There’s little that’s more satisfying than having a theory you’ve come up with be validated. I mean this in a very informal sense – having predictions come true is what the human brain is based on. You learn a little, you make a prediction based on what you know, and if the prediction comes true, it is kept and used as knowledge to make more predictions. (Read much more about this in one of my favorite books of all time, On Intelligence).
This can be anything – if you figure out that you have to take your cookies out of the oven one minute after you first smell them, if you find the right way to factor a polynomial, if you adjust the way you hold your elbows while shooting a free throw. Of course, it applies to business and life too. Those are two of the four biggest driving forces in humans (the other two being family and religion).
I just had a great experience where some predictions I’ve made about how to live my life and run a business have been confirmed. Now that GeekStack is moving from stealth to pre-launch publicity I’ve begun to deal with potential customers, investors, and partners, and I’ve had to figure out how to best deal with that (it’s a big change from working with just compilers). My verification came partly from first-hand experience, and partly from confirmation from a trustworthy source. What was the trustworthy source?
How much cheesier and scheistery a title could possibly exist? With a title like that I don’t know if he’s going to rob me or sell me a time share. I put off reading that for so long despite repeated recommendations from many people I respect. Life today is cynical and sarcastic and I’ve been a big part of it.
But part of me wanted out – I wanted to be positive, uplifting, constructive, and luminous. From the opening pages of the book, you can see that this book encourages all of those things. It isn’t New Age fruitiness, and it isn’t manipulative scheistery. It’s the refined process of decades of teaching public speaking and success in business relations. It was heavily researched and refined over many editions. For each princple it lays out, it gives anecdotes from people who took the Carnegie speaking classes, from historical figures, and from contemporary business people. The focus isn’t on doing things differently, it’s on completely changing your outlook on life and people and specific ways to implement that new self.
So what part of it confirmed a prediction of mine? After reading the first few chapters, I tried to implement as many variations on the basic principle as possible. The general idea is to care for other people enough to treat them well, reward them for their good works, and praise generously. So after getting results from doing those things I thought of, both from others and within myself, it was icing on the cake to read about those same principles later in the book! It made me feel like I really got the point of the book and that I wasn’t just following a checklist but becoming a better person.
(But despite all the goodness, it still sounds cheesy to modern cynical me)