Tag Archive | Connection(s)

The Art of Anchoring 5

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the best Memento Mori reminder?”

Your breath, because it’s always with you. Imagine the last breath you’ll ever take, and savor this breath as if it was your last.”

“What is the second-best reminder?”

People. Acknowledge your common humanity. Imagine the last breath they’ll ever take, and revel in the shared moment as if it was their last.”

Quotes as Resource: Quote Combos

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What are quote combos?”

“In Magic the Gathering, cards can be combined to achieve an emergent effect more powerful than the individual cards. I call the underlying principle, Synergy. In the game’s terminology, a synergistic combination of cards is called a combo.

By default, people think of quotes as single entities. However, just like in Magic, quotes can be combined to amplify their effect. This is what I call a quote combo.”

“Can you give an example?”


Less but better. (Greg McKeown, Essentialism)

The small things are the big things. (Josh Waitzkin)

How you do anything is how you do everything. (Josh Waitzkin)

This is a powerful quote combo that expresses an essential aspect of my life philosophy. I have it pinned on the desktop of my computer to see it at all times.”

On Learning and Clarity

Everything you do is controlled by two things: your beliefs and your values. (Tony Robbins)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I master Connection – connecting with people?”

“Start by gaining clarity

Create a map of the practice.

Here’s a framework you can use:

  • Purpose
    • Why do you want to master Connection?
  • Beliefs
    • What are the most powerful beliefs you can install?
    • Identity
      • What are the most powerful identity-blocks you can install?
  • Values
    • What are the most powerful values you can adopt / focus on?
  • Obstacles
    • What are the biggest obstacles? (80/20)
    • What is the biggest obstacle? (One Thing)
  • Skills
    • What are the highest-leverage skills you can learn?

An important thing to understand is that beliefs and values are resources.

You can strategically install beliefs and values to achieve a specific end.

Become a collector of beliefs and values and integrate the most powerful ones.

“Can you give some examples?”



Everything in our lives comes from others. (John Cremer)

People are not their behaviors. (Tony Robbins, NLP)

Everybody is always doing the best they can with the resources available to them. But sometimes we find ourselves in unresourceful states. (Tony Robbins, NLP)

Every behavior has a positive intention. (NLP)

Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. (Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements)


  • Giver
  • Energizer
  • The Saint

“The Saint?”

“The Saint is a powerful archetypal model which can be evoked to guide behavior.”

“Something like asking ‘what would Jesus do?'”

“Precisely. You’re evoking an ideal model and, in the moment, measuring yourself against it.


  • Love
    • Loving Kindness
    • Loving Empathy
    • Loving Compassion
    • Loving Generosity
  • Authenticity
    • Courage


“What would you say are the biggest obstacles?”

The inner obstacles – emotions.


  • Fear
    • Vulnerability
    • Shame
    • Embarrassment

And so on.

The map doesn’t have to be perfect. You’ll be constantly refining it along the way.”

Creativity Games: Making the familiar strange

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What’s the game about?”

“It’s a little imagination game I created for myself to practice creativity.

The game is simple.

Pick any object in the environment and say:

This is x

where x must be something imaginatively connected to the object. For every x, visualize it, and make up a little visual story.

There’s a principle of creativity which I call Alternatives – not settling for the first answer that comes to mind, and generating as many alternatives as possible. Viewed as a skill, it’s the capacity to generate large quantities of creative output. That’s the goal of the game.”

“Can you give an example?”


Let’s take this [physical] page I’m writing on. I might say:

This is snow.
This is a magic carpet.
This is a wall.
This is an undead tree.
This is a towel.
This is a slide.
This is a garden.
This is a toy.
This is a raft.

Another flavor of the game is generating random alternatives.

It starts the same:

This is x

but now x is this first thing that comes to mind.

This is a chimney.
This is a squirrel.
This is a needle.

The goal here is to discover connections between the object and the generated words.”

