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3 Tactics Ordinary Citizens Used To Out Predict CIA Experts

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In the intelligence community, it’s crucial to be able to predict future events. The ability for the CIA and its intelligence counterparts to be able to forecast world events based on limited information is what gives us advantages on the international stage.

In a recent interview on The Science of Success Podcast, New York Times best-selling author Dan Gardner shares the incredible story of how a group of citizen volunteers led by Philip Tetlock, changed the way our intelligence communities’ approach analyzing and forecasting future political events.

It all started in 2011. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) decided it was time to evaluate and improve on how The United States’ 16 intelligence agencies forecast future events. The idea was to analyze these agencies past predictions and find ways to learn from previous mistakes.

The intelligence community actually spends a lot of its time not just spying, but also analyzing information to try and figure out what’s going to happen next. Will Russia try to seize the Crimea? They’ll try to make forecasts. On all parts of geopolitical events, including economic events like what’s going to happen at the Chinese economy in the fourth quarter, that sort of thing.”

So in order to gain perspective the intelligence community agreed to fund a number of private researches to assemble teams of unpaid volunteers to take their best shot at it. “You set up a team to make forecasts, and we’ll ask questions, and they’ll be the real world questions that we have to answer all the time.” Gardner explains.

Ultimately they came up with five university based research teams for this tournament. One of which was headed up by Gardner’s co-author, Philip Tetlock. They decided to name their team The Good Judgment Project. The Project successfully recruited thousands of volunteers. The ODNI set several benchmarks that all of the researchers thought we’re much too ambitious. “Prior to beginning the project, looking at these benchmarks, nobody could do this!”

The results were beyond surprising. Certain volunteers blew away each benchmark and predicted future events with incredible accuracy. “The Good Judgment Project won hands down. They found that a certain group of these volunteers were consistently good at forecasting these events. Anyone can get lucky once, twice, maybe three times. These volunteers however were consistent, and that is key.”

These “Superforecasters” were normal people, with average IQ scores, no previous intelligence community experience, and zero access to classified information. Each of these volunteers had a common interest in world events and stayed up to date on their world politics, but had nothing else you or I couldn’t find ourselves on Google. Yet they were making predictions that economists said should have been impossible.

So how did they do it? Dan points out three things the researchers from The Good Judgment Project found these volunteers had in common.

1. Unpack Your Problems

Many of us look at a problem as one thing. We are presented with the issue, we look it over, stroke our chins, and then try to solve. However, looking at the problem or question as one big issue will lead to terrible predictions.

What they do is that they methodically unpack the question. They take a big question, and they unpack it, and make a whole series of smaller questions, and then they unpack those and they make a series of smaller questions, and they methodically examine them.”

You’re taking one complex problem, breaking it down into its smaller, simpler components. Allowing you to answer these simpler questions and ultimately piece them back together to create an extremely accurate and effective answer to a larger problem.

“If you’re overwhelmed by the size of a problem, break it down into smaller pieces.” – Chuck Close

2. Craving Cognition

Each of these “superforecasters” had a desire to be intellectually challenged and learn. “These are people who like to learn, they’re constantly picking up bits and pieces of information, and no surprise, when you spend a lot of time picking up this sort of information, eventually you will have quite a number of dots in your intellectual arsenal for you to connect.”

Also, each volunteer enjoyed pushing himself or herself mentally. “They’re the kinds of people who do puzzles for fun and the harder the puzzle is, the more fun it is,” explains Gardner.

So next time you decide to do some recreational problem solving whether it be a puzzle or mental game, crank the difficulty up a little bit and give your brain a challenge.

3. It’s All About Your Mindset

Each “superforecaster” volunteer was extremely open to hearing other’s opinions. “This means okay, I’ve got my perspective but I want to hear your perspective. I want to hear somebody else’s perspective. I want to hear different ways of thinking about this problem.”

By listening to as many other opinions as possible, these volunteers were able to then synthesize ideas from multiple sources and viewpoints and create the most well rounded and analyzed prediction possible.

It’s easy to want to take all the credit, to finish first, and be the star of the show. We all have the impulse to think we’ve done our due diligence and our viewpoint is the right one. It’s only through keeping an open mind to other viewpoints and outside information that we can truly begin to consistently make better predictions and decisions.  

“Once your mindset changes, everything on the outside will change along with it.” – Steve Maraboli

The Good Judgment Project is still being conducted to this day and is open for volunteers. To learn more about the project, forecasting tactics, and Dan’s book Superforecasting, listen to his full hour interview on The Science of Success Podcast.

Which one of these three tactics do you use most? Please leave your thoughts below!

