I'm staying with a friend of mine who is a very successful executive. He used to work from home before getting a huge contract at a Fortune 100 company, so he's not in his home office any more. He invited me to stay here, and so I'm sleeping in the office of an incredibly successful executive, investor, director of some large public companies, and otherwise incredibly prolific and brilliant guy.
It's 99% pleasant. We get to have brilliant conversations about money, strategy, investing, history, governance, travel, and so on in the evenings and weekends. I normally don't like chaos, but the home office is the most wonderful blend of chaos I've ever worked in. It's stacked with stuff - a couple of iPads, old discarded smartphones and Blackberries, a wireless printer, luggage, filing trays, tables. On the top shelf out of reach is a gigantic Grey Goose bottle, a painting of Buddha, and some sort of ornate chest.
The 1% of unpleasantness? My friend has a gigantic wolfhound. In the morning, someone picks up his dog and cares for it during the day, and the dog comes back at night.
It's a beautiful dog. But it doesn't respect anyone except my friend, and it wants to jump all over me or whoever else is nearby. He's clawed the hell out of my arms and I've got cuts on them. I need to study basic dog survival techniques post-haste because it's a little ridiculous.
This dog could cause massive problems for anyone. It's huge. It's enormous, with tons of weight and power and energy. And it's a hyper dog that doesn't like being inside, and we're on the 16th floor of a highrise.
But my friend, ever the commander and executive, has asserted that he is in charge of the dog, and not the other way around.
When the dog starts to get hyper and want to jump or destroy something, he calls her and says, "Dog! Go HOME" - and the dog slinks to his large indoor doghouse and lays down.
Only once that I've been around has the dog disobeyed him, and he immediately roughly grabbed the dog by the scruff of the neck, said, "Dog! Where is YOUR HOME? You need to GO HOME! GO HOME!"
And thus, the master is still the master, the dog is still the dog, and the dog quietly does the master's bidding instead of jumping all over the place and destroying things.
A couple days ago, I advocating reminding yourself that "Self Destructive Is Generally Counterproductive" when feeling the urge to go against your long term goals. That little phrase is incredibly useful for staying on track with your goals.
Mark Bao wrote a nice reply analyzing why it works -
My thought is: [reminding yourself that self-destruction is counterproductive] triggers a subconscious memory of when you first decided to set the goal, and reminds you of why you did it and what you imagined the end result to be. With this perspective floating in your mind, the urge to do better and be better, because indulging does mean a net negative, overpowers the nagging thought of the satisfaction of indulgence. This reminder gets you into the perspective and mindset from when you set your goal.
I agree with Mark. I'm largely convinced that our thinking/decisionmaking systems are divided into the older, animalistic systems that have urges to jump around and do whatever, and the more newly evolved neocortex where our high level thinking and executive ability comes from.
To be very effective, then, the neocortex needs to train and subjugate the old animalistic systems, so that your natural inclinations become more gradually in harmony with what your higher-thinking human side wants you to do, instead of just the urges to jump around, eat some junk food, and have sex ASAP with whatever is nearby.
Interestingly, my executive friend doesn't use "the stick" very often with his dog. Over 90% of the time, it's a friendly and loving relationship. Even when the dog is being bad, 9% of that time he just implies that he'll get tough by speaking her name in a firm tone. Only 1% of the time does the dog actually push its limits and try to see who is in charge.
I think that's a healthy relationship with your mind if it can be built - but it only comes from good training. My friend consistently asserted and built up his understanding with the dog since it was a puppy. By training well, he doesn't have to get tough or nasty very often.
Likewise, by setting up good structure and training your emotional/animalistic reward system well, you don't have to get tough with yourself very often. Even when your urges start to slip from your goals, a calm warning like "Self destruction is generally counterproductive..." pulls the animal side into line.
And thus, the master remains the master, the animal the animal, and you don't have your more primal systems destroying your goals and objectives.
Now, if someone could recommend me a good fast read on dog training, I'd mightily appreciate it...