James Clear Newsletter

“The most wisdom per word of any newsletter on the web.”

3-2-1: The measure of success, courage, and knowing what you want


Happy 3-2-1 Thursday,

Here are 3 ideas, 2 quotes, and 1 question to consider this week…

3 Ideas From Me


“Double down on your best relationship.

It’s the investment with the highest return.”

(Share this on Twitter)​


“People who jump from project to project are always dividing their effort, and producing high quality work becomes difficult without intense effort.

Meanwhile, your average work day can be leisurely, yet also productive, if you return to the same project each day.

Do one thing well and watch it compound.”


“Life is easier when you know what you want—but most people don’t take the time to figure out what they want.

It’s not that we are completely lost, but our efforts are often slightly misdirected. People will work for years and ultimately achieve a lifestyle that isn’t quite what they were hoping for—often, simply, because they never clearly defined what they wanted.

An hour of thinking can save you a decade of work.”

2 Quotes From Others


Novelist Toni Morrison on the measure of success:

“For me, success is not a public thing. It’s a private thing. It’s when you have fewer and fewer regrets.”

Source: Interview with The Guardian


Novelist and art theorist André Malraux on courage:

“Often the difference between a successful person and a failure is not one’s better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on one’s ideas, to take a calculated risk—and to act.”

Source: Don’t Forget to Sing in the Life Boats

1 Question For You

Was this a productive week? What can you do today to guarantee the answer is yes?

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3-2-1: The measure of success, courage, and knowing what you want

Until next week,

James Clear
Author of the multi-million-copy bestseller, Atomic Habits
Creator of the 
Habit Journal

Did you know…

Did you know…

… that today is Fast and Furry-ous Day? Today is the anniversary of the first Road Runner cartoon’s debut in 1949. What does that mean? It means Wiley E Coyote and the Road Runner share the same birthday! 🙂


Today’s Inspirational Quote:

“All of us are born with a set of instinctive fears – of falling, of the dark, of lobsters, of falling on lobsters in the dark, or speaking before a Rotary Club, and of the words, Some Assembly Required.”

— Dave Barry


Immanent IM-ən-əntPart of speech: adjectiveOrigin: Latin, mid 16th century
1Existing or operating within; inherent.2(Of God) permanently pervading and sustaining the universe.
Examples of Immanent in a sentence “The role of government is immanent in the Constitution.” “Teri’s research paper discussed whether altruism is an immanent trait or a learned one.”
ImmanentIM-ən-əntPart of speech: adjectiveOrigin: Latin, mid 16th century
1Existing or operating within; inherent.2(Of God) permanently pervading and sustaining the universe.
Examples of Immanent in a sentence “The role of government is immanent in the Constitution.” “Teri’s research paper discussed whether altruism is an immanent trait or a learned one.”

10 Quotes That Reveal the Remarkable Mind of Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany, in 1879. At the time, the Einstein family owned an electrical firm that manufactured dynamos and electrical meters. His father wanted Albert to pursue a career in electrical engineering, but young Albert had a rebellious side and never much enjoyed formal learning. He preferred to teach himself, whether it was science or philosophy or music. And that worked out fine for Einstein, who went on to become one of the greatest physicists of all time. ‌‌

In 1905, a year now known as his annus mirabilis (miracle year), Einstein published four revolutionary scientific papers while still working at the patent office in Bern, Switzerland. Among them he outlined the theory of the photoelectric effect, introduced special relativity, and described the principle of the mass-energy equivalence, the latter now associated with the world’s most famous equation: E=mc2. He was later awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, in 1921. ‌‌

Beyond his scientific genius, Albert Einstein was a complex and colorful figure. He loved music almost as much as physics, his love life was active (and not always honorable), and his political views attracted the attention of the FBI. He also didn’t shy away from talking and writing about a wide range of subjects, leaving behind a trove of quotes that give us a fascinating insight into this unique character.


Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations. All this is put in your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it on to your children.

Einstein was an above-average student in many areas, but he especially excelled at mathematics. At 12 years old, he was given a book of geometry that he later called his “sacred little geometry book.” During a single summer, he used the book to teach himself algebra, calculus, and geometry. At 13, he became fascinated with philosophy. He was particularly interested in the philosopher Immanuel Kant and his book Critique of Pure Reason.


If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music… I get most joy in life out of music.

Einstein began playing the violin at the age of five or six, but gave up lessons in his early teens because he found them boring and mechanical. Instead, he began teaching himself. At 13, he discovered the violin sonatas of Mozart and fell in love with them. This changed the way he practiced and studied music, through passion rather than systematic learning. He later said, in regards to learning the violin, that “love is a better teacher than a sense of duty.” Einstein went on to become an accomplished musician.


I am enough of the artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.

For Einstein, imagination and curiosity were fundamental to understanding and intelligence. In a letter to his biographer Carl Seelig, Einstein famously wrote, “I have no special talent, but am only passionately curious.”


I must love someone, otherwise it is a miserable existence. And that someone is you.

Einstein married twice, first to Mileva Marić from 1903 to 1919, during which time they had a daughter and two sons. While still married to Marić, he fell in love with his cousin Elsa Löwenthal. He divorced Marić, and married Löwenthal in 1919. They were together until her death in 1936, and it was to her that Einstein wrote the above quote. Einstein’s extramarital affairs were well known, in part because he didn’t do much to hide them. But he was aware of his weaknesses. He once wrote in a letter to the son of a friend who died, “What I admire in your father is that, for his whole life, he stayed with only one woman. This is a project in which I grossly failed, twice.”


Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the Old One. I, at any rate, am convinced that He does not throw dice.

These words, written by Einstein in a letter to German physicist Max Born, are the source of the famous but much misunderstood — and misquoted — “God does not play dice with the universe.” They are a prime example of how people have tried to pin down Einstein’s religious beliefs, even when he was talking metaphorically about quantum mechanics. Raised Jewish, Einstein was religious as a boy but later called himself an agnostic and said he didn’t believe in an afterlife. Perhaps most telling, however, was a letter he wrote in 1954 (a year before his death), in which he revealed, “The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.”


I have never had a particularly favorable opinion of the Germans (morally and politically speaking), but I must confess that the degree of their brutality and cowardice came as something of a surprise to me.

In 1933, Einstein went into exile, abandoning his homeland of Germany following the rise of the Nazis under Adolf Hitler. Einstein became increasingly outspoken about the regime, rallying against Hitler and, to some extent, putting aside his deeply held pacifism in the face of the growing threat. “I should not, in the present circumstances, refuse military service,” he said at the time. “Rather I should enter such service cheerfully in the belief that I would thereby be helping to save European civilization.”


What strikes a visitor is the joyous, positive attitude to life… The American is friendly, self-confident, optimistic, and without envy.

Einstein renounced his German citizenship after the rise of the Nazis. He moved to the United States and became an American citizen in 1940. Einstein had a positive outlook regarding his adopted home, but considered racism America’s “worst disease,” further saying that “Being a Jew myself, perhaps I can understand and empathize with how Black people feel as victims of discrimination.”


Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.

Einstein wasn’t shy about expressing his political views. He was an outspoken critic of racism and nationalism, a pacifist, and critical of capitalism and in favor of socialism. When Einstein moved to America, it didn’t take long before he was on the radar of J. Edgar Hoover, who called the physicist “an extreme radical.” By the time of Einstein’s death, the FBI file on him was 1,427 pages long.


I made one great mistake in my life — when I signed the letter to President Roosevelt recommending that atom bombs be made. But there was some justification — the danger that the Germans would make them.

Einstein was a lifelong pacifist, but the rise of Nazi Germany tested his beliefs. He later said that in some circumstances, “force was appropriate — namely, in the face of an enemy unconditionally bent on destroying me and my people.” Still, he forever regretted his involvement in the development of the atom bomb.


I want to go when I want. It is tasteless to prolong life artificially. I have done my share; it is time to go. I will do it elegantly.

Einstein died on April 18, 1955, aged 76, from an abdominal aortic aneurysm. The previous day, he had been working on a speech to honor Israel’s seventh anniversary. He was taken to hospital but refused surgery, feeling that his time had come. ‌‌

20 Quotes From the Icons of Hollywood’s Golden Age

20 Quotes From the Icons of Hollywood’s Golden Age

Moviemaking in the Golden Age of Hollywood — the era from the 1920s to 1960s when the studio system controlled American film production — is remembered for its glitz and glamour. But the movie business was also cutthroat. The studios, and in particular the Big Five (Universal, Paramount, Warner Bros., Disney, and Columbia), owned everything from the scripts to the sets to the theaters — and infamously controlled the careers of its biggest stars, who were held to stringent standards and often told how to eat, what to wear, and even who to date.

