The following is an excerpt from The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead, in which author Charles Murray discusses words with meanings that have changed — and not always for the better.
Disinterested used to mean uninterested.
The meaning of disinterested is “free of bias and self-interest.” It is essential that a judge be disinterested, for example. Disinterested does NOT, repeat NOT, mean “lack of interest” or “uninterested.” I put this so emphatically because we’re not talking just about proper usage. Disinterest used in its correct sense is on its last legs—I’ve been appalled to see it misused in articles in the Washington Post and other major publications. English does not have another word that conveys the meaning of disinterested as economically. If we lose the distinctive meaning of the word, we have measurably degraded our ability to express ourselves in English.
Back in 2010 The New York Times published a list of 50 fancy words that most frequently stump their readership.
The New York Times 50 Fancy Words
(defined and used)
1. Inchoate: just begun and so not fully formed or developed
I am glad your inchoate proposals for integrating the company were not accepted this time, thus saving us face. Read More…
There are two ways to eat a cake.
You can eat it in small pieces.
Or gobble the whole thing down.
Most of us would like to gobble, whether it comes to cake or learning
And like cake, learning needs to be tackled in small portions. Small portions not only help you learn, but help you learn a lot faster. Here are three core reasons why:
1) The sleep factor
2) The tiredness factor
3) The mistake factor.
Let’s start with the sleep factor
When you learn something, the brain tries to make sense of it. And then it goes about doing whatever it’s supposed to do. Then you go to bed. You might get just 6 hours of sleep, but in that time your brain is processing parts of your day. And if you’ve learned a new skill, there’s a good chance it’s doing just that—processing your new skill.
My niece, Marsha is just 8 (at the time of writing this article)
And she comes across to my office to learn to implement a concept called Bal-Vis-X. It’s a combination of skills that make students sharper and smarter than ever before. But here’s what happens during our exercise.
At first, Marsha struggles with a new exercise (there are over 300 exercises in the entire program). And we don’t force the issue. She just goes home and goes to sleep. Then she comes back for the next session. In between those two sessions, nothing has changed. The only difference is the sleep factor. Yet, almost immediately you can see the difference.
And the same applies to your learning
You can learn just about anything. And then it’s time to sleep. The very next day there will be a difference. Whether you will be able to discern the difference or not isn’t relevant, there will be a difference, nonetheless.
Over weeks and months you’ll be able to see a chunky difference. And sleep, believe it or not, plays a massive role. So yes, turning off that stupid TV (yes, stupid) will make you a lot smarter. But then, can’t bulk learning make you smarter? Surely the brain can absorb a lot more information at one go. Yes it can, but there’s a problem called tiredness that steps right in.
2) The tiredness factor
Bulk learning is plainly ineffective when compared with daily learning—and you don’t need a research scientist to tell you that. If you’re flirting with a new skill, the brain is under tremendous pressure. It’s trying to absorb what’s being written, work out the context and—because it’s a skill—apply it to your job or your life. Think about the amount of glucose that sucks up from your body. Now multiply that learning over 3 hours, or a day, and what you’ll find are drop outs.
It would seem that you’ve heard it all, and yet unless you have a phenomenal ability, there’s a chance you lost little chunks past the first ten minutes of instruction. As the learning advances, you start losing bigger chunks.
Now admittedly this depends on your level of skill. Let’s say you already know a lot about Photoshop, and you’re sitting in a Photoshop seminar, your brain doesn’t strain too much. But the moment some new features come up, your brain has to do a fair bit of work. The more facts you have to remember the more tired it gets and dropouts are inevitable. It’s only when you see the work of others, working on the same exercise, that you realise how many subtleties you’ve missed.
When you do daily learning, you get to re-examine what you’ve learned—and what you’ve missed. And this brings us to the third part: The mistake factor.
3) The mistake factor
If you do something every day, you learn from new mistakes every day. If you bulk your learning the mistakes are all a blur. But daily mistakes get highlighted. And not just your mistakes, but in a group, the mistakes of the entire group. There’s more than a good chance that a group of just 5-7 people will make as many as 5-15 mistakes in a single day. This is because everyone interprets information differently, and executes differently.
So you get to learn—and more importantly, revise what you know. And what you don’t know. Bulk learning is not as efficient, because the mistakes are made en masse, and the teacher may not be overly keen to point out 35 mistakes in one day. Over a week, 35 mistakes are just 5 mistakes a day. Every mistake gets its own spotlight and hence you get the chance to eliminate those mistakes systematically.
