What’s NoT, and why?

NoT is a way to share what I’ve learned with three types of people

1. “Healthy health-nuts”. I try to translate biological mechanisms into common language for people seeking nutrition guidance beyond “balance, moderation, and variety”. Reliable nutrition guidance is hard to find, and there are plenty of bloggers in this space. I aim to provide a higher level of reliability by basing recommendations on plausible mechanisms, rather than preliminary research or Dr. Oz episodes. I do not provide guidance to anyone managing a sickness of any kind. Doctors are trained to treat disease, and I’m not anyone’s doctor. I simply write for people willing to spend time, money, and/or energy to prevent disease or to optimize health in a specific area (e.g. longevity, learning, or inflammation), especially those who don’t have time to read research or learn the science for themselves.

2. “Self-improvers”. You’re in this group if you seek new habits and techniques to increase your overall effectiveness. This group relentlessly questions assumptions–both their own and any that are commonly-held. These are the meditators with fine-tuned morning routines, a Kindle full of non-fiction, and a cup full of yerba maté.

3. “People managers”. I don’t just mean typical managers in a business with employees reporting to them. This group includes anyone given responsibility to deliver results by directing the work of specific people. “Results” includes supporting the organization’s objectives and the development of those people, who are known as the manager’s “direct reports”. Thus, managers fitting this definition are found in non-profits, government, schools, and many other settings beyond what we normally consider “business”. Furthermore, much of what makes a manager effective translates into other aspects of human achievement (e.g. coaching sports, teaching, parenting, even being managed). That’s why I consider people management to be the Archimedes lever of any organization.

What’s in the health section–“Effective Health”

We’re all asking “What should I eat?” but the most effective answer is “it depends…” While we know certain foods are healthier than others, what’s “healthy”–even beyond diet–largely depends on our own goals, situation, and many other factors which we deem important for ourselves. Further, the advice we’re fed on what’s healthy isn’t always as well-supported as the author suggests. We’ll explore how to critically evaluate health advice we see on TV, internet, etc. In doing this, we’ll develop the ability to recognize quality health guidance vs guidance that’s less reliable.

Mainly it’s the idea of being effective when it comes to health. This means a few things:

– Effective health is deciding to spend the right amount of time for YOU on being healthy. Each of us is most effective when we spend the most time on our unique strengths, which means it’s unreasonable to expect every person to keep up with every bit of research on nutrition. Contribute to society in a way that lets you leverage your individual skills–teaching, carpentry, art–whatever it is that you do really well, spend the most time on that and share your product with us. Those of us who enjoy reading nutrition studies will share the fruits of our labor with you.

– Effective health is relying on multiple sources of info on which to base our decisions. If (like most people) you don’t have time to read nutrition studies, then find a few sources of info you trust and spend appropriate amounts of time keeping up to date. Then, make your decision based on what you find.

– Effective health is a big effect caused by individual decisions that build up over time. Most of us make the decision to eat at least once every day (except fasting days). Don’t have the mindset of “I need to eat healthier starting today“. That’s a long-term commitment to significant change, and the word “healthier” refers to the long-term, unhealthy past, which doesn’t matter (consider it a sunk cost). Instead, think of health one decision at a time–“I’m hungry right now…what am I going to eat?” It’s one decision, every single time, and only concerns the recent past and near future in deciding how to balance our diet.

Each post is structured is this way (for now):

First–the conclusion, behavior, or recommendation. This first part of each article will highlight the most practical application of all the research we have. It’s the recommended behavior that the current research as a whole leads to. This way, the blog is effective even if readers don’t have time to read the whole article.

Second–my general interpretation of the subject/research. A little more detail, a little reference to the science, but still inadequate for those who–for some reason–enjoy spending time reading studies just to read “…warrants further investigation.” at the end.

The rest–basically all the conclusions of the research including important statistical results; most of the data will be found here, in the bottom-half of each article. Through an institutional login, I have access to full-text versions of studies, though many times the abstract includes useful info. Citations to every source are in footnotes at the end of the article linked to the actual studies.

What’s in the effectiveness section–“Personal effectiveness”

However you define what success is for yourself, there are probably ways to be more successful by focusing on the right things. In my experience, what the “right” things are isn’t always obvious, and this is especially true for my definition: # of goals hit divided by # of goals set.

Fortunately, you’re ahead of the crowd with just a few minutes of thinking about what really matters. This practice usually helps me to filter distractions from levers, and myths from truths. I’ll share the mistakes I’ve made and lessons from mentors covering all sorts of topics–prioritization, relationships, professional life, travel, developing metaskills, and much more. I will not filter topics usually, since doing so would imply I’m qualified to advertise some guidance as trustworthy, which I’ll explicitly deny. I’d rather offer initial, half-thought-out reactions to situations than try to appear as though I know how life works. In this way, I’ll have something here to which I can return and correct down the road!

What’s in the people management section–“What do great managers do?”

Would you call your manager good? Bad? What makes him or her good or bad? Most importantly, is your boss helping you to contribute and or to grow to your full potential? Considering our contributions add value to society, wouldn’t it be worthwhile for our bosses to improve their ability to enable us to perform at our peak potential?

To me, managing people is the most valuable skill set to develop. I’d put money down that as a professional classification, “manager of others” is the #2 most common in the world, only behind “individual contributor”. Imagine the impact if whatever it took to manage people well was broadly known and taught. I especially mean taught to the not-college-educated managers that, I’d argue, make up the huge majority of managers in the world? I also use the term “manager” as broadly as possible. Thus, the importance of managing people extends outside the typical world of for-profit “bosses” and into charities, hospitals, governments, and schools. Any organization’s value to society is directly linked to the capability of its managers.

So I’m setting out to answer that question, “What do great managers do?”  

Why NoT?

Simply put: NoT supports my life purpose.

Complexly put: I chose awhile ago not to drift through life, reactive and purposeless. Having identified that purpose (to enable others), I was able to consider how to best achieve it. To answer that question I figured I should at least consider any areas in which I have unique interest, experience, and skill. Those areas are health, personal effectiveness, and people management. I blog because it assists me in enabling others to be healthy, to be effective, and to know what good managers of people do.

While I’m far from a credible source on either of them, they’re three topics I could spend an entire afternoon discussing. That’s not to say I have an afternoon’s worth of wisdom to share. Rather, I’m just energized by seeking to understand those areas of life, which affect us all and everyone we love. While universal, I learned that these topics contain non-obvious nuances of “doing them well”. Thus, if anything, the purpose of this blog is to share the lessons I’ve learned in case they might enable others to achieve their own definition of success; in essence, to identify what matters about what matters.

 

Please let me know if you have suggestions for me that will contribute to this purpose!