In 1948, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to break up the monopoly of the Big Five, and in the 1960s, when television became a dominant medium, the Golden Age of film finally faded. We still have movie stars, of course, but none that shine so bright as the stars of the early 20th century.

Just about every movie star from those glitzy years has left some record of how they viewed themselves and their peers during those times. Some remained ever optimistic, while others turned to comedy to make sense of their unusual lives, but they all seemed to appreciate that they held a special place in the history of film and pop culture. Here, we’ve compiled 20 of our favorite one-liners from the icons of that time — sentiments of kindness, humor, and endurance that still ring true today.

Love yourself first, and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.
— Lucille Ball

I’m fortunate to be a coward, to have a low threshold of fear, because a hero couldn’t make a good suspense film.
— Alfred Hitchcock

Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.
— Judy Garland

Intentions often melt in the face of unexpected opportunity.
— Shirley Temple

Things are never so bad they can’t be made worse.
— Humphrey Bogart

Never confuse the size of your paycheck with the size of your talent.
— Marlon Brando

So much of life, it seems to me, is determined by pure randomness.
— Sidney Poitier

You don’t always win your battles, but it’s good to know you fought.
— Lauren Bacall

The problem with the people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they’re going to have some pretty annoying virtues.
— Elizabeth Taylor

Happiness is good health and a bad memory.
— Ingrid Bergman

A shot of brandy can save your life, but a bottle of brandy can kill you.
— Cary Grant

One nice thing about silence is that it can’t be repeated.
— Gary Cooper

Men who think deeply say little in ordinary conversations.
— Charlie Chaplin

You can tell more about a person by what he says about others than you can by what others say about him.
— Audrey Hepburn

There was more good acting at Hollywood parties than ever appeared on the screen.
— Bette Davis

Love is a fire. But whether it is going to warm your hearth or burn down your house, you can never tell.
— Joan Crawford

The best gift you can give yourself is the gift of possibility.
— Paul Newman

Beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes.
— Sophia Loren

You’ve achieved success in your field when you don’t know whether what you’re doing is work or play.
— Warren Beatty

5 Iron Age Tools and Innovations

New techniques helped make iron stronger—but there were also innovations in the use of gold,

Lockheed Martin Secures $2 Billion in Pentagon Contracts for F-35 Fighter Jet Program

Sept. 15, 2021

By Marin Wolf

Source The Dallas Morning News (TNS)

Living 25000 days. My experience.

I check BioRhythm Calculator App daily by habit. I was Happy to see I have lived till date 25000 days of this life. And I thanked God, my parents, my family, friends, Gurus.

I read bio-hythms in a book first some 20 years ago. Wanted to buy a German/Japanese Bio-rhythm watch but could not afford but when the Biorhythm App appeared on Google play, I am using it daily. The 4 Rhythms for some reason match me and the predictions of the day usually good.

I feel 25 years Young person. Reason: My wish was to have Years calculated in Metric system and Year should be 1000 days long. Getting the drift!

Seriously, I recall the 25th year – the year I began working in PSU – Madras Fertilizers Ltd as Marketing Extension Appentice after having done my nearly 3 year stint in a Nationalised bank Bank of India’s Village branch and living in a Hut.

By now, I had acquired a Yezdi and my company also gave me a Royal Enfield Bullet 350 for official use. Life was fun, it was hard, lots of travel, speeds that one could achieve on village roads and the single lane “High”ways!

I now spend lot of time reading as Second cataract surgery and later – I am able to Read clearly and concentrate in Spiritual readings I always wanted to do. There is of course, the WhataApp/ Google University and MOOC courses on UDEMY that I find very interesting learning.

A Guru once said to me, “When you will know, what you do not know and your curiosity creates a quest to find that knowledge, you will begin and like Gautam Buddha said – “Master will appear when the Pupil is ready” and you will find Gurus and Sadgurus in your life again. In my childhood and youth I was blessed by many but I did not pursue for whatever reasons. Later, I started learning what my Mentees needed from me. Now I learn for “Swantah Sukhay” for my own pleasure like Goswami Tulsidas ji said.

Sh. Eknathji Ranade – Founder of Vivekananda Kendra, Kanya Kumari selected me among first 5 Ajivan Non-Sanyasi-Workers but I was not allowed to go by mother as for a single parent/ with only child – she had expectations from me. Eknathji said to me that I have “Two great qualities – I have “Chitta Shuddhi – Purity of Heart” and I have a curiosity to learn and satiate my thirst by Reading, but he called it “Buddhi Vilaas” Or Indulging in luxury of mind” – he said, learn to Empty the cup – share knowledge with needy freely – it will create space to learn more and then it won’t be a luxury – it will be a Regular Need/ Need fulfillment and Parmaarth” – Helping others, helping needy those who can not afford this Gyan.”

Now of course, in Internet Age, everything is online and available to anyone.

So living 25000 days reminds me of Dr. Norman Vincent Peale “The Positive Thinking Guru” who said ” In life, things average out – good and bad days come in exactly equal proportion and life balances out” . I think it came true in my case.

I wish, I am still not indulging in luxury of mind but be able to help.

Everyone needs more of this one skill

Adaptability has helped employees thrive and grow during change. Here’s how to cultivate it quickly and at scale.

Brainpickings.org Newsletter

This is Brain Pickings midweek pick-me-up, drawn from my fifteen-year archive of ideas unblunted by time, resurfaced as timeless nourishment for heart, mind, and spirit. (If you don’t yet subscribe to the standard Sunday newsletter of new pieces published each week, you can sign up here — it’s free.) If you missed last week’s archival resurrection — Mary Shelley, writing 200 years ago about a 21st-century world savaged by a deadly pandemic, on what makes life worth living — you can catch up right here. If my labor of love enriches your life in any way, please consider supporting it with a donation – all these years, I have spent tens of thousands of hours, made many personal sacrifices, and invested tremendous resources in Brain Pickings, which remains free and ad-free and alive thanks to reader patronage. If you already donate: THANK YOU.

FROM THE ARCHIVE | The Osbick Bird: Edward Gorey’s Tender and Surprising Vintage Illustrated Allegory About the Meaning of True Love

Great loves, like great works of art, live at the crossing point of the improbable and the inevitable. That, at least, has been my experience, both as a scholar of history and as a private participant in the lives of the heart. Such loves come unbidden, without warning or presentiment, and that is their supreme insurance against the projectionist fantasy that so frequently disguises not-love — infatuation, obsession, jealousy, longing — as love. But when they do come, with all the delirium of the improbable, they enter the house of the heart as if they have always lived there, instantly at home; they enter like light bending at a certain angle to reveal, without fuss or fanfare, some corner of the universe for the very first time — but the corner has always been there, dusty and dim, and the light has always been ambient, unlensed and unbent into illumination. For great love, as the Nobel-winning Polish poet Wisława Szymborska observed in her splendid meditation on its mystery, is “never justified” but is rather “like the little tree that springs up in some inexplicable fashion on the side of a cliff: where are its roots, what does it feed on, what miracle produces those green leaves?”

That improbable and inexplicable miracle is what Edward Gorey (February 22, 1925–April 15, 2000) celebrates with his signature faux-terse tenderness and soulful oddness in the vintage gem The Osbick Bird (public library).

Written in 1969 — several years after Gorey created his now-iconic Gashlycrumb Tinies, but well before his work for PBS and his fantastical reimagining of Dracula made him a household name — it was originally published under Gorey’s own Fantod Press, whose author list included such venerated names as Ogdred Weary, Madame Groeda Weyrd, O. Müde, Mrs. Regera Dowdy, Raddory Gewe, Garrod Weedy, and the Oprah-like first-name-only Om — Gorey’s delightful menagerie of pseudonyms.

Edward Gorey by Richard Avedon (Richard Avedon Foundation)

This tiny treasure of a book, itself improbable and inevitable given its subject and its creator’s nature, lay dormant and forgotten for decades, until Pomegranate Press, heroic stewards of Gorey’s legacy, resurrected it twelve years after he became the posthumous author he had always lived as.

In spare lines and spare verses, Gorey tells the singsong story of the osbick bird — a creature of his wild and wondrous imagination — who alights one day to lonely, dignified Emblus Figby’s bowler hat, out of the blue, or rather, out of the sky-implying negative space of Gorey’s minimalist, consummately cross-hatched black-and-white worldscapes.

