Sunday, January 31, 2010

What Let's Reflect Is All About

Tip to Change Your Life

"Change your thoughts. The thoughts, images and words you replay in your mind everyday are directly related to your happiness and achievements. What the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve. Replace negative thoughts with a positive affirmation. Expect success."
~Success Magazine~

Welcome to LetsReflect.com. We're a global social networking community centered on the idea of "Self-Actualization"...the desire to reach your Full Potential!

We come here to collect our thoughts, to set goals, to state the things we're grateful for, to list our favorite quotes, to document our success, and much more.

We will all make significant gains, and at times, take a few steps back along this journey. But we're all in this together. Everyone's welcome and no one's left behind. We come here seeking Support, Advice, Encouragement, and Inspiration. We realize that we're part of something bigger here; a Movement...and that together we can accomplish great things! So stand up...lift your arms victoriously! Today marks the beginning of your new life.

So what's the Secret? How do I reach my Full Potential?

It's simple! All you have to do is commit to these 7 things. They're the foundation for reaching your Full Potential!

#1. Reflect on your life.

The first step is committing to 20-30 minutes of quiet Reflection everyday. You don't have to sit still, close your eyes, and meditate. But you do have to get away from all the distractions in your life such as the television, cell phones, email, radio, family, friends, coworkers, school mates, etc. They're constantly clouding your thoughts and influencing your decisions.

So take a walk, ride a bike, turn the radio off while commuting to work, sit on your back porch, lie in the grass, go to bed a little early. Whatever works for you.

Now, open up your mind and just Think, Analyze, Consider, Ponder, Contemplate, Imagine, Visualize, and Dream. Think about your past, your present, and your future. Ask yourself questions like...What am I capable of? What are my strengths? Where do I want to be in 5 years, 10 years, 100 years? And so on...

During this time of Reflection you will come across great Realizations and Epiphanies. You will experience a new level of Understanding, Insight, Consciousness, and Awareness. The goal of this entire process is to capture these thoughts and preserve them on your LetsReflect profile. Compile your list and read it over and over again. It will always be there to keep you on track and heading in the right direction.

So get lost in thought...It will change your life!

"It's time to start living the life you've imagined" ~Henry James~

"Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions." ~Albert Einstein~

"At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want." ~Lao Tzu~

#2. Become an Optimist.

This is key. Every negative thought that you replay your mind is like an anchor holding you back. Liberate yourself from the negativity. Inside every setback lies an opportunity! Always find the positive in every situation.

"You can't direct the wind, but you can adjust your sail" ~unknown~

"What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise." ~Oscar Wilde~

"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." ~Thomas Edison~

#3. Set a Goal.

Goals give your life direction and purpose. Without them you're just drifting through existence. Do something Bold! Set a lofty goal that stretches you outside your comfort zone.

"A goal is a dream with a deadline" ~Napoleon Hill~

"The more you dream, the farther you get." ~Michael Phelps~

"If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes." ~Andrew Carnegie~

"Long-range goals keep you from being frustrated by short-term failures." ~James Cash Penney~

#4. Define who your role models are.

They can be in the flesh, on TV, or even audio books. Model yourself after them. Learn from them. If you don't, you'll pick up bad habits from all the wrong people.

"People never improve unless they look to some standard or example higher and better than themselves." ~Tyrone Edwards~

"The single most important influence in the life of a person is another person ... who is worthy of emulation." ~Paul Shafer~

#5. Be Grateful!

Be grateful for your opportunities. Be grateful for right now! Being grateful invites even better things to come into your life. So what are you grateful for?

"What if you gave someone a gift, and they neglected to thank you for it - would you be likely to give them another? Life is the same way. In order to attract more of the blessings that life has to offer, you must truly appreciate what you already have." ~Ralph Marston~

#6. Become a life long learner.

You don't have to be in school to learn new things. Commit to learning something new everyday. Have an open mind. Become a sponge. Grow!

