work day saying, “A domani. Tomorrow, we begin again” acknowledging the promise of a new day in which his work might transcend the professional realm, spark cultural change, and become art. At the time of his death, Glaser was working on a graphical treatment of the word “together”--he wanted us to think about how during the pandemic we're all related and need each other. The key to design, he said, was affection, and the only thing that makes life meaningful is your relationship with others. “Merely to see the person in front of you is as close as you'll ever get to loving somebody because it means you've understood and accepted what you see,” Glaser said. Genius words to live by. “Love is the extremely hard realization that something other than oneself is real.” – Iris Murdoch (Milton Glaser kept this quote on the wall of his design studio) #3 TIME FOR A DEEP RESET Milton Glaser didn't have much use for technology. He said the cell phone turned people into objects--Glaser preferred face-to-face communication. Georgetown computer science professor and our favourite digital minimalist Cal Newport advises us to put down our phones so that we can connect with others and do the kind of deep work that can allow our unique genius to emerge. The pandemic, according to Newport, is giving us an opportunity for a deep reset. His genius advice to us is to: 1. For a month, greatly reduce your news and social media consumption (say 15 minutes in the morning and a half hour at night) 2. Read hard things and listen to hard things to recondition your brain to think deeply 3. Start talking to real people again in the real world. Steps 1-3 are the foundation for step 4 which is to spend time alone in reflection to try to make sense of your jumbled thoughts and your emotions so that you can plot the way forward and answer some of the big questions about your work and life. “A lot of people are feeling that call [to reset] and it's not easy to do. It takes this type of preparation; it takes this type of practice and exploration, but I think it's absolutely worth it and it's absolutely the time to do it, and if it sounds interesting you should start those steps tomorrow.” – Cal Newport, from The Growth Equation Podcast *********************************** THE FAST FIVE 1. Rituals Keep These Athletes Grounded. They Can Help Parents, Too.- The New York Times (Rituals help put our emotions in what NBA basketball player Kevin Love calls “airplane mode”.) 2.The Buddha’s Four-Part Strategy for “Ultimate Happiness” | Sally Armstrong- Ten Percent Happier Podcast (68 minutes) (“My strongest memory is the shock that I could actually stop and look at my own mind and have some choices about how I acted and what came out of my mouth.” - Sally Armstrong) 3. Why your ‘weak-tie’ friendships may mean more than you think - BBC Worklife (Weak-tie friendships are valuable sources of information, job opportunities...and happiness.) 4. Working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic? Get up, sitting is terrible - Alex Hutchinson, The Globe and Mail (All it takes is about 20 seconds of activity to wake up your body.) 5. ‘They’re buying bikes like toilet paper’ — pandemic leads to a bicycle boom, shortage - Associated Press (Lynne was thrilled that a photo of her new old-school bike got 34 LinkedIn likes...see bottom of newsletter for pic) *********************************** YOUR 5-MINUTE RECHARGE CHALLENGE THE NOT-TO-DO LIST “I think what makes athletes so incredible is what they're not willing to do, say, eat, consume, watch.” – Trevor Moawad This week’s 5-Minute Recharge challenge comes from the world of sports psychology, and the work of Trevor Moawad featured in this recent TED Talk from Seattle Seahawks' quarterback Russell Wilson. In his book It Takes What It Takes, Moawad talks about hard choices, and how relatively few paths will get you where you want to go. No matter where you are, there are behaviours that, if you eliminate them, will set you on a better path. Take a few minutes and simply ask yourself: what five things can you NOT do that will make your life better. 1. I will not... 2. I will not... 3. I will not... 4. I will not... 5. I will not... “Thinking that you have infinite choices is idiotic. There are winning behaviours and losing behaviours.” ― Trevor Moawad