And then, just like that, Emblus Figby and the osbick bird commence a life together — as if life was always meant to be lived in this particular tandem; as if each of the two was written into being just to complete the other’s rhyme.

This charmingly eccentric shared life unspools in Gorey’s playful verses, evocative of Victorian nursery rhymes, and when the spool runs out, Gorey’s romantic realism takes over — the osbick bird flits out of the frame just like it had flitted into it, by that miraculous consonance of the improbable and the inevitable.

“There is grandeur in this view of life,” Darwin had written a century earlier in the final passage of On the Origin of Species — in the view that death is the very mechanism ensuring the unstoppable ongoingness of life, the fulcrum by which ever shifts into after. There is grandeur, too, in Gorey’s subversive ending. There is beauty and bravery in its counterpoint to our incomplete happily-ever-after cultural mythos and its deep-seated denial of death as an integral part of life, and therefore of love; beauty and bravery in the reminder that the measure of a great love — as of a great life — is not in the happy ending, for all endings followed to the ultimate finality are the same, but in all the happy durings.

Complement The Osbick Bird with Shell Silverstein’s tender line-drawn allegory for the simple secret of true love, then revisit Hannah Arendt on love and how to live with the fundamental fear of its loss and W.H. Auden on what it means to be the more loving one.

donating=lovingEach month, I spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars keeping Brain Pickings going. For a decade and a half, it has remained free and ad-free and alive thanks to patronage from readers. I have no staff, no interns, not even an assistant — a thoroughly one-woman labor of love that is also my life and my livelihood. If this labor makes your life more livable in any way, please consider aiding its sustenance with a donation. Your support makes all the difference.monthly donationYou can become a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a Brooklyn lunch. one-time donationOr you can become a Spontaneous Supporter with a one-time donation in any amount.Partial to Bitcoin? You can beam some bit-love my way: 197usDS6AsL9wDKxtGM6xaWjmR5ejgqem7


The Truelove: Poet and Philosopher David Whyte on Reaching Beyond Our Limiting Beliefs About What We Deserve

* * *

Hannah Arendt on Love and How to Live with the Fundamental Fear of Loss

* * *

Rilke on the Relationship Between Solitude, Love, Sex, and Creativity

* * *

Our Greatest Misconception About Love: Philosopher-Psychiatrist Esther Perel on Modern Loneliness as Ambiguous Loss and the Essential Elements of Healthy Relationships

How to enjoy coffee

Smooth like chocolate or fruity like a berry, coffee has as many tastes as wine or beer – you just need to know your beans

by Jessica Easto 

Did you know…

Did you know…

… that today is International Day of Democracy? In 2007, the UN passed a resolution that September 15 of each year would be observed as the International Day of Democracy. It’s easy to take freedoms for granted so please reflect on the history of democracy, thank those who influenced the development of our government, and look for ways to promote and protect our own democracy.


Today’s Inspirational Quote:

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

— C.S. Lewis


Eureka yoo-REE-kəPart of speech: exclamationOrigin: Greek, early 17th century
1A cry of joy or satisfaction when one finds or discovers something.2Marked by usually sudden triumphant discovery.
Examples of Eureka in a sentence “When Seth solved the complicated problem, he cried out “Eureka!”” “Maria had a eureka moment that made the rest of her day much easier.”

10 Criminal Groups That Were Founded With Good Intentions

Al Qaeda Versus ISIS

The Jihadi Power Struggle in the Taliban’s Afghanistan

Life Under the Taliban

A few weeks after militants took over Kabul and the country, Afghanistan has gone back to a past it didn’t miss.

The World Still Needs the UN

Building Global Governance From Scratch Is a Fool’s Errand


PrescientPRESH-əntPart of speech: adjectiveOrigin: Latin, early 17th century
1Having or showing knowledge of events before they take place:
Examples of Prescient in a sentence “The psychic gave a prescient warning of things to come.” “No one understood how prescient the press statement was until a few days later.”

via Listverse Newsletter

Top 10 Pandemics We Have Survived

by Jason Emmitt

fact checked by Jamie Frater

In today’s world the rise of transportation and exportation has opened the doors to numerous locations across the planet making our contact with other people more frequent than ever. It is easy to see how viral outbreaks might easily spread in such conditions, but what you might not realize is that global pandemics are not a new phenomenon. Below is a list of 10 pandemics throughout history that man has survived.


101968 Hong Kong Flu Pandemic

Forgotten pandemic: what’s changed since the Hong Kong flu?

In July of 1968 an odd case of influenza was reported in Hong Kong. It was an H3N2 strain, on offshoot of H2N2 and it moved quick. Within two weeks cases were found in Singapore and Vietnam, and within 3 months it had spread to Australia, India, Europe and the United States.

At .5% the mortality rate was relatively low but that didn’t stop this bug from doing some major damage. By the time it was finally under control over a million people had died including over 500,000 in Hong Kong alone, decimating nearly 15% of its population.

There were also numerous casualties in West Germany and Berlin where the numbers were so high corpses were being placed in subway tunnels.

Luckily the strain shared traits with the Asian Flu of 1957 which it is believed helped people develop antibodies which may have helped lower the number of casualties.

91956 Asian Flu

The Silent Invader (Westinghouse Broadcasting, 1957)

The Asian Flu pandemic also found its roots in China claiming over 2 million lives before it was done. A blend of Avian strains and first reported in Singapore in 1956, the virus managed to spread across China before finding its way to the coat of the US in 1957.

According to the World Health Organization nearly 70,000 people died in the United States alone and many more throughout the world as this bad boy ran its two-year course.

81889 Russian Coronavirus Pandemic

COVID-1889? Was the Russian “flu” a coronavirus? A better comparison to SARS than the 1918 flu.

The first reports of this Flu outbreak came from three locations. Turkestan, Northwestern Canada, and Greenland, in May 1889. Originally thought to be virus subtype H2N2, it was recently discovered to actually be the coronavirus subtype H3N8.

The outbreak managed to spread fast and far due to population growth and modern transportation methods that made it easier for the disease to get from location to location. Within 5 weeks the virus had reached its peak with over a million lives being lost.

The 1889 Influenza was considered the first real epidemic during the bacteriology age. Scientists have studied the outbreak patterns for years and much has been learned from its pathology.

7Antonine Plague of 165 AD

A History of Pandemics: Episode 2 – The Antonine Plague, 165-180 AD

When Roman soldiers returned home from Mesopotamia and the war with Parthia, they brought back more than just the spoils, they brought back a plague that killed nearly 5 million people before it had run its course.

Believed to be Smallpox or Measles this one ravaged the Roman army before moving on to parts of Egypt, Greece, Italy and Asia Minor. With their army laid waste the land was wide open to other attacks. Civil unrest grew and barbarians began invading. This outbreak is thought to have directly contributed to the fall of the Pax Romana era, a period when Rome was at the height of its power.

6Plague of Justinian 541-549 AD

The Justinian Plague: First Pandemic? // Procopius (541-542) // Byzantine Primary Source

Called the first known pandemic by some, the Plague Of Justinian, named after the Roman emperor in Constantinople, Justinian I , it was believed to have killed nearly half the population of Europe.

The virus was the first recorded outbreak of the bubonic plague and, over an 8 year span, it wreaked havoc across Roman Egypt, the Mediterranean Sea, the Arabian Peninsula and Northern Europe.

At its height it is estimated this plague killed nearly 5,000 people a day in the city of Constantinople. The virus continued to eb and flow in waves over the next decade and it is estimated that 25 to 100 million lives were lost before it was all over, although some argue those numbers are likely high. Still, the impact was felt across the Roman Empire countryside. Its social impact was also wide reaching as the effects on farmers lead to a demand in grain and an increase in prices. It also weakened the Byzantine Empire at what would have been a critical point, as Justinian’s armies were set to retake the western Mediterranean cost and all of Italy in an attempt to reunify the Eastern Roman Empire to the Western Roman Empire.

5Black Death of 1346

History of the Black Death – Full Documentary

One of the most famous plagues in history, The Black Death, ripped its way through Africa, Asia and Europe between 1346 and 1353. This run of the Bubonic Plague devastated the European landscape wiping out an estimated 50% of the population.

Spread by fleas it travelled across continents via rats that stowed away on merchant ships. The estimated death toll was between 80 to 200 million with bodied being burned or placed in mass graves.

With so many dead, it grew more difficult to find skilled labor. If there was an upside to the massive death toll it is that the demand for workers brought about better pay. It also lead to higher quality in food production and is been credited in contributing to advancements in technology.