Playing with Connections

Two things in life make you feel alive: growing and giving. (Tony Robbins)

True love is a love of giving, not a love of receiving. (Abraham Twerski)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“As you know, one of my favorite pastimes is playing with making connections [<link; short read] as a means of discovering beautiful ideas.”

“What’s your process?”

“I like to do it mind-mapping style.

Let’s take those two quotes as an example.

From the outset, a beautiful idea jumps at me. Giving can have two meanings:

Giving is Love
Giving is Contribution

Representing it visually, another beautiful idea jumps at me: Growing itself can be seen as an act of Self-Love.

Growing is Love

Building on it, we can say Love is the essence of both Growing and Giving.

This is the starting framework which I build on by making new connections. Each ‘is’ statement represents a meaningful connection expressesing a beautiful idea.

Growing is essentially Learning. 

Growing is Learning

The highest level of Learning is Mastery.

Learning is Mastery

By extension:

Growing is Mastery

The best way to Learn is by Teaching.

Learning is Teaching

As I see it, Teaching and Creating are the highest form of Contribution.

Giving is Creating
Giving is Teaching

I see both Learning and Teaching as creative endeavors.

Learning is Creating (Creative Learning)
Teaching is Creating (Creative Teaching)

Since Love is the essence of both Growing and Giving, we can say:

Creating is Love
Learning is Love
Teaching is Love

All these beautiful ideas combined form a beautiful model:

Beautiful Models: Access-Patterns

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What are access-patterns?”

“You’ve undoubtedly heard of the rule of three.” 

“The idea that things are more memorable (and aesthetic) when presented in threes.”


I call such a meaningful group of three elements, a triad-pattern

A triad-patten also makes things more memorable when retrieving them from your own mind, so it can be used as a memory-retrieval tool.

I call patterns that can be used for memory retrieval, access-patterns.

The triad is but one such pattern.”

“Can you give some examples of other access-patterns?”

“It’s better if I show some to you:


“What is the meaning of the colors?”

“All elements in blue are the access-point of the pattern, the first thing you think about when accessing the pattern mentally.”

“So the patterns with more than one blue element have multiple access-points.”


The monad-pattern is concept-stacking [<link; short read] – fusing concepts together for practical ends. 

For instance, my central value is Loving Play, which means the twin value of Love and Play. 

Another example is my concept of BodyMind, which is a means of expressing the oneness of body and mind.

All other access-patterns are instances of what I call concept-linking – connecting concepts for the purpose of retrieval and creating meaning.

The patterns on the first row are linear-patterns, patterns where the order matters. The rest are non-linear patterns.

For instance let’s take Brian Johnson’s Big Three model: Energy, Work, Love. Here, the order matters, the sequence is what makes it memorable.

We could however express it in a way where verticality matters:


We can think of it as a pyramid, where Energy is the foundation, and Love is the highest end. It’s the same triad, but by changing the pattern, we’ve encoded additional meaning.

Another example of this is the cardinal tetrad-pattern, where the four elements mirror the four cardinal directions. The visual representation encodes additional meaning, making it more memorable.”

Two models of creativity

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is creativity?”

“To quote Steve Jobs,

Creativity is just connecting things.

I call this the Connections model of creativity.

Creativity is Connecting.

I must say, I love this model. I love it so much that I have the word ‘Connections’ tattooed on my right forearm.”

“I like to pair it with another model.

I call it the Patterns model of creativity.

Creativity is Patterning.

By Pattering I mean two things: 


As concerns pattern-recognition, there’s a quote that’s been stuck on my mind for a very long time:

Genius is only a superior power of seeing. (John Ruskin)

In a flash of insight, I realized that Ruskin’s ‘superior power of seeing‘ is pattern-recognition. The creative genius looks at the same things everyone else looks and consistently sees something different. It’s like he lives in a different reality.”

“Maybe genius is often a polymath because different disciplines give you different ways of seeing reality.

Take Parkour for instance. Once you’ve been practicing for a while, you develop what practitioners call ‘Parkour Vision‘, and from that moment on, the environment is never the same.