Matt Bodnar, named a “Rising Restaurateur Star” by the National Restaurant Association and a “Strategy Pro” by Restaurant Hospitality Magazine, is a partner at an early stage investment firm Fresh Hospitality where he focuses on deal making and strategy. Bodnar is also the creator and host of "The Science of Success" a #1 New & Noteworthy podcast, with more than 1 Million+ downloads, focused on improving decision-making, understanding psychology, and sharing insights from experts. Bodnar previously worked as an import/export consultant in Nanjing, China and spent several years at Goldman Sachs before returning to his family roots in the hospitality space.

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Life

How Stress Can Actually Improve the Quality of Your Life

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Naturally, those of us who experience less stress in our lives are more likely to succeed. So, it’s important that you learn how to reduce your daily level of stress, right? Maybe not. Recent research has shown the common wisdom about stress might be dangerously inaccurate. Psychologists tracked the health of 30,000 adults in the United States over an 8-year period. Participants were asked two important questions:

1.    “How much stress have you experienced in the last year?”
2.    “Do you believe stress is harmful to your health?” (more…)

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Life

The Truth About the Law of Attraction

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When we want something, we generally imagine the form it will take when it manifests. If we’re not careful, however, we can find ourselves attached more to the imagined form than the actual desired outcome. This is like placing an online order and expecting it to come in a blue box shipped by UPS. If we then receive a red box delivered by FedEx, we might not realize that it’s what we ordered, and never even open it!

For example, most of us say that we want money, but when money comes in the form of a free coffee or a gift or a discount, we don’t see it for what it is. We overlook it, and maybe we even say “No, thanks” and decline the gift which is, in one way or another, still money. In doing so, we fail to appreciate the value of the discount, the gift, or the freebie. If it isn’t cash being handed to us, we don’t see it as a manifestation of our desire.

The law of attraction is a funny thing.

It is much more complex and much more intricate than what it seems to be and yet, at the same time, it’s so very simple: We always get what we want. We always receive more of the energy at which we vibrate. Always.

However, if we’re acting from the energy of “I don’t deserve it” or “I don’t think I’m worthy,” then whatever it is that we receive will be negated and essentially unseen. On the other hand, if we are open, observant, and maintaining an abundance mindset, we will receive our request on numerous levels and from plentiful sources!

“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” – Napoleon Hill

This is because we “place our order” not only through our words, but through our actions, our beliefs, and our thoughts.

Last month, I was open to receiving a new client. I didn’t know how it would happen, but I’d set my intention: I was going to get a new client. That night, out of nowhere, I got a message from an old student of mine. She was looking to hire me again as her coach for the upcoming college entrance exams in the U.S. But wait! I didn’t want an entrance exam client.

What I actually wanted was to get life and business coaching clients. This student was my “red box from Fed Ex.” I wanted to decline at first, but as I was about to reply, something made me stop. I asked myself, “Why am I rejecting this?”

This student is an amazing client. She pays on time. She’s not needy. She does her part. Best of all? She doesn’t short-change me. So I said yes, because I realized that the Universe was simply responding to the essence of my desire.

You see, my “Big Why” in everything I do has always been to facilitate an accelerated personal and business growth for my clients, and this student fit the bill in every way. She wanted the personal growth, she was ready to go all in and she reached out to me.

It didn’t look like the package I was expecting so I didn’t recognize it at first—and I nearly turned it away—but she was the perfect answer to my request.

Serving people like her has always been a driving force in my life.

The Universe knows that. It also knew that I wanted a client asap so that I could re-invest the money into my business, so it responded in the most ideal way… but in an unexpected form. And I came so close to missing it!

How many times have I missed other opportunities like this? How many times have I dismissed a “red box” because it wasn’t “blue?” I’ll never know. But I do know that, had I not stopped myself from sending a “No, thanks,” I would have felt as though the Universe wasn’t listening.

That’s the thing: the Universe is always listening.

The more open we are in receiving, the more we thrive. The more open our energy is, the greater the possibilities. Don’t just return that red box to the post office and keep waiting on a blue one. Ask yourself, first and foremost, if what you’re receiving at the moment matches up with your underlying desire.

See yourself living in abundance and you will attract it.” – Rhonda Byrne

The key is to be willing to receive anything and everything. How? Keep on reading1

1. Get clear on your “underlying desire.”

Identify exactly what it is that you really want—in my case, it was an ideal client (underlying) as opposed to a coaching client (surface)—and focus on that. Clear out all the mental noise and static that clouds your awareness.

2. Be flexible

Keep your eyes and mind open for anything that fits the description. When you ask for money, recognize that free coffee for what it is: $3 you were going to spend anyway, that can now remain in your pocket. Every penny on the ground, every coupon, it’s all money.

