Stony Brook University

New Tech Blog: Max On Media
Max On Media is a technology-based blog written by Burke Liburt. Burke Liburt is the co-founder and CMO of SynchroPET, a biomedical device company that has licensed patented nuclear imaging technologies from Brookhaven National Laboratories. He has developed marketing strategies at television groups (Dun & Bradstreet/ ABC Television) and at his own multi-media company. Read Max On Media Now!
Stony Brook Innovation Center Blog

What, Me Worry?

Jan 06 2015

The most helpful topic for an Innovation Center blog would seem to be examining whether innovativeness can be instilled in people the way installing computer programs enables us to do different things, and if so, how is it downloaded, or learned?  Is there a single Skill Set underpinning all the other attributes that are identifiable in the majority of innovators, short of the few savants floating around, and even there?  Do innovations like the light bulb and Internet arise out of nowhere, or evolve as species do: putting similar things together again and again, and how is that done? 

“Out of the earth to rest or range ...
 The unknown passing through the strange.”

                        John Masefield

I figure if all I see from where I’m standing on my front porch are three homes, and watch the sunrise and sunset from my bedroom through the broad woodlands and meadows surrounding them, I’m doing okay.  It took some doing to land on my feet, but if the likes of T.S. Eliot could bemoan, “In short, I’ve been afraid,” who am I to be ashamed that I also was more often than I’d’ve liked; perhaps even more often than not.
60 Minutes recently ran an episode about Mindfulness,  The Wikipedia article describes it as "the intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of one's attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment, which can be trained by meditational practices derived from Buddhist anapanasati."  As with Emotional Intelligence, which perhaps laid the groundwork for Mindfulness’ rise to prominence, I wouldn’t contest a word about it; just taking for granted that people will benefit from it completely, deeply, vividly, and clearly with Mindfulness alone.  Who can argue with the benefits of being Mindful?  The Question is what do you do with it: why be in the moment, and not make the most of it?  
What could conceivably facilitate or maintain that more than formulating what is going on around and inside oneself, on an ongoing basis, the way a scientist sets up an apparatus to examine something’s properties or processes, or an artist prepares the components of a composition, then go about experimenting or creating?  We may only live in the present, but the past and future are there.  Its foreground and background are part of it.   Even making the most of athletic performance, the quintessential mainstay of the moment, is a function of comprehending the characters, actions, settings, and time frames simultaneously, instantaneously.  Willie Mays summed up baseball as “Hitting the ball where they aren’t.”
Why would anyone think that the laws of science prevail everywhere, whether we notice them or not, but those of art only exist in paintings, symphonies, poems, and other art forms? 

Every job—not to mention managing or just listening to people doing them—can be stressful.  Chiropractors often draw an analogy between physical flexibility and emotional and behavioral flexibility, as if merely telling people that they need to be less rigid will make them less rigid.  Acquiring emotional and intellectual flexibility, so people gain self-composure and feel relaxed, is a function of learning to readily associate what is going on around and within you with things like it in the world at large.  What is far more interesting, which I don’t think any chiropractor—or orthopedist, for that matter—ever asked is whether failing to put events in perspective, so that someone is essentially triangulating between themself and two points, may not only cause emotional, but physical inflexibility and actually place someone’s spine out of alignment, just as someone is unlikely to reach their destination aiming at a single point, instead, as no seaworthy navigator would do.  An orthopedist, whom I met at JFK waiting for a flight, agreed with my premise.  Since he was here from a foreign country to speak at NYU Medical Center, I have to surmise that he is an internationally recognized authority.
Separating the flux of reality onto its basic components—characters, actions, settings, and time frames—and beginning to formulate them anecdotally, our mind innately recognizes similarities between them and things like them, as it does when we dream.  Pressure X Volume divided by Temperature remain constant in every environment: business meetings and classrooms, as well as ice trays and balloons.  Anecdotes and analogies expand the Volume of the matter at hand, enabling people to literally remain Cool under Pressure, without emotions clouding their thought processes.  Someone is only as able to deflect pressures and remain flexible—or mindful—in what they think and do as they are in how they think.           
Stress is caused when the pressure that is normally distributed throughout an object, the way cables hold up a suspension bridge, becomes focused on one part of the object that is not strong enough to withstand the pressure upon it alone, like a back or foot, inventory report or bank account.  Emotional stress works the same way, and furthermore clouds the rest of our mental processes, so we are not only more likely to make personal and professional mistakes, but mistakes distributing our weight while engaged in physical activities, for example, and even unconsciously doing so in the many ways that our body functions involuntarily, in the way we breathe and our internal organs do what they do, causing illnesses of all kinds. 
In addition to naturally distancing someone from events and their stressfulness, making them a third party narrator of the events, the anecdotal process and analogies objectify our subjective experience of those events, transforming them into something other than themselves, with which we can more readily grapple, just as scientists can more readily examine something's properties by creating an apparatus for doing so, and the analogies furthermore enable someone to examine the matter at hand in terms of something else, with which they are more familiar, removing the stressfulness of the moment. 
“It’s Crying Time Again,” posted November 9th, has a quote from one of Freud's great disciples, Alfred Adler, who is credited as the originator of the whole self-actualization movement, by way of Abraham Maslow.  In it, he postulates that healthy people use their day dreams to accomplish goals, whereas neurotic people get lost in their fictional world and do not find their way back to reality.  When I was invited to speak at the Institute for Rational Emotive Therapy, one of their staff asked me afterward why I never became a psychologist, myself, to which I could only answer—to knowing nods—that I never would have learned what I just taught them.  Where I depart from Adler's deduction is that it makes vastly more sense that people become healthy and stronger, more resistant to negative impulses and influences, and resilient to frustrations and setbacks, when they know how to formulate their situation as a separate entity in their mind from it, then improve that separate entity as an anecdote with analogies to the world at large, and apply how they improve it to the original matter at hand, rather than supposing that emotionally healthy people naturally acquire the skills to do that.  Conversely, it also makes more sense that simply not knowing how to do those things makes everything that someone does more frustrating and stressful, which eventually makes them neurotic, rather than supposing that people somehow fail to learn those skills because they are neurotic.
The next group meeting, start off by doing nothing for a whole minute, just to give everyone a sense of how very long a minute actually is and how much can be done in one.  Have your colleagues count for each other the number of times they ask, "Okay?"  "All right?" or "Y' know what I mean?" and examine what was being said at the time, so they can see whether that is really just a habit, or a symptom that they are leaving out pieces of the puzzle, so naturally their listeners aren't getting the picture.  When people leave out composition elements, they are stuck in their own point of view, and ignore those of other people.  The stress on them isn't as obvious as if you sawed off one leg of their chair, but it's there, nonetheless.          
Thoreau commented, "We do not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us.”  Someone may have earned the fare to get somewhere in a day or two, but they still have to be there the whole your through.  Furthermore, moving from place to place at unnatural speeds makes BEING anywhere matter less.  Time, Space, and Energy are interrelated in many ways besides Einstein's equation. 

Stony Brook University Innovation Center, Stony Brook, NY 11794-3775

Phone: 631.632.7171
Fax: 631.632.8181