"All the information you need to succeed already exist; the only problem is you're not exposing yourself to it." ~Jim Rohn~

"There is no wealth like knowledge, no poverty like ignorance." ~unknown~

#7. Embrace change!

It's impossible to reach your full potential if you're not willing to change. Become dynamic, adaptive, evolving! Realize that change is good...change is exciting!

"One does not discover new lands without losing sight of the shore." ~unknown~

"An important guideline for effective individual growth is open-mindedness. A willingness and eagerness to consider new information, new viewpoints, new ideas, and new possibilities is essential." ~F. David~

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." ~Mark Twain~

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

How Group Think Rules What We Like

Clive Thompson

Illustration: Kelly Blair

Illustration: Kelly Blair

Can you persuade someone to like a product by telling them that it’s popular? Do teenagers like Taylor Swift because she’s good or because everyone else they know likes her — so hey, she must be good, right?

Sociologist Robert Merton dubbed this tendency to base what we think we think on what other people are doing the “self-fulfilling prophecy” in 1949, and since then social scientists have tried to measure how powerful it actually is. Now, based on some studies conducted with the help of the Internet, it seems clear that we’re often just sheep.

A few years ago, Duncan Watts — a network-theory pioneer and scientist at Yahoo and Columbia University — wanted to test the strength of self-fulfilling prophecies in pop culture. The problem, he realized, was that to really explore the phenomenon you’d have to rewind history. For example, I could argue that Madonna is famous because she’s uniquely talented. You could counterargue that she’s just lucky: She got picked up by the right label at the right time, and enough people glommed onto her. But what if you could replay history with different conditions? If Madonna becomes famous each time, then her success is due to raw talent. If not, it’s just luck.

You can’t rewind history, of course. But Watts devised a clever way to simulate the effect. He and his collaborator, Matthew Salganik, created a music-downloading Web site. They uploaded 48 songs by unknown bands and got people to log in to the site, listen to the songs, then rate and download them. Users could see one another’s rankings, and they were influenced in roughly the same way self-fulfilling prophecies are supposed to work. That meant some tunes could become hits — and others duds — partly because of social pressure.

Watts and Salganik ran the experiment over and over — each time with a new group of people — until they’d gotten 12,900 participants. In essence, they rewound history each time: Every new group started fresh, listened to the same 48 songs, and made up their collective mind.

The result? Different songs were hits with different groups. A few songs frequently — but not always — hovered near the top, and a few at the bottom. But for most of the tracks, success — or failure — seemed random.

Or as Watts concluded, about half of a song’s movement could be attributed to intrinsic appeal. The rest was luck. Rerun history, it seems, and Madonna could be working as a waitress.

So what about advertising, marketing, and hucksterism? Can you browbeat people into thinking something is popular when it isn’t?

To figure that out, Watts and Salganik ran a deliciously devious experiment. They took the song ratings of one group and inverted them so bottom-ranked music was now at the top. Then they gave these rankings to a fresh set of listeners. In essence, they lied to the new group: They told them that songs that weren’t popular with previous listeners actually were.

The new listeners dutifully took their social cues from the bogus popularity rankings — they ranked the fake-high ones high, even downloading them, while snubbing the fake-low ones. Apparently, flat-out lying works.

But only sometimes. Eventually, some of the previously top-ranked songs began to creep back up, and previously bottom-ranked ones slid down. And people in the upside-down world downloaded fewer songs overall.

Maybe the participants sensed that the ratings somehow weren’t accurate and started to wonder about the entire system. If so, this strikes a small but happy blow for quality. It also offers a cautionary tale to marketers: If you lie about the merits of your product, you might suppress demand across your entire sector.

It will be exciting to see how this “multiple worlds” paradigm gets used to test self-fulfilling prophesies in other areas — like financial markets. Learning how to avoid a bank run or currency collapse could come in handy these days.

Email clive@clivethompson.net.