Today it is believed that this particular strain has died off, no longer posing a threat to the population.

4Spanish Flu of 1918

Spanish Flu: a warning from history

Unlike the current Chinese coronavirus which we now know originated in China, contrary to the name it is not believed the Spanish Flu strain of influenza began in Spain. At the time the virus was making its way across the globe, Spain was considered a neutral nation and thus had no censorship of the press. With no real restrictions stories of the outbreak were published in earnest, and, since Spain was the one talking about the disease, they were falsely believed to be the origin of it.

When the pandemic began World War I was still in effect enhancing the effects of the spread on soldiers who were often in tight conditions and suffering from malnutrition. It is estimated that over 500 million people were infected, and the mortality rate was upwards of 10-20% causing nearly 25 million deaths within the first 6 months. The odd thing was that, unlike other strains of influenza, the Spanish Flu didn’t seem to just target the young and elderly, but also healthy young adults.

When it finally came to an end in 1920 this one had made its way over a third of the globe and had taken the lives of nearly 50 million people.

33rd Cholera Pandemic of 1852

The Pandemic the World Has Forgotten

There were 7 cholera pandemics in total and this was considered the worst. Lasting for 8 years this outbreak, similar to the first and second outbreaks, was believed to have originated in India then spreading to Europe, Asia, Africa and North America.

In London, the disease was eventually tracked, thanks to British Physician Johnathan Snow, to a contaminated water source in 1854, the same year the pandemic reached its apex in Great Britain bringing about the deaths of 23,000 people. Snow began mapping the reported cases and noticed a cluster of them centering around a water pump located in a single neighborhood. It is said that this revelation was the turning point that eventually helped get the spread under control.

Before its end the Cholera Pandemic of 1852 took the lives of over a million people.

26th Cholera Pandemic of 1910

10. Asiatic Cholera (II): Five Pandemics

Much like the aforementioned third pandemic, the Sixth Cholera Pandemic was also thought to have found its roots in India where over 800,000 people died, before spreading to the Middle East, North Africa, Russia and Eastern Europe.

Having learned from the past American health authorities got a jump on the outbreak. They moved fast, locating and isolating the infected to help prevent the spread. Only 11 recorded deaths took place in the United States and the overall death toll was low in comparison to previous outbreaks.

As facts on the spread of Cholera became more understood the threat of this deadly bacteria was largely reduced in the early 1920’s, although many parts of India are still effected by it today.

1HIV Pandemic of 1981

1985 “AIDS: An Incredible Epidemic” by San Francisco General Hospital

Accounts of the first known case of the HIV virus differ with some claiming it to have been in Norway in the late 60’s, and others saying the first known case was from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1976. Most scientists believe it was developed from a Chimpanzee virus that transferred to humans in West Africa in the 1920’s but the first case of the virus in the United States was reported in 1981.

Without understanding of what the virus was or how it was spread fear began to grow as it quickly became a global crisis claiming the lives of over 36 million people since its discovery.

There was no cure, and for years there was no real way to treat it, but in the 1990s new drugs and procedures were discovered and eventually ways of controlling the virus came into effect. Today there are approximately 35 million people living with HIV, with over 60% of those being in Sub-Saharan Africa. People have learned to manage it, and, with regular treatment, most are able to live normal, productive lives. In early 2020 it was reported that through state-of-the-art stem cell replacement programs two people have been cured, both considered in “long term” remission and showing no active signs of the virus.

Unfortunately, global pandemics have been a part of life throughout history, but we have seen that man has overcome and will do so again . . . with dedication, compassion, and intelligence we are not only able to survive but thrive as well.

Listverse Newsletter

Top 10 Recently Discovered Creepy Crawlies

by KMcGfact checked by Jamie Frater

Nature, or as I call it, the real world, is full of surprises. It keeps giving and taking as it pleases. Often it gives us beauty that can stun us to silence or move us to tears. Other times it reminds us of its multi-faceted essence and lets its darkness and horror shine through. This list is homage to nature’s darker side. Here are 10 recently discovered creatures that are as interesting as they are nightmare compelling. Sweet dreams.


10The Bright Orange Bat (Myotis nimbaensis)

Discovered 2018 in the Nimba Mountains, New Guinea, West Africa. It’s honestly more cute than creepy! It has bright orange fur and is likely already critically endangered due to human activity. As of right now, there is nothing published on its diet, behaviors, or habits. More research is needed for the newest, ultimate Halloween idol. Can you really find something more ideal?

They were discovered inhabiting adits-old mining tunnels. Most of these tunnels are in danger of collapse. So Bat Conservation International and SMFG (a local mining company) are working to construct reinforced tunnels in the area and preserve this ‘sky island’ for the orange bat and other bat species under threat from human expansion.

9Pine Rockland Trapdoor Spider (Ummidia richmond)

New ‘Pine Rockland Trapdoor Spider’ Discovered And Can Live For Decades

Discovered 2012 outside of the Miami Zoo, Miami, Florida USA. This terrifying spider is related to the tarantula, meaning it is also venomous. It burrows and builds a trap door from which it ambushes its prey. Are any spiders not scary? Thankfully it mainly eats mainly insects and small invertebrates. And while it can liquify their insides, it’s not very dangerous to humans.

Luckily they are smaller than their tarantula cousins. The males are roughly the size of a quarter and it is thought that the females are 2 to 3 times larger. It is also assumed that females can live up to 2 decades while the males live for about 7 years. The females kill the males after mating just like the lovely Black Widow. The males are believed to burrow for about 7 years before they come out to mate the first time. Can you blame them? They’re just doing what they can to prolong their lifespans!

8Giant centipede (Scolopendra alcyona)

A Fearsome or Friendly Giant? ft. Scolopendra Centipede

Discovered in 2021 in the Ruyku Islands, an archipelago near Japan and Taiwan. This is another giant venomous centipede. What makes this one more daunting is the amphibious nature of the creature; it is equally adept on land and in the water. Let’s hope they keep a shrimp diet and stay local.

It is only the 3rd amphibious species thus far discovered. It is also one of the largest species in its region at about about 20 cm long and 2 cm thick. It has also been 143 years since the last centipede was discovered in the area. And this one dove into the water to escape researchers. So it’s a venomous arthropod that predates equally well on land and in water. Nope! Won’t be visiting the Ruyku Archipelago in this life.

7King of the Cave (Cryptops spelorex)

Cryptops speleorex – Cienpies Amarillo

Discovered in 2020 in Movile Cave, Romania. The King is another centipede and terror fuel just because of the toxic environment from which it hails. The pitch black cave has very little air or oxygen and a high sulfur content among other toxic gases like carbon dioxide, methane, and ammonia and sounds quite hellish. Despite being only about 2 inches long, this many legged crawler is toxic just like its environment. They thrive among chemosynthetic bacteria, some spiders, arthropods, earthworms, leeches, and snails. Maybe we just seal up that cave and let them all be.

It sounds like they are all mutants from another planet with a different atmosphere, maybe Venus. It elicits images of bites melting flesh and an afflicted person having radiation poisoning. Anything surviving, thriving, and evolving in such a harsh environment has got to be born to kill, right?

6Ringed Caecilian (Siphonops annulatas)

Ringed Caecilian in the Yasuni 🐸🐍🌈🌎

While the animal itself was discovered almost 2 centuries ago, the recent discovery (2020) of it having oral venomous glands re-upped this creature’s fear factor. It’s an amphibian that looks the love child of a Black Mamba and an Earthworm with no discernible face. It just became the perfect image for every potential sci-fi creature in the future.

What makes them even more unnerving is their start in life. All of the babies simultaneously feast on the mother’s out layer of skin with 44 spoon-shaped teeth each. Then they rest for a few days until Mom grows another outer layer of skin for her offspring to feast upon like little, vampiric cannibals. Yup! Just about the creepiest creatures out there so far.

5Pig-Snouted Brittle Sea Star (Ophiojura exbodi)

Brittle Star Fish with 8 Arms

Discovered in a barrel in 2015, it was actually collected in 2011 in Banc Durand near New Caledonia in the South Pacific. Despite its comical sounding name, this thing is rather disturbing looking with 8 long, spindly arms that look like thousands of pig snouts snapped together. Its underside is covered with long jaws that are filled with bristly, thorny teeth. So it’s pretty much pure nightmare fuel… a nest of teeth with creepy arms.

