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Forge
A publication from Medium on personal development.

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A Yale professor’s personality test shows your networking style

Photo: 10'000 Hours/Getty Images

In work and in life, relationships are everything. Most of us know this intuitively. What most people don’t know, however, is that each of us is sitting on a simple, straightforward way to strengthen all our relationships in ways that are beneficial not only to us, but also to the people with whom we’re connected, and to the people they’re connected to, as well. All it takes is a little self-knowledge.

As a professor of organizational behavior at the Yale School of Management, my research on social dynamics has led me to identify three main types of networkers: the expansionist…


To make a real impact, you need a monastery of the mind

Photo: Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

We’re overly devoted to execution. We rush frantically to fulfill hastily chosen ends; we exhaust ourselves blindly in the name of sketchy goals; we chain ourselves to schedules, timelines, and performance targets. We focus on execution at the expense of the final product, which was the point of all the effort to begin with.

Our bias toward execution makes evolutionary sense; our ancestors needed to act quickly to survive. But in our day and age — where we are surrounded by acute choices as to what to do with our lives, aiming for happiness rather than basic survival — we…


Trading my smartphone for a flip phone improved every aspect of my life

Photo: PhotoAlto/Michele Constantini/Getty Images

My son was born in 2006. The iPhone was born in 2007. They have been competing for my attention ever since.

I always knew it was wrong to steal a moment to look at my phone instead of my son. But I thought I had plenty of moments.

And then my son was 12.

My time as the father of a small child had come to an end. What had I given my device that I could have given my son? Like the average American, about four hours a day. Every day. Two waking months out of every year. Two…


Creativity needs a balance of order and chaos

Photo: Caspar Benson / Getty

One of my favorite creative tools is a kitchen timer. I set the timer for a few minutes — for a sprint through really boring paperwork or to get started on a big creative project — and then I press start. I give myself a window to work through. After that, I can choose to stop, and sometimes I do. But many other times, I keep going.

My creativity comes from chaotic energy. But left unchecked, the chaotic energy is a breeding ground for obsession, fixation, and compulsiveness. So I do what project managers do: I employ “timeboxing.” …


This isn’t a gap year. It’s your life, and it counts.

Photo: flashpop/Getty Images

This year, at age 43, I decided to take up roller-skating. My neighbor and I put on disco music and skate in her alley as part of what we’ve called Quarantine Skate Club. I’m getting pretty good at turning, and even skating backwards, while laughing very hard at myself.

But sometimes, when I’m pulling off my skates, I find myself wondering: Is this okay? Should I feel guilty about enjoying life when things are hard? At a time of mass grief, is it selfish to think about our own happiness?

In these moments, I try to recall an insight I…


How to work with your limitations, not against them

Woman stepping through an opening in the wall, head not visible, her leg in the air.
Woman stepping through an opening in the wall, head not visible, her leg in the air.
Photo: Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

Our society does a great job at inspiring, encouraging, and some­times even demanding that we dream big and aim for uniqueness. I’ve fallen for it, too. I spent years of my life pushing myself to think as originally as I possibly could whenever I was brainstorming new art projects. But what I seem to learn over and over again is that the grand, super-original ideas I have, the ones that are truly outside the box, are also so far outside my realm of possibil­ity that they’re almost useless.

So, at a cer­tain point, I began to resist the idea of…


They’re hiding in plain sight

Photo: Ashley Corbin-Teich/Getty Images

The following is modified from an interview with Aaron James, the author of Assholes: A Theory and a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Irvine. His responses have been edited and condensed for clarity and context.

Jean-Francois Marmion: Let’s start with the basics. What, exactly, is an asshole?

Aaron James: An asshole is a man, or more rarely a woman, who accords himself special advantages in his social life and feels immune from reproach. He’s the guy who cuts in line at the post office, granting himself a privilege that’s normally reserved for pregnant women and emergencies. In…


Your inner voice is your North Star — if you can hear it

Black woman with eyes closed as subway passes by.
Black woman with eyes closed as subway passes by.
Photo: Westend61/Getty Images

Over three decades of service in the Army, including commanding four companies and a training battalion, the Major General Dee McWilliams was faced with a terrible choice in 2003.

To earn her third star, McWilliams was asked to leave her posting in Germany to return to the Pentagon, as it geared up for a war in Iraq based on what it was later determined were false reports of Saddam Hussain’s cache of weapons of mass destruction.

“I knew I’d be going back to Rumsfeld’s Pentagon, which was gearing up for a war that I felt would be a quagmire,” she…


Honing your message is essential

Coworkers talking about a project together.
Coworkers talking about a project together.
Photo: Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

It may seem like a no-brainer that you must have a point before you try to make one, but you’d be surprised by how many people talk and talk without first thinking through what they’re trying to communicate.

To have impact, you want to propose something of value, says Joel Schwartzberg, a strategic communications trainer, author, and professional speechwriter. “People won’t remember the specific words you’ll say, but they will remember what you meant… if you have a point,” Schwartzberg says.

Here’s Schwartzberg’s framework for finding your point and making it land with your audience.

Figure out what you want to say

Remember, a point is an…


These behaviors can totally derail productive discourse

Photo: Morsa Images/Getty Images

Conflict between human beings is inevitable. Unfortunately, in our zeal to be right, and in exercising our right to scream, many of us destroy relationships, relinquish credibility, and become ineffective to the people we most want to influence.

The solution is not a magic formula but a conscious shift in our relationship with conflict itself. It means learning skills of healthy disagreement, understanding that we can hold fast to our convictions while allowing others to sharpen us and our ideas. It also means engaging impasse in ways that help us truly see each other and let ourselves be seen.

Here…

Forge

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