3. Keep an attitude of gratitude.

The more you appreciate what you have, the more that comes your way. Your grateful mindset opens the energetic door for more to flow your way, because “where attention goes, energy flows.” The more you focus on the things you want, the more you will draw them into your experience.

Remember, that the Universe responds to our requests in whatever way fits best within the big picture.

It’s a picture so big that we couldn’t possibly begin to see how it comes together. Trust it. Know that when you ask, you will receive. It may not come in the form you anticipate, but always in a form that responds to your underlying desire. You just have to be ready to see it.

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Life

7 Simple Ways to Master Your Emotions When Making Decisions

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A lot of people have big regrets when lying on their deathbed. These regrets are often related to bad decisions or decisions not taken. Thus, as it turns out, decision-making is dependent on great self-confidence. A person who has confidence in their decisions has an easier time making them.

Emotions also play a big role in all of this. This is a debate that has confronted two great thinkers. According to Descartes, “decisions are the product of the rational mind.” In other words, decision-making is essentially based on facts and mathematics.

But this thesis was refuted and proven to be wrong by Antonio Damasio in one of his works called “The Error of Descartes”. This was partly based on the story of Elliott, a kid that was very smart, who had above average rational capabilities, but incapable of making a decision, after a surgery to remove a brain tumor on the surface of his frontal lobes. After all his work in that matter, he concludes that a person who is incapable of emotion is incapable of making the most rational decisions.

The management of emotions is therefore completely inherent to good decision making, especially when making the most important decisions. To this end, here are 7 tips to put into practice to really master your emotions thus making the best decisions possible and never regreting them.

1. Take a step back

You must learn to take the time to identify and understand your emotions. Since physical reactions are emotionally related, also take the time to detect the reactions you have to some of your emotions. To be able to take the distance necessary to make decisions, it’s important to refer to your prefrontal cortex. This is the area of ​​the brain responsible for reasoning. To do so you need to put yourself in a stress-free environment for a few minutes.

“Your life changes the moment you make a new, congruent and committed decision.” – Tony Robbins

2. Breathe

The best way to do this is to learn to breathe deeply. This will allow activating your prefrontal cortex again, therefore, to have better control of your emotions so you do not react to them, let alone to the event that causes these emotions. Do this exercise for at least 15 minutes. It’s amazing how you can train yourself never to react, no matter what the situation. Ideally, let at least 24 hours go by before responding to a situation that would normally cause tension.

3. Pay attention

Once you are in the prefrontal cortex, put one hand on your abdomen, at the level of your intestines, and the other hand on your heart, and take the time to listen. These two parts of the body are the two major centers of vibrations and emotions. This is why it’s important to listen and pay attention to them.

The purpose of this exercise is to become aware of your gut and heart. What you need to remember is that the only person you need to trust is yourself. By practicing this exercise, one thing will become very clear: what the emotion you feel seeks to convey to you about the decision you have to make.

Since everything is energy, first make sure that the vibration of the decision you are about to make and that of your heart and gut are in sync. You will then know whether to go ahead with your decision or reject it based on whether you feel serenity or heaviness.

4. Discern untruths

It is important to know whether your nervousness is the result of an untruth you’ve told yourself. These can corrupt the vibrations that should help you make the right decision. You have to throw out all of these untruths and come to the decision-making without any filter. Stop thinking that you’re unlucky, that you’re in a bad situation, that your life is a failure, or that you are a victim.

5. Become aware of your emotions instead of avoiding them

To become aware of your emotions, you must learn to coach yourself. Ask yourself questions: How did you feel the last time you had to ask these types of questions? What did you get in return? Rename what you felt and the result you obtained from what you decided to do. You will thus be much better at assimilating, understanding, and welcoming your emotions.

6. Be as present as possible

There is no point in focusing on the big events surrounding the decision you want to make. Concentrate instead on the present moment, without analyzing the events. Judge based on emotions rather than the event. By being more present, you will be better able to listen to your emotions and feel them.

Life is a matter of choices, and every choice you make makes you.” – John C. Maxwell

7. Make your emotions your allies

Each of your emotions speaks to you through the physical and physiological reactions that they generate in you. Look to the weight of their impact on you as an indicator. Only by listening to them, using them, and managing them can you manage your emotions.

Habit comes with practice. With time, these 7 points will become much more natural and will become automatic. You will make better decisions for yourself.  This is one of the best ways to not end up with one of the big regrets.

