What perspective does

When we experience pain and learn to soak up the lessons from that pain, we accumulate perspective.

Perspective is an interesting force. It doesn’t help us solve problems – we rely on our intellect for that. What it does instead is act as an amplitude reducer.

When we experience a profound low, perspective reminds us that reality isn’t as bad as we think it is. It reminds us that we’ve been through pain before and have emerged better, smarter, and stronger.

Similarly, when we experience a high, perspective reminds us that such highs don’t last. It summons a touch of paranoia by bringing to mind the inevitable fact that there’s likely some pain around the corner.

Perspective, thus, brings equanimity with it. That equanimity, in turn, enables us to focus on consistently approach every day with the intent of approaching people and work with extraordinary care.

In the short run, it is hard to tell if a good day is really a good day. So, all we can do is keep plugging away and keep faith in the fact that things work out in the long run.

And, perspective is a powerful ally in helping us do that.

Personal relationships and economic outcomes

The “Our World in Data” blog had an interesting post on the importance of personal relationships on economic outcomes. They worked off a study that analyzed the impact of the fall of the Berlin Wall to the growth in incomes across Germany. Below is an excerpt.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 there was growth in incomes across Germany as a whole; but the interesting finding from Burchardi and Hassan is that income growth for households in West Germany who had ties to at least one relative in the East was much higher – six percentage points higher – than that of comparable households without such ties.

Burchardi and Hassan argue that West German households that had ties to East Germany had a comparative advantage in seizing the new economic opportunities in the East. Having personal relationships with East Germans gave them access to valuable economic information – information regarding local demand conditions, and about the quality of East German assets that were offered to investors.

These gains from social connections actually added up at the regional level. West German regions that had a higher concentration of households with social ties to the East, enjoyed substantially higher growth in incomes in the early 1990s. A one standard deviation rise in the share of households with social ties to East Germany in 1989 was associated with a 4.6 percentage point rise in income per capita over six years.

The other interesting stat was a study from the Pew Research center that looked at how Americans found jobs in 2015.

Two things stood out – ~80% of Americans used online resources and information in 2015. I wonder if that number has gone up to 90% in the 4 years since.

And, second, 60%-70% of Americans mentioned connections in various ways – close friends or family, professional or work connections, and acquaintances. While this finding isn’t at odds with the use of internet tools thanks to the presence of social media, it speaks to the importance of networks in our ability to better our economic standing.

As someone who has been a beneficiary of these very networks, I find myself both grateful for the impact it has had on me and thoughtful about all the work that lies ahead to make these networks more accessible for those that really need it.

If only we had more time/money/resources

“If only we had more time/money/resources” is a natural go-to refrain from time to time.

Of course, it turns out that the better thing to do is to replace it with the question – “But, what am I doing with the time/money/resources I have at hand?”

It is a better and more important question for two reasons. Creativity shows up in the presence of constraints. And, more importantly, if we can’t get the best out of the resources we have, why should we be trusted with more?

Working from home – what my friends think I do vs. what I actually do

A few years ago, there used to be a great set of memes that spoke to the differences between perception and reality. For example, here’s what the meme for “working from home” looked like.

There were a collection of similar ones (many of which really hit the spot) that all served to highlight a simple idea – few things are as glamorous as they look from the outside.

It is a powerful lesson and one most of us would do well to remember from time to time.

Learning and teaching

The person who learns most in a thoughtfully designed class is the teacher.

The act of thoughtfully designing the curriculum and synthesizing what we know for practical application makes teaching things one of the fastest ways to learn.

So, one way to check in on investments in our learning curve is to periodically ask ourselves – are we taking time out of our schedule to attempt to teach what we want to learn?