Art is creating something new, that might not work, to change people for the better. What change do you seek to make?
It’s not art if you know it’s going to work. That’s management. That’s a manual. That’s people at Daifun, China who paint copies of Picassos.
It’s not art if there’s no intent. When you do it because you feel like it, that’s a hobby. A hobby can produce artefacts that look like art. And it could even make you rich and famous, that’s luck. That’s not art.
As you can tell, the way I define art have nothing at all to do with painting or sculpture.
A chef who wants to change how people look at sandwiches, by playing with flavour, pricing and business model. They are making art. That’s could be David Chang, Danny Meyers or your 15 year-old son.
The scientists who banded together during the pandemic, found the vaccine and gave it for free. That’s art.
A receptionist who gives you the inside scoop on the person you were meeting. So you feel prepared and relaxed before you walk in. She’s making art.
An entrepreneur, a sever or a barber. They can all be artists.
Martin Lindstrom shared an incredible story of a simple trick that reduce hundreds of emails a day and creates an upward spiral of change.
Here’s the story.
“So we work for one of the largest banks in the world, and I had this workshop with around 800 executives in the meeting. And one guy said to me, “I’m so frustrated working as a banker.”
I said, “What frustrates you the most?”
He said, “What frustrates me the most is emails. I get 800 emails every day.”
I said, “Would you like to change that?”
And he said, “Absolutely. I’d like to get rid of it.”
So I said, “Are you aware there’s a direct correlation between the number of emails you send and the number of emails you receive? So here’s my idea: Why don’t we get rid of the CC button and the reply all button in Outlook?”
And of course, the folks in compliance said, “Oh, you can’t do it. No, we will always see the CCs,” and all this stuff.
I said, “Frankly, all you guys in this room, how many of you actually ever read those CCs?” And not a single hand was raised.
I’m not kidding. Not a single hand. So we did it for three months–ninety days. After ninety days, the number of emails had dropped from 800 to 362 emails per person on average. This is a true number, and it has zero complaints. And that became almost the first piece of evidence within the organization, that change is possible.”
What wasn’t shared in the story is the idea of the availability bias (What you see is all there is). That we are really not aware of the information that we don’t have. And that it matters enormously. For this bank, it is this little hack.
Our beliefs, choices and habits are made by options we are aware of. And because we think we know the answer. We stop looking.
Even if we know of the bias, it’s a struggle trading attention (which is in scarce demand) for a slim chance of making things better.
If you’re a change maker, it is the enrolment process. What do you need to do to help people see that’s it’s worth the effort to change their mind.
If you’re an agent of change, it is to know you are operating under imperfect information and perhaps the next idea might change your life. If you’re open to it.
In this experiment, I attempt to stop over-eating.
Why: After a 20 hour intermittent fast, I’m really hungry, over-order and try to finish everything. This caused me to eat more than needed. Will mediation after meal keep me at the best shape of my life? What is the minimum effective dose?
Summary: Success. Meditated for 3min after a meal stops me from over-eating. I get to keep fit, keep calm and keep my money.
Experiment log [July 21]
First day: Fasted for 24h. I feel energise and hungry. Brought steak. Hang out with friends and chat. Did not mediate. Did not overeat. Success.
2nd day: Feel composed and calm. Ate fish, salad and leek veggies while listening to a podcast. Didn’t finish the fish. Meditate for 2min via the Oura app. Feel it was a bit short. Attended a zoom meeting right after.
Did not overeat. Success.
72.0kg → 71.3kg
3rd day: Ate a big meal of fried Ashton while listening to podcast. feel full before mediation. Did 3 mins mediation in the cafe. Felt sleepy. And don’t want to eat more. Success.
4th day: Eat while listening to podcast. Felt full after. Mediate for 3mins. Feel tired. Doze off a couple of times. Did not eat more.
5th day: Feel hungry before a meal. After meal, feel full but not bloated. Meditate for 3min. Feel my heart racing. Deep breathing during meditation calms me down. Didn’t want to eat more.
6th day: Cheat day. No meditation.
7th day: Feel full before meditation. Mediate for 3mins. Relaxing. Didn’t want to eat more. Success.
8th day: Feel stress. Left office to take a walk to City Square, 20mins. Feel hungry before a meal. Still feel hungry after the meal. Meditate for 3mins. Feel full after. Success.
9th day: Feel hungry when buying food at Farrer park. Almost wanted to buy the fried chicken. Brought a Stuff’d salad instead and chatted with a friend on the way there and back. Feel full after the meal. Meditate for 3 mins. Didn’t want to eat more. Success.
10th day: Feel hungry right before a meal. First meal. So full after the meal. Meditate for 3mins. Didn’t want to eat further. Success.
11th day: Brought food from Sim Lim after meeting Yue Hong. Feel hungry. Ate. Feel full. Meditate for 3mins. Didn’t feel like eating more. Success.
12th day: Mildly full after meal. Meditate for 3mins. Didn’t feel like I need to eat more after. Success.
You know what’s delicious when we taste it. But can you explain why?
It’s certainly not the ingredients (there are many terrible dishes with the same ingredients).
Nor it is the chef.
There are chefs who create amazing dishes, mostly by intuition. And if you are good at asking questions and deciphering answers, sure, you’ll learn something.
I’m not sure if any of the chef can teach as elegantly as Samin Nosrat.
A great chef might not be a great teacher. Intuition is not pedagogy. Similarly, a Pulitzer writer, a Nobel scientist or an olympian. Teaching is a whole different set of skills. It’s enrollment, empathy, flexibility and communication.