It’s also been hiding deep in the ocean at almost 200 feet for a long time as a living fossil from the Jurassic period. More proof that things from dinosaur times are still hanging out. Maybe Chupacabra are velociraptors…

4Suzhen’s Krait (Bangarus suzhenae)

Krait Bungarus | Shorts | Biólogo Henrique

Discovered in 2001, but just named, it was found in Southwestern China and Northern Myanmar. It was just recently distinguished from other Kraits whom it mimicked with coloration. But this Krait is longer with a distinct number of black and white bands. So it was anonymous for a while and its very venomous and deadly. It also enters houses in search of food. It’s active at night and has wandered into beds, biting when it is startled. Just like in the movies…

Its name was derived from a Chinese goddess, Bai Su Zhen. in a famous Chinese folktale, Legend of White Snake. She was ironically the goddess of healing. Perhaps it was scientific sarcasm?

3Achlinus Zugorum

Ular Baru Berwarna Unik! Achalinus Zugorum dari Vietnam – TomoNews

This snake, discovered in 2020 in Ha Giang Province, Vietnam, hasn’t been given a fun surname yet. These snakes live mainly underground and have poor eyesight. They are either iridescent or dark in color appearing to morph from blue to green. It brings to mind the shiny, jewel-like scales depicted on Chinese dragons. They are commonly considered odd-scaled snakes because of unusual shape and small size of the scales and the skin exposed between them.

They’ve been difficult to study due to their subterranean nature. But they inspire the imagination to wonder to what else is hiding down there in the deep, dark ground. Ignorance really can be bliss.

2Salazar’s Pit Viper (Timeresus salazar)

Discovered in 2019 in the Western lowlands of Arunachal Pradesh, India. Yes, its name is borrowed from Salazar Slytherin of Harry Potter fame. They are pit vipers, so they are venomous. Luckily they stick to a diet of small mammals, lizards, amphibians, rodents, and birds. Perhaps they can teach us all Parseltongue and we can befriend all snakes.

These snakes are sexually dichromatic which means the males and females differ in color. While they are all green, only the males have the reddish orange stripe on the head and a yellow-orange stripe on the the body. This is brighter and more pronounced when they are juveniles.

1Mountain Fer-de-lance (Bothrops Monsignifier)

Discovered in 2020 in the Zongo Valley, Bolivia. This is a new Fer-de-lance discovered in the jungled mountains. As if the ones we already know about aren’t enough. Like their relatives, they have excellent camouflages and hang out on the forest floor. To sense their prey, they use heat sensing pits on their heads. They are extremely venomous, so watch your step and avoid walking through piled leaves unless you have a snake sense.

It is actually rather rare to discover new vipers. In the Americas, the average viper discovery is 1-2 per decade. So as scary as it is, it will hopefully be the last one we discover for a bit.

So those are 10 recent discoveries of critters or about critters that we didn’t know until now. The deeper we dig, the further we dive, and the longer we trek into the wilderness, the more we will discover. And even though it seems like we will discover scarier and deadlier things, we still appear to be the bigger threat through rapid expansion and constant consumption. A common thread in most of these newly found creatures is that they are probably already in decline as we crept in without knowing they were already there. So perhaps the creepiest beast out there walks on 2 legs, recklessly consumes, fears the unknown as much as it is attracted to it, and prefers conquering to understanding and peacefully co-existing.

Are You a Natural Leader?

Anna Papadopoulos


You’ve almost certainly heard the phrase “he/she is a natural leader” to describe someone — maybe even someone in your peer group or company. Being a natural leader often seems to have a kind of “know it when you see it” quality — and some believe that leaders are born, not made. But being a leader isn’t necessarily some binary quality that you’re either born with or you aren’t. But natural talent isn’t everything. There are qualities that define a natural leader, and there are skills you can learn to improve that leadership.

Characteristics of a Leader

“A leader leads,” as another saying goes. But leadership is a bit more sophisticated than that, and can mean different things to different people. Here are some of the most common characteristics of a natural leader:

  1. Daring and Different
    Probably the most defining quality of a leader is refusing to follow all the rules. Leading is, by definition, not following, and that means daring to do things as they haven’t been done before, trying new approaches, and “thinking outside the box.” Even (in fact, especially) if others find it unusual, frightening or even crazy.
  2. Has a Clear Vision
    A critical part of leadership is knowing where you’re leading people to. This means having a clear, bold vision of where you want things to go, and having a carefully crafted plan of how to get there. Knowing how you’re going to pursue and attain those lofty goals is at least as important as having those lofty goals in the first place.
  3. A Hard Worker
    A leader doesn’t just come up with an idea and sit back while others do the hard work for them. A crucial component of leadership is jumping in and being an integral part of the work. Most natural leaders are early risers who get as much done as they can in a day — then wake up the next morning and start all over again.
  4. Others Respect Your Opinion
    One can’t lead without having others who are willing to follow — and that means they have to respect your opinion and be ready to help take the steps you lay out. First of all, that means having an opinion worth respecting. Being able to delegate effectively means encouraging and enabling others to do their best. That means having good character and showing integrity and commitment in what you do.
  5. You Respect the Opinions of Others
    If you’re in a leadership position, it’s important to let others have their input and be part of the process. That is one of your biggest responsibilities as a good leader — not to do it alone, but to give the others the autonomy they need to do their best.
  6. Positive and Energetic
    No one follows a negative and pessimistic person. Natural leaders tend to brim with positive energy which, in turn, helps inspire and motivate others.
    But leadership, as we’ve said above, isn’t all natural. There are qualities you can cultivate and improve, even if you possess some of them already. So if you’re not a natural-born leader, how can you improve your leadership skills?

Improving Your Leadership Skills

  • Complete a leadership training program. There is a wealth of available training programs that can help take you to the next level, from niche online courses to online MBA programs that will give you all the tools you need to forge yourself into a leader.
  • Find a mentor. Experience and learning don’t just come from books and courses. Some personal guidance and hands-on experience could make a huge difference. Finding the right mentor can be invaluable in honing your talents.
  • Improve your interpersonal skills. To be fair, this is a great idea even if you aren’t in a leadership position. Good communications skills are a crucial part of working with others. You must be tactful, be able to relate to others, and put forward your ideas in a clear and constructive way.
  • Invest in continuous learning. Even the most natural leader isn’t born perfect. Environments and needs change, and a good leader must, by definition, change with them — ideally, being on the leading edge of that change, or even creating it in the first place! To that end, a good leader should always be reading, learning, and improving, looking for new ways to expand their way of thinking. This is true whether you’re trying to learn more in your career field, or just working on your soft skills.

Ultimately, leadership is a skill, even if it was picked up naturally without any formal training. It’s not a quality anyone is born with — it’s made through circumstances and experience, which means it can be honed, polished, and improved. You can learn your way into becoming a leadership figure… or, if you already are one, you can embrace training and practice and become great.

Track Latest News Live on CEOWORLD magazine and get news updates from the United States and around the world. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow CEOWORLD magazine on Twitter and Facebook. For media queries, please contact: info@ceoworld.biz

Changing the conversations that kill your culture

Deceptive messages can undermine your enterprise from within. Relabel and reframe them to develop positive narratives. See also “How Strategic Leaders Reframe Deceptive Messages.”

Are you stuck in a “logic box”?

Beware the trap of making a smart choice among flawed options.

Are you stuck in a “logic box”?

Beware the trap of making a smart choice among flawed options.

Many years ago, as a young business reporter at the New York Times, I learned about the pernicious concept of institutional imperative. The phrase was coined by Warren Buffett, who first wrote about it in his 1989 letter to shareholders, to help explain why organizations that are run by generally smart leaders often make misguided decisions. Though the term institutional imperative sounds like a good thing, Buffett characterized it as a sheeplike response to power and the status quo that can derail critical thinking.

“In business school,” the sage of Omaha wrote, “I was given no hint of the imperative’s existence and I did not intuitively understand it when I entered the business world. I thought then that decent, intelligent, and experienced managers would automatically make rational business decisions. But I learned over time that isn’t so. Instead, rationality frequently wilts when the institutional imperative comes into play.”

Two of Buffett’s examples: “Any business craving of the leader, however foolish, will be quickly supported by detailed rate-of-return and strategic studies prepared by his troops,” and “the behavior of peer companies, whether they are expanding, acquiring, setting executive compensation or whatever, will be mindlessly imitated.”

This powerful insight helped me understand the ways in which CEOs explained the rationale for deals that seemed puzzling in the moment, such as Time Warner’s merger with AOL in 2000. The US$350 billion deal, which was largely unwound ten years later, has been studied endlessly as one of the worst business transactions in history. But in the heat of the moment, once the leaders of each company had convinced themselves that the combination made sense, the institutional imperative kicked in to build unstoppable momentum and make the deal happen.