By extension, many disciplines (if not all) develop their own kind of similar ‘Vision’. Viewed as a template [<link; medium read], I call it ‘X Vision‘:

– Design Vision
– Poetry Vision
– Photography Vision
– Humor Vision
– Systems Vision

“Interesting idea.

As concern pattern-restructuring, it has two components:


Pattern-restructuring is essentially Lateral Thinking. Breaking internal patterns (eg habit-breaking) or external patterns (eg rules-breaking), and creating new patterns that have value.

The two models are complementary. We might call them synergistic models – a combo, to use Magic the Gathering terminology.”

Creativity Tools: The Thematic Oracle

How to use an oracle:

Have a specific question on which you would like a fresh perspective. Clear your mind so that you are in a receptive state.

Pick an “answer” at random.

How does the creative insight relate to your question?
What story does it tell?
What sense can you make out of it?

Try to think of as many contexts as possible in which the Insight makes sense. Be literal in your interpretation. Be metaphorical. Be off-the-wall. Be serious. Don’t worry how practical or logical you are. What’s important is to give free reign to your thinking.

Most insights will trigger an immediate response. Sometimes, however, you’ll look at one and think, “This has nothing to do with my question,” and be tempted to dismiss it. Don’t. Force yourself to make a connection. Often those ideas that initially seem the least relevant turn out to be the most important because they point to something that you’ve been completely overlooking.

(Roger von Oech, Expect the Unexpected (Or You Won’t Find It))

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is a thematic oracle?”

“Using the normal oracle, you’re asking a question and picking an ‘answer’ at random.

Using a thematic oracle, you’re picking an ‘answer’ from a collection of items that are thematically linked.

For instance, you can pick a word at random from the dictionary. (words)

Or you can generate a random quote. (quotes)

Or you can generate a random Magic the Gathering card. (Magic cards)

Thematic Oracle

You can use anything on the card: the image, the title, the mana symbols, the card type, the set symbol, the description, the flavor text [the italicized text on the card].”

“How do you generate random Magic cards?”

“On my phone, I use the method [<link; short read] we’ve spoken about a little while ago.

On my computer I use Gatherer [<link], the official Magic the Gathering card database. At the top of the page there’s a ‘Random Card’ option. (Sadly the option is missing on the phone.)”

On Knowledge 3

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is knowledge?”

“Knowledge is organized information.

I like to think of it as a network. A network has two components: nodes, and connections. In the knowledge network, the nodes represent potentially useful information, and the connections represent understanding.”

“So useless information is not knowledge?”

“Not in my view of it.”

“What if you don’t know whether a piece of information has the potential to be useful?”

“That’s a skill you can develop. Edward de Bono calls it ‘Value Sensitivity‘.

Useful information is instrumental. We might think of it as creative building-blocks.

The output of useful information – and of Thinking, more generally – is Creating Value. It can be in the form of problem-solving, optimization, conveying meaning, etc.

You can increase your knowledge in two ways: by creating more nodes, either through direct or indirect experiences [<link; medium], and by creating more connections between the nodes.”

“What about externally organized information. Does that count as knowledge?”

“We can make a distinction between internal and external knowledge. External knowledge is useful only insofar as it creates internal knowledge.

As Scott H. Young put it,

Knowledge that is not in your head can’t help you to solve problems.

The Juxtaposition Game

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How do you practice Creativity?”

“One way I like to practice is by playing a little game I call The Juxtaposition Game.”

“What’s it about?”

An important Creativity skill is the ability to generate random output.

There’s a practice I know from a TED talk called 3 random words – coming up with 3 random words in quick succession.

The Juxtaposition Game is a similar practice which I invented for myself, but with two random words instead of three.

The essence of Creativity is connecting things.

After I generate the words, I play with discovering connections between them – the goal is to discover as many connections as possible, both literal and metaphoric –, and to making up a little story including both. 

By viewing it through the lens of Humor, I practice Humor as well. The juxtapositions themselves can be funny, and/or the connections between them, and/or the story.”



This is a high-density practice. I practice randomness, making connections, storytelling, Imagination and Humor at the same time.”