Archive for December, 2018

WSJ: The Pessimism Reflex

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

In the Review section of the November 17/18 edition of the Wall Street Journal is a feature article titled “The Pessimism Reflex” by Matt Ridley. I found this particularly interesting as to how it relates to positivity, framing and true facts – topics we bring up in the YCISL workshop program.

Even in my last wiki entry – the one commenting on an article on “problems” with philanthropy – highlighted thinking that had a framing issue and lacked positivity. Makes me think of Grumpy Old Men.

With Mel Robbin’s mental handbrake analogy, it is too easy to be pessimistic. Pessimism is the handbrake that can easily reinforce the self-notion that there is something holding us back. And just like Malcolm Gladwell’s point about associating with greatness, there is also a tendency to associate with deprivation (the grass is always greener…).

And we can also understand the impact of pessimism through Alison Ledgerwood’s point about getting stuck in the negative.

We know in the adult world that pessimistic news goes around faster than optimistic news, and that spin and distorted reality becomes a part of the stream of norm – so it becomes an essential skill for youth leaders to train their senses to receive and feel pessimism, but to relay with positive actions and communications.

Stanford News: Stanford scholar addresses the problems with philanthropy

Thursday, December 6th, 2018

Through my LinkedIn feed, I read a Stanford News article on philanthropy written by Melissa De Witte (December 3, 2018). The article relates to a book written by a Stanford Political Science faculty. I thought I would comment since we are trying to apply YCISL thinking to philanthropy.

First, I believe we have different definitions of philanthropy. The book author seems to be referring only to monetary donations that qualify for the benefits of tax deduction. That’s like looking at someone’s face and picking something to be critical of – even if we generally do not make a fuss over the whole. We should be praising any philanthropy on any scale and of any shape. In YCISL, we wish for philanthropy to be encouraged and be a part of natural human behavior. As is our youth program style, we view philanthropy without monetary aspect and instead look to grow it with intrinsic motivation. That makes it accessible and a key component of personal development.

“But philanthropy is generously tax subsidized…” You say “subsidized”, I say benefitting society. Remember that deductible donations can only go to qualifying organizations and so such money flow is just cutting out the middle man (and we know that is a good thing where it is important to make money work efficiently).

“Philanthropy often comes with strings attached.” That’s if you only know philanthropy as what makes news headlines. The word “often” should be replaced with “occasionally” or “sometimes” because my view is that of most people engaging in (monetary value) philanthropy, but in modest amounts – and they are definitely without strings. Think of the Salvation Army Kettle (and similar set-ups) or used clothing donations or school fundraisers or even freeway off-ramp panhandlers. In terms of frequency and emotional payback, I think the no-strings attached philanthropy dominates.

The bottom line question is “Would society be better off without philanthropy (as it is today)?” My “glass half full” answer is “obviously!”

If I had nothing. Starting Over: A Reflection

Thursday, December 6th, 2018

Idea is to reflect on what you would be focused on if you were starting over and afresh. Many people in the developed and developing world lead cluttered lives and emotional luggage. Our attention is divided and we spend much of our mental energy sorting useful information from garbage.

Can we come up with an exercise to reflect on our priorities and imagine what it would be like to have nothing so that everything is a potential goal?