The trick, both in business and in personal life, is to always ask yourself when contemplating a big decision, ‘Am I trapped in a logic box?’

There is a ton of literature out there on all the various heuristics and cognitive biases that trip people up. But I always find it helpful to use a metaphor that is easy to visualize and remember, to simplify (but not oversimplify) a complex idea: the “logic box.”

The logic box is what you find yourself in when you think you are making analytically solid choices among various options but haven’t understood that the overall concept is misguided or flawed. There may be many defensible reasons that one possible choice is clearly better than the others. But the area in which you have chosen to operate is in the wrong box.

Over my career, I’ve been a part of teams that ended up making questionable decisions that seemed brilliant and entirely logical at the time. And I’ve wondered about countless products or marketing strategies that might have made perfect sense to the teams that developed them but turned out be duds or horribly off-key (like Pepsi’s ill-conceived 2017 ad showing model Kendall Jenner handing out cans of the soda at what appears to be a racial justice protest). One of the lessons we learned from the New Coke debacle is that it is possible to do a good job of executing a bad idea. (All of Coke’s internal studies showed that the taste was in fact better than the original Coke, but that didn’t matter.)

The point of the logic box is to help develop self-awareness, an essential skill of leadership that is becoming more important as we negotiate our VUCA—volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous—world. Leaders and their subordinates must always examine the basic premises of a key decision and interrogate its surface validity.

This came up in a recent conversation I had with Dambisa Moyo, a widely published economist who is a board member at Chevron and 3M. One of the most important qualities she looks for when assessing leaders is their ability to use different mental models for analyzing choices, an idea that she attributed to Buffett’s partner at Berkshire Hathaway, Charlie Munger.

“It’s this idea of road-testing their thinking using different paradigms,” she said. “So, if, say, an investment looks quite attractive from a financial perspective, it might look less attractive through a geopolitical or environmental lens. Given the world that we live in now, people who think about complex problems in a more versatile way have an advantage.”




With the passage of time, I have thought more about how the dynamics of institutional imperative can play out at a personal level, too. I now have enough years behind me to have had more than a few occasions when I was absolutely convinced of the rock-solid logic of a decision I had made, or was about to make, only to later wonder, “What on earth was I thinking?”

The list includes a book proposal sent to publishers, based on what I was sure was a breakthrough idea, that garnered zero interest. There was also the house that the family lived in for a dozen years that required far more work and upkeep than I had convinced myself it would when I first saw it. And there have been other real estate moves that my wife and I pursued (fortunately, we pulled back before closing the deals) that seemed like brilliant ideas in the moment but that later left us scratching our heads, asking again, “What were we thinking?”

The trick, both in business and in personal life, is to always ask yourself when contemplating a big decision, “Am I trapped in a logic box?” I find that reminder helps me pull up to a higher altitude, to be certain that I’m not simply making smart choices among misguided options.

What about you? Are you stuck in any logic boxes?

Adam Bryant
Adam Bryant is a managing director of The ExCo Group, a senior-leadership development firm. He is the author, with Kevin Sharer, of The CEO Test: Master the Challenges That Make or Break All Leaders.


40 Under 40

It’s been a monumental year of change in everything from the way we work and travel to how we buy groceries and invest our savings. (Bitcoin, anyone?) This year’s 40 under 40 list highlights the rising entrepreneurs, influencers, creators, and executives that have shaped the global pandemic experience—and are paving the way for what comes next.

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Future proof: Solving the ‘adaptability paradox’ for the long term

hutdowns and supply-chain hacks. Hybrid work, remote shopping, settling up via blockchain. The past year has made it abundantly clear, if it wasn’t already, that a volatile and complex world is serving up change at an accelerating pace.


Individuals and organizations need to be ready. That doesn’t mean reacting to the next challenge that comes our way but rather being prepared to meet it when it arrives. There’s one tool above all others that can help leaders do that: adaptability.

Adaptability is the ability to learn flexibly and efficiently and to apply that knowledge across situations. It’s not so much a skill as a meta-skill—learning how to learn and being conscious of when to put that learner’s mind into action. By becoming aware of and open to change now, we can maintain control over uncertainty before pressures build to the point where altering course is much more difficult, or even futile.

Our research shows that adaptability is the critical success factor during periods of transformation and systemic change. It allows us to be faster and better at learning, and it orients us toward the opportunities ahead, not just the challenges.

Yet the same conditions that make adapting so important can also trigger fear, making us default to familiar patterns or whatever solutions worked the last time. We call this the “adaptability paradox”: when we most need to learn and change, we stick with what we know, often in a way that stifles learning and innovation. Even positive events, such as receiving a promotion or beginning a new workstream, can turn negative unless we can maintain a learning mindset while under pressure.

But people often don’t put in the hard work of learning and mastering something new unless there is compelling motivation to do so. When that motivation arrives, it’s often accompanied by pressure—to avert failure, for instance, or to attain a high-stakes reward or incentive.1

To avoid this trap, leaders must work on transforming their relationship with change and uncertainty by building adaptability as an evergreen skill that benefits themselves and their organizations at a deeper level.

This is not a natural skill—even for the most successful among us—but it can be nurtured. And the rewards are worth the effort: companies with strong cultures that emphasize adaptability turn in better financial performance than entities that lack those attributes, research shows.2

In this article, we delve into five steps that leaders can take to become more adaptable, including emphasizing both well-being and purpose, practicing an adaptive mindset, building deeper human connections, and making it safe to learn.

Why building an adaptability muscle is so important

The power of resilience has been amply demonstrated during the COVID-19 crisis. Although resilience and adaptability are linked, they are different in important ways. Resilience often entails responding well to an external event, while adaptability moves us from enduring a challenge to thriving beyond it. We don’t just “bounce back” from difficult situations—we “bounce forward” into new realms, learning to be more adaptable as our circumstances evolve and change.

Learning agility,3 emotional flexibility, and openness to experience are all part of a multidimensional understanding of adaptability.4 They help us maintain deliberate calm under pressure and display curiosity amid change. They allow us to respond in ways that are the opposite of a knee-jerk reaction by making thoughtful choices.

Studies have shown that adaptability is also linked to important psychological skills, ranging from coping to personal growth. In the workplace,5 higher levels of adaptability are associated with greater levels of learning ability and better performance, confidence, and creative output.6 Adaptability is also crucial for psychological and physical well-being and is linked to higher levels of social support and overall life satisfaction.7

Now that we’ve enumerated the benefits of adaptability, let’s go through the five ways leaders can invest in it to prepare for a fast-paced and uncertain future.

Step 1: Practice well-being as a foundational skill

From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, executives have made sure to check on employees’ health. But that may have been putting the cart before the horse: research shows that leaders experienced anxiety and burnout symptoms at unprecedented rates8 as they focused on others without restoring their own energy levels.

Harvard Business Review–sponsored survey conducted in the fall of 2020 gathered feedback from more than 1,500 respondents from 46 countries9 —the majority of whom were at or above supervisor level. Eighty-five percent of these respondents said their well-being had declined, while 56 percent said their job demands had increased. Moreover, 62 percent who were struggling to manage their workloads said they had experienced burnout “often” or “extremely often” in the previous three months.

The number of people reporting more symptoms of burnout has increased since then, not only in C-suites but also across organizations. When people are exhausted, they fall into a scarcity mindset (thinking about what they don’t have) and aren’t as adaptable or open to learning. We expect to see these mental-health and well-being challenges continue for at least the next year or two.

The best way to handle demanding situations is by investing in one’s own well-being first. Just like athletes who continually invest in their own physical and mental health—not only before a game or a race—leaders have to be fit to face whatever comes their way and to support others for however long it takes. Leaders should focus on allowing themselves to thrive, and then helping others to be at their physical, mental, and emotional best.10

The CEO of a global mobility tech company told us that when the pandemic began, he took advantage of not having to travel by restarting a daily running routine. He started at five kilometers a day, using the time and physical activity to reflect and refresh, eventually building his runs to marathon length. After injuring himself, however, he realized that he had begun to approach running as a goal to be achieved rather than as a nurturing practice to enjoy. So he shifted back to his original goal of giving himself time to reflect, which in turn helped him perform and nurture his team.

