Near an honesty box, in which people placed coffee fund contributions, researchers at Newcastle University in the UK alternately displayed images of eyes and of flowers. Each image was displayed for a week at a time. During all the weeks in which eyes were displayed, bigger contributions were made than during the weeks when flowers were displayed. Over the ten weeks of the study, contributions during the ‘eyes weeks’ were almost three times higher than those made during the ‘flowers weeks.’ It was suggested that ‘the evolved psychology of cooperation is highly sensitive to subtle cues of being watched,’ and that the findings may have implications for how to provide effective nudges toward socially beneficial outcomes.
School assignments have typically required that students work alone. This emphasis on individual productivity reflected an opinion that independence is a necessary factor for success. Having the ability to take care of oneself without depending on others was considered a requirement for everyone. Consequently, teachers in the past less often arranged group work or encouraged students to acquire teamwork skills. However, since the new millennium, businesses have experienced more global competition that requires improved productivity. This situation has led employers to insist that newcomers to the labor market provide evidence of traditional independence but also interdependence shown through teamwork skills. The challenge for educators is to ensure individual competence in basic skills while adding learning opportunities that can enable students to also perform well in teams.
31. Creativity is a skill we usually consider uniquely human. For all of human history, we have been the most creative beings on Earth. Birds can make their nests, ants can make their hills, but no other species on Earth comes close to the level of creativity we humans display. However, just in the last decade we have acquired the ability to do amazing things with computers, like developing robots. With the artificial intelligence boom of the 2010s, computers can now recognize faces, translate languages, take calls for you, write poems, and beat players at the world’s most complicated board game, to name a few things. All of a sudden, we must face the possibility that our ability to be creative is not unrivaled.
33. The mind is essentially a survival machine. Attack and defense against other minds, gathering, storing, and analyzing information―this is what it is good at, but it is not at all creative. All true artists create from a place of nomind, from inner stillness. Even great scientists have reported that their creative breakthroughs came at a time of mental quietude. The surprising result of a nationwide inquiry among America’s most famous mathematicians, including Einstein, to find out their working methods, was that thinking “plays only a subordinate part in the brief, decisive phase of the creative act itself.” So I would say that the simple reason why the majority of scientists are not creative is not because they don’t know how to think, but because they don’t know how to stop thinking.
In 1824, Peru won its freedom from Spain. Soon after, Simón Bolívar, the general who had led the liberating forces, called a meeting to write the first version of the constitution for the new country.
After the meeting, the people wanted to do something special for Bolívar to show their appreciation for all he had done for them, so they offered him a gift of one million pesos, a very large amount of money in those days.
Bolívar accepted the gift and then asked, “How many slaves are there in Peru?” He was told there were about three thousand. “And how much does a slave sell for?” he wanted to know. “About 350 pesos for a man,” was the answer.
“Then,” said Bolívar, “I’ll add whatever is necessary to this million pesos you have given me and I will buy all the slaves in Peru and set them free. It makes no sense to free a nation, unless all its citizens enjoy freedom as well.”
The next time you’re out under a clear, dark sky, look up. If you’ve picked a good spot for stargazing, you’ll see a sky full of stars, shining and twinkling like thousands of brilliant jewels.
But this amazing sight of stars can also be confusing. Try and point out a single star to someone. Chances are, that person will have a hard time knowing exactly which star you’re looking at.
It might be easier if you describe patterns of stars. You could say something like, “See that big triangle of bright stars there?” Or, “Do you see those five stars that look like a big letter W?”
When you do that, you’re doing exactly what we all do when we look at the stars. We look for patterns, not just so that we can point something out to someone else, but also because that’s what we humans have always done.
Whenever you say what you can’t do, say what you can do. This ends a sentence on a positive note and has a much lower tendency to cause someone to challenge it. Consider this situation―a colleague comes up to you and asks you to look over some figures with them before a meeting they are having tomorrow. You simply say, ‘No, I can’t deal with this now.’ This may then lead to them insisting how important your input is, increasing the pressure on you to give in. Instead of that, say to them, ‘I can’t deal with that now but what I can do is I can ask Brian to give you a hand and he should be able to explain them.’ Or, ‘I can’t deal with that now but I can find you in about half an hour when I have finished.’ Either of these types of responses are better than ending it with a negative.
What really works to motivate people to achieve their goals? In one study, researchers looked at how people respond to life challenges including getting a job, taking an exam, or undergoing surgery. For each of these conditions, the researchers also measured how much these participants fantasized about positive outcomes and how much they actually expected a positive outcome. What’s the difference really between fantasy and expectation? While fantasy involves imagining an idealized future, expectation is actually based on a person’s past experiences. So what did the researchers find? The results revealed that those who had engaged in fantasizing about the desired future did worse in all three conditions. Those who had more positive expectations for success did better in the following weeks, months, and years. These individuals were more likely to have found jobs, passed their exams, or successfully recovered from their surgery.
Positive expectations are more effective than fantasizing about a desired future, and they are likely to increase your chances of success in achieving goals.