And yet most of us believe in bulk learning
And this is because we’re in a hurry. Yet, the best way to learn something, is to slow things down considerably. It takes most people about 2-3 years to become extremely proficient at a skill like writing or drawing. Yet with the right teacher and the right system this can be shortened to just 6-8 months. And that’s because the pace slows down considerably. You detect and fix more errors. And what is talent, but the systematic reduction of errors?
You’ve done the gobble-gobble learning and you know the results.
Now try the daily learning. Better still, try it in a group.
And prepare to be amazed.
Photo credit: http://homebrewedchristianity.com
Project management is a specialty, and it has its own language. Resistance is futile.
- Scope – It’s what has to be done. Always too general for some and too specific for others. Never right.
- Resources – Funding and people authorized for the project. Never enough and always in the wrong denominations.
- Schedule – How much time you have to get it all done. Never enough.
- Project Manager – You. The person responsible for everything, and in control of nothing.
- Sponsor – The one that wanted it in the first place. The one that shudders when you walk in because you always bring a problem, and give them way too many details.
- Customer – The group that want things their way.
- Vendor – The other group that wants things their way.
- Users – People addicted to the old way.
- Escalation – A process that defies gravity, and moves problems uphill.
- Documentation – The last task in a project, or later.
- Flowcharts – Cubicle art.
- Team – Your best friends. The group that, when asked who caused a problem, forms a circle and each person points to the left.
- Work Group – An oxymoron.
- Oxymorons – People that take more than their share of oxygen from a project.
- Project Plan – A deliverable assigned to the most annoying person on the project, who doesn’t recognize his or her work is done after the project has started and is going according to plan.
- Almost Done – Where you are after Day 1 of the project. What you say when the “80% done” answer quits working.
- RFI – Request for Information. A request for a customized marketing document.
- RFP – Request for Proposal. A request to take a monkey off a customer’s back.
- RFQ – Request for Qualifications. A request for a customized marketing document. A good source of boilerplate information for the RFP.
- RFQQ – Adds a price quote to the RFQ. Generally from a vendor that has too little information from a customer that has too little understanding. Binding.
- RFK – An important reminder that even the best project managers can find themselves in a bay of pigs.
- Proposal – A document of sweeping generalizations.
- Testing – What development is called after the development schedule has passed.
- Testing – What the end-users do when the testing schedule has passed. Sometimes called Post-implementation Support.
- Process Reengineering – Today’s processes, turned sideways.
- KPIs – Key Performance Indicators. Objective measures of failure, most often advocated by opponents. Never tracked.
- CSFs – Critical Success Factors. An early view of the blunders you will certainly make. Always tracked, but never called CSFs.
If this sounds familiar, you are an experienced project manager, undoubtedly overworked, underpaid and not appreciated. Get a dog.
Photo credit: http://www.study-habits.com
“Knowledge isn’t going to track you down and force itself upon you. “ Professor Lang
“No outcome, no discovery, is really an accident; it is the product of the effort invested in the process.”
There’s no doubt about it — exams are the pits. Being stuck in the library for hours, bored out of your mind is the absolute worst. Oh, and trying to get motivated to study instead of Facebooking? Forget about it. As much as you want to skip studying and play Call of Dutyinstead, you’ve got to snap out of it and hit the books. If the pressure of crunch time isn’t keeping you focused or getting you excited about philosophy or molecular biology, then check out these seven great movie quotes to get you through exams.
The incredibly wise Yoda can teach us all a lesson or two about doing our best to succeed, especially when it comes to exams! Just like Yoda tells Luke Skywalker to either do something right or don’t do it at all, you should either study hard for your exams or not even bother if you’re only going to “try.”
“Remember, kid, there’s heroes and there’s legends. Heroes get remembered, but legends never die. Follow your heart kid, and you’ll never go wrong.” (The Sandlot)
Children of the ’90s know and love The Sandlot dearly. Just the thought of the movie can make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but it’s the wise words of Babe Ruth that make it even more awesome. So when you’re stuck in the library studying and wondering if you’ll ever make it in the history textbooks, remember what “The Great Bambino” said about heroes and legends and following your heart, kid.
Feeling stupid because you can’t remember the rules of exponents or who won World War I? Well, Forrest Gump would tell you, “Stupid is as stupid does.” This Southern saying means that no matter how stupid you or others think you are, your actions are the only thing that really matters. So, if you don’t study for your exams, but still expect to get all A’s, you might be, well, stupid.
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off)
Take it from wiseguy Ferris Bueller; he knows a thing or two about living life to the fullest. OK, so you might not be able to play hooky or get out of taking your exams, but as soon as you’re done with the grind of finals, get outside, dine at an upscale restaurant, go to a baseball game, jump on a parade float, and just have fun, the Bueller way.