Research shows that taking deliberate breaks accelerates learning and skill acquisition. For example, a study of violin prodigies11 revealed that students who were quickest to master the instrument took regular and significant breaks, including naps between practice sessions, rather than playing for hours on end. In another study of people trying to perform a task involving new skills, those who took breaks to mentally reset improved much more quickly under performance pressure.12

Counter to what leaders may think, attending to one’s own physical well-being is not selfish. Rather, physical and mental health are necessary to build sound decision-making skills amid uncertainty (Exhibit 1).

Daily practices that foster well-being can help leaders’ performance in an era of constant change.
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Many leaders think they have to show their organizations that they are always “on,” never being out of pocket long or taking needed vacations. But research shows that leaders who are role models for well-being can have a positive impact across their organizations. They understand from their own experience that people learn better and faster when they are healthy and well-rested.

A McKinsey survey on employee experience found that taking care of one’s physical and mental health was associated with a 21 percent improvement in work effectiveness, a 46 percent improvement in employee engagement, and a 45 percent improvement in well-being. Organizations that invest in scaling well-being and improving employee experience have seen lower rates of employee turnover, higher ratings on innovation, and even increased Iong-term stock performance.13 They are also more frequently cited as great places to work.

Step 2: Make purpose your North Star and define your ‘nonnegotiables’

While learning is normally invigorating, it can feel daunting during challenging times. We often fall into the trap of attending to the most urgent tasks rather than what is the most important. That’s where a sense of purpose comes in: it offers a framework that makes hard work worthwhile and expands tolerance for change. When employees feel that their purpose is aligned with that of their organization, the benefits expand to include stronger engagement and self-efficacy, as well as heightened loyalty.

Purpose starts with exploring what truly matters to you and what you want to spend time on. As your North Star, your purpose can guide you through tough decisions and inspire you to move forward.

While purpose helps define what you hope to gain, it also frames what you don’t want to lose—your “nonnegotiables.” These are the vows you make to yourself that you will not break no matter what: I will coach junior colleagues; I will be home for my child’s birthday; I will take time off to see my parents. Even if they’re sometimes tough to execute, keeping these vows is worth it.

The link between well-being and purpose is strong. People who say that they are “living their purpose” at work report levels of well-being that are five times higher than those who say that they are not. Research shows they are also healthier, more productive, and more resilient. For their part, leaders who link their own purpose to that of their organization in a genuine fashion help their employees do the same, creating stronger relationships over time.

Step 3: Experience the world through an adaptability lens

Unless the brain learns something new, it will forecast what will happen based on what it has seen and learned before.14 That is why people default to certain behavioral patterns, especially under stress. Some want to control the situation. Others tend to see themselves as victims, claiming everything is out of their control and shutting down.

Our default patterns may serve to protect us in the moment. But ultimately, they may hinder our ability to adapt and respond in ways that a new situation requires. Often, we realize this is the case only after an interaction in which our default patterns have caused friction in a relationship. These can be missed opportunities to take a proactive approach to the situation.

Underlying these patterns are mindsets and beliefs we hold, often unconsciously, that influence how we perceive reality and make us less flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances. However, if we can recognize that we’re moving to our default mindset for stressful situations—signals such as sweaty palms or other physical reactions to perceived threats—and instead push ourselves to see multiple perspectives, we move into a world that offers more possibilities.

While status quo mindsets may be perfectly reasonable in some routine (or low-stress) situations, they are progressively less useful as circumstances become more complex and we’re under more pressure. What becomes optimal then is for leaders and organizations to shift into adaptable learning mindsets (Exhibit 2).

Mindsets run on a continuum, from a focus on the status quo to greater adaptability.
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For leaders, one enemy of the adaptive mindset is a belief that it’s their job to have the “right answers” rather than knowing when to ask the right questions. It’s essentially the same trap that Zen Buddhism warns against falling into, thus urging practitioners to adopt what it calls the beginner’s mind, or shoshin. “In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities,” according to this concept. “In the expert’s mind, there are few.”

What we now know is that this beginner’s mind is not a fixed personality trait or a skill available only to Zen masters; it is a learnable skill for everyone. We can build ours through deliberate practice. If leaders shed their “expert” status, they can navigate uncertain situations by collecting information in new and productive ways. By shifting their mindset to encourage learning, curiosity, and openness to change, leaders can display the flexibility to find solutions.

For instance, C-suite leaders at a multinational corporation were struggling with how best to support employees during the pandemic as burnout rates rose. As a practitioner of the “expert mindset,” the CEO felt he should already know the answers and was unable to accept such uncertainty. He was coached to approach the problem by seeking different perspectives—for instance, by turning to team members with nursing, military, and paramedic backgrounds, who had experience dealing with trauma. Making such a journey requires awareness of your default mindsets, understanding when they are not serving you, opening up to what else may be true, and intentionally shifting into a new, adaptable mindset.

Self-awareness and reflection are critical components of adaptability. Ways to build awareness include making a “to be” list—that is, a list of the values we want to embody—and setting your intentions in the morning, ahead of a busy day, or at work when things get challenging. Reflecting at the end of the day about difficult moments also helps build an adaptable “unlocking mindset” for the future. The central issue is not that we experience anxiety or uncertainty—that will happen frequently—but rather whether we respond to those pressures in ways that lead us to do more of the same rather than learning and changing.

Step 4: Build deeper and more diverse connections

Strong interpersonal relationships also bolster adaptability, since human beings need meaningful connections to survive and thrive. These community networks can even affect longevity, research shows.15

We typically go through our daily work routine actively engaging with tasks and indirectly engaging with colleagues to help us achieve those tasks. But that emphasis is misplaced: inattention to colleagues is actually counterproductive to both our well-being and our productivity at work.

Research has found that deep and diverse connections that provide social support are fundamental elements of the rich tapestry feeding our well-being and learning,16 especially during periods of uncertainty and heightened stress.

As a leader, there are certain actions you can take to foster deeper connections:

  • Pay full attention to the person in front of you. When in conversation, we often let our minds stray, or we multitask by checking our phone or email. Full attention requires tuning our awareness toward the other person and listening deeply, without judgment. When people feel heard, they can also hear you.
  • Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Show up as your authentic self and be willing to share your fears, concerns, and imperfections. While it can feel risky to be exposed, this process is always one of deliberate choice.
  • Show empathy, but don’t stop there. Empathy alone is not enough. Leaders can learn to channel the right kind of empathy, which involves taking into account the other person’s perspective without being distracted from the situation at hand or, potentially, using up your own energy on unpleasant feelings. Once you understand the other person’s perspective, you become aware of the best course of action.
  • Meet others with compassion. If you’ve noticed someone else’s pain—physical, mental, or social—demonstrate your intent to take supportive action. At the same time, be aware that you can never fully understand what they’re going through, so keep an open mind. While general acts of kindness are appreciated, compassion is more nuanced and specific to the needs of the individual.

We have worked with leaders who have changed how they connect with people by considering the ways described above. For instance, the head of plastic surgery at a major hospital in North America was enlisted to sponsor one of the hospital’s new cohorts. During a live coaching exercise, he was unhappy that a team member waited until the end of a three-week consultation process before opposing new safety protocols the group wanted to implement.

Initially frustrated, he asked why she had waited until the last minute. As he reflected more, though, he realized that he had failed to create a safe enough environment for this team member to raise her concerns. He realized he had tried to convince everyone to take a specific action but had failed to create an atmosphere in which people could discuss their views openly.

His mindset then shifted to “What can I do differently to make sure that these voices speak up earlier?” He debriefed the team, held himself accountable, and worked with others to set new norms. By creating these deeper connections, he allowed team members to bring their whole selves to work and feel valued enough to contribute honestly.

Step 5: Make it safe to learn

Healthy team dynamics also foster adaptability. Working in teams influences the extent to which we prioritize learning, especially from setbacks and failures. The absence of conflict and the appearance of compliance may not reflect that dynamic, however. Teams can have cultures in which setbacks and failures go unacknowledged or, worse, are punished, or they can have cultures that seize setbacks as opportunities from which to learn and grow.

Leaders can have a unique influence on which team culture is adopted depending on the degree to which they foster psychological safety. This is a shared belief held by team members that interpersonal risk taking is safe—that ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes will be welcomed and valued.17

Experiencing safety is an essential ingredient for higher performance, creativity, and improved well-being. It invites full, authentic participation from every member, fosters constructive debate and creative problem solving, and allows teams to learn quickly. For such a climate to be successful, leaders should be aware of and model the requisite behaviors and deliberately support team members. Put simply, by creating psychological safety, leaders simultaneously demonstrate their own adaptability and create an environment where adaptability can flourish for their teams. This is very different from a leader who believes, “I know best and the team should follow me.”