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Life

How to Keep Your Mind Away From Distractions in This Tech-Loaded World

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Social media notifications, push notifications, email notifications, and messages from chatting apps, keep peeping from the notification area of our smartphones and invite us into a world of a never-ending loop. Perhaps, even if it is ending, it is not until we have wasted 15-20 minutes of our productive time in just checking different apps and emails that we realize the need to get back to what’s important. No wonder many organizations insist employees on keeping their mobile phones in lockers prior to proceeding to their desk!

Technology is so enslaving that we don’t realize what an endless loop we are stuck in when we are constantly replying to our friends and relatives on social media or checking that limitless newsfeed on our timelines. If all the time of the day is put together, we can observe that we spend almost 4-5 hours on social media with the total output zero and sometimes negative.

Of course, keeping smart phone on airplane mode or switching it to Do Not Disturb mode, or somewhere away from us is the first line of defense against distractions, there are other steps preceding it to really spend your day productively.

Adopt a Proactive Approach

This implies that prior to beginning the day, you must take-charge of it. Instead of letting the day rule you, it should be vice-versa. You must adopt a zealous approach by planning your day and if possible, hours. You should have the determination to pay no heed to distractions in place of just letting them ruin your day by reacting to your impulses.

Instead of acceding to the fact that distractions are surely going to come your way and take up the major portion of your productive time, think about the ways in which you can tackle them.

You need to ponder on the need to focus and be determined to remain so during the day. You need to take the following steps for it:

  1. Plan how you are going to spend the hours of your day and deadline for completing tasks.
  2. Consider your to-do list as a choice rather than a chore to be completed.
  3. Remind yourself of the consequences of surrendering to distractions instead of completing your work. For instance, getting a reprimand from the manager for consistently low productivity and quality or having to rush to complete the work at the end of the day.
  4. Visualize the benefits of the time you gained by winking at notifications. Perhaps, you can spend more quality time with your kids or researching your new business idea.
  5. Note down hourly productivity – How many tasks did you accomplish in the last one hour?

“An addiction to distraction is the end of your creative production.” – Robin Sharma

Enhance Your Concentration Power

What keeps your mind stick to a task until it is sufficiently completed, is your ability to concentrate. If your concentration power is stronger, distractions will not bother you. You have to sharpen your power to focus by consistent practice. Meditation is a great way to improve your ability to work on a single task for a long time. If possible make meditation a part of your daily routine. It will keep your mind silent and give it the power to resist distractions.

If you cannot find time to meditate at the start of the day, it is advisable to do a one minute meditation every hour or every time you get that urge to check social media or chat with a friend. This will bring back your attention to what you have to do instead of what you want to do.

Here is the best way to improve concentration power: Take Regular, Refreshing Breaks.

One of the major keys to staying charged up for work is to take regular breaks. Continuously working for hours is only going to make you feel more tired. Instead, take planned breaks and do what you like the most during those breaks.

Of course, you should check your phone to be aware of any urgent messages or calls; remember to take refreshing breaks rather than just keep scrolling through that never-ending newsfeed. Rejuvenate your senses by reading some motivational stuff, watching an inspiring video, taking a walk in the lobby or having a non-work related chat with a colleague, to recharge your batteries and get back to work with even more focus and passion.

One technique utilized and propagated by productivity gurus is the Pomodoro Technique. It is the practice of working in chunks of 25 minutes and then taking a break of 5 minutes. After 4 such sessions, you can elongate the break time to 15-20 minutes.

Have an Organized Mindset

Adopt an organized mindset towards all aspects of your life. Keep clearing irrelevant mails, adding e-mail addresses to spam, organizing all your photos and videos on one drive, keeping all your documents accessible from one place, etc. Keeping your life clutter free and organized right from your shoe-rack to your locker, empowers your ability to spend your time in a disciplined way.

Even when it comes to online browsing, keep it limited to certain topics rather than just browsing and then jumping from that topic to all the related topics. Note down the ideas you would like to research on a specific day instead of randomly browsing through a plethora of topics.

Also, jot down the points which you found useful. Set aside an hour or 30 minutes of time for this. If you feel the need to read that lengthy but useful article, then save it under bookmarks, instead of swaying and spending more than the planned  time on it.

These seemingly little, yet practical things, help you adopt the same approach towards your day and work.

“By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination.” – Christopher Columbus

It is a fact that technology has taken up major share of our life, however, it would be a misjudgment to regard it as bad. If maneuvered the right way, it can help us live a more disciplined life. It is a boon but if we let it rule us instead of us ruling on it then it may eat up most of our focus and productive time of our day.

What distractions do you feel take most of your time? What steps you have taken up to put the brakes on them, apart from just whining about them? Ponder over it, take a proactive approach, and share your action plan with us by commenting in the section below.

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