Here are four practices that can help leaders foster psychological safety:

  • Reframe “failures.” Failure is emotionally difficult, since we are primed to succeed. Leaders can help frame failure as a way to learn from missteps and build future successes. This emphasis helps reinforce an adaptable environment in which people feel comfortable being honest and vulnerable; it also invites curious, open, and growth mindsets.
  • Encourage team voice. A diversity of perspectives pushes us to be innovative and elevates our performance. Leaders can strive to invite team input into decision making and use more dialogue to encourage discussion. Reinforce “messenger” behavior by appreciating all ideas and thanking those who share them, even if that message is not ultimately acted on. If the idea is dismissed, be sure to explain why, and seek to “unmute” the voices of those who are silent.
  • Appreciate others. To drive full participation, team members need to feel valued for their contributions. Leaders can avoid generic congratulations or only recognizing results. Instead, they can reward members’ efforts, making recognition for their contributions part of the team’s vernacular.
  • Coach team members to support one another. As a contributor to psychological safety, team climate is more than twice as important as leadership style, we’ve found. Coaching, role modeling, mentoring, and setting up structures are critical to creating an environment that feels safe.

Recently, we had a conversation with a leadership team at an international relief organization that wanted to build healthier dynamics. The team was preparing to welcome a new CEO though during the previous transition, there was a lot of unhelpful history that got in the way of performance.

The new CEO decided to go on a journey with this team to transform that challenging history into a story of hope and opportunity. He engaged external coaches to help encourage team learning, feedback, curiosity, and mindsets open to transformation. Over time, the group went from a collection of individuals lacking mutual trust to a close-knit team that is much stronger today, despite bumps along the road. The CEO’s focus on building trust, along with his growth mindset and willingness to appear vulnerable, made it possible for a fresh culture of psychological safety to arise.

Four ways to build adaptability at scale

The power of adaptability grows when the entire organization reinforces these cultural norms and behaviors. From our experience with both virtual and in-person capability building, we have identified a few ingredients as particularly important. As they enter a new chapter of hybrid work, organizations must seize the opportunity to integrate these elements with the more traditional in-person immersive experience. Here are four ways leaders can scale adaptability building.

Use bite-size training as practice. The prevailing belief has been that deeper awareness and habit-shifting work was possible only through immersive in-person experiences. But as with so many other paradigms, the COVID-19 pandemic changed that view. Many organizations have rolled out short digital training modules coupled with the use of behavioral-reinforcement tools, such as nudges. This content focuses on teaching simple adaptability concepts that participants can practice in their day-to-day lives, which can accelerate learning and behavior changes.

We’ve seen this approach help companies undergoing upheaval—for instance, at a global company that went through a complex merger before the pandemic hit. To improve adaptability, it designed a fully digital program to train 5,000 of its top people managers. The program offered a dozen 20- to 30-minute modules delivered over three months, accompanied by weekly emails to reinforce adaptability behaviors.

At the end of the program, it found that participants who engaged with most of the content (four to six hours over three months) saw 2.7 times the improvement in adaptability behaviors (learning skills, empathy and compassion, and fostering psychological safety and greater self-awareness) and 3.0 times the improvement in outcomes (performance, well-being, adapting to change, and developing new skills) as the control group. Even participants who engaged for just 20 to 30 minutes per month saw meaningful increases in adaptability and outcomes, at 1.4 times and 1.9 times the control group, respectively.

Create learning communities. Virtual learning can reach more people faster, engaging larger cohorts in shared experiences. This helps create networks across the organization and a deeper sense of belonging, both of which support adaptability.

During the pandemic, the hospital system we mentioned earlier created formal learning communities for leaders who had graduated from a virtual learning program. These groups continue to meet regularly, applying the lessons they learned to challenges including scheduling patients or clinical personnel, solving conflicts, and supporting a grieving colleague. Such cohorts provide a unique resource to combat feelings of isolation and augment a shared sense of belonging.

Role model at all levels, including visible sponsors at the top. Virtual learning can help senior leaders connect meaningfully with more people faster. At the hospital system, one of the sponsors of the learning program was a well-respected plastic surgeon. He was coached live, in front of the group, encouraging his cohort to share learning stories and generate engagement. He told us that being a sponsor was the best leadership-development training he had ever done, helping him to adopt a leadership mindset in which his role was to serve and support his staff, rather than the other way around. The impact was also positive for participants, who started to build more trust with senior management.

Create enabling mechanisms to build enduring capabilities. To build adaptability into a skill that becomes part of the organization’s core, it’s important to track progress frequently and meticulously. For instance, organizations can use a multirater feedback tool—a digital platform that assesses the effectiveness of the adaptability learning journey for employees. It also shares aggregate data with leaders and tracks when course corrections are necessary.

By investing in measures that emphasize well-being, purpose, mindset shifts, deeper connections, and team learning, leaders become better equipped to meet the challenges ahead. Applying these lessons throughout their organizations makes for healthier and more responsive teams.

Leaders should understand that adaptability is a skill that is mastered with continual practice—the ability to “learn how to learn” does not materialize overnight. Those who have the courage and humility to do this work can summon their adaptability skills right when they are needed most. In a world of constant flux, that is a crucial skill set indeed.

Appropriate Risk – via Seth Godin Newsletter

* Appropriate risk [ https://p.feedblitz.com/r3.asp?l=180639278&f=1081591&c=7920826&u=5102652 ]

We talk about risk like it’s a bad thing.

But all forward motion involves risk. You can’t find a risk-free way to accomplish much of anything.

Appropriate risk has two elements:

– The odds of it working out are commensurate with the benefits.
– The consequences of being wrong don’t eliminate your chance to try a different path next time.

We don’t try something simply because there’s no downside. Instead, we intelligently choose projects where the downside is understood and the work is worth doing.

Did you know…

Did you know…

… that today is Comedy Love Story Day? Comedians Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara got married on this day in 1953. And because of that union, we’re now entertained by their son, actor Ben Stiller! Watch your favorite comedy today with someone you love.


Today’s Inspirational Quote:

“If I only had three words of advice, they would be, Tell the Truth. If I got three more words, I’d add, All the Time.”

— Randy Pausch


14 Wise Quotes From Jedi Master Yoda

14 Wise Quotes From Jedi Master Yoda

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Few movies, if any, have created as many iconic characters as the Star Wars franchise, especially the original trilogy. Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca… the list goes on and on. Everyone has their favorite, but when it comes to classic lines, Jedi Master Yoda is arguably the most quotable character. The small, green character is wise, funny, and grouchy at times, and has a distinct way of speaking that can turn even the simplest of phrases into a nugget of wisdom.

We never learn what species Yoda belongs to, but we do know that he is a legend in his own lifetime — a very long lifetime. Viewers first met him on the swamp planet of Dagobah in The Empire Strikes Back. “For eight hundred years have I trained Jedi,” he tells Luke, and we realize that this funny little creature is in fact a Jedi Master — one of the few to survive the catastrophic events of Order 66. We also know, through deduction, that Yoda was born in 896 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin), making him 900 years old at the time of his death in Return of the Jedi.

Yoda appears at some point in all three trilogies — the originals, prequels, and sequels — either in physical form or as a Force spirit. He also appears in numerous Star Wars novels and spin-offs. Here, in chronological order according to the timeline of the Star Wars universe, are some of Yoda’s most memorable quotes, revealing the wisdom and the wit of the greatest-ever Jedi.

Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.
— Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is. Uncluttered.
— Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones

Old sins cast long shadows.
— Ahsoka Tano quoting Yoda in Star Wars: Clone Wars

To be Jedi is to face the truth, and choose. Give off light, or darkness, Padawan. Be a candle, or the night, Padawan: but choose!
— Yoda to the Jedi Padawan Whie Malreaux in the Star Wars Legends novel Yoda: Dark Rendezvous

Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not.
— Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way.
— Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is.
— Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

No. Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try.
— Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

Oh! Great warrior… Wars not make one great.
— Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan’s apprentice.
— Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

When nine hundred years old you reach, look as good you will not, hmm?
— Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

Soon will I rest, yes, forever sleep. Earned it I have…. Ah, strong am I with the Force, but not that strong. Twilight is upon me, and soon, night must fall. That is the way of things. The way of the Force.
— Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

Heeded my words not, did you? Pass on what you have learned. Strength. Mastery. But weakness, folly, failure also. Yes, failure most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is. Luke, we are what they grow beyond. That is the true burden of all masters.
— Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi

Alone, never have you been… Rise in the Force.
— Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker

Photo credit: AA Film Archive/ Alamy Stock Photo