2012: Don’t Predict, Influence

By December 30, 2011, 3:10 PM EST

How human behavior responds to five key challenges will determine our future in a bigger, more-complex world

It’s hard enough to explain the past. But predicting the future? The older I get, the less I bother listening to anyone who claims to know what stock markets, world politics, or even the weather will be like more than an hour in advance. (I still do carry a naïve belief that sometime in the future, the Cubs will win a World Series, but we all need religion.)
That said, I am highly confident that one thing will demand more and more of our attention in 2012 and beyond: human behavior. Our economic, planetary, and even personal well-being rely more heavily on our everyday actions than on advances in science and technology. The most critical need today is what I call “accelerated diffusion of competence” to influence human behavior. In other words, we need many more people who are much better at helping people change for good. Consider the following indisputable trends and what role our behavior can play in influencing them.
1. Economic growth in mature economies will be sluggish. This comes as bad news for business owners and leaders who depend on a rising tide to lift their individual boats. But it presents a huge opportunity for those who know how to engage employees in ways that differentiate their enterprises from those of competitors.
For example, a custom-software house we’ve worked with in Detroit is growing at double-digit rates, while others in the area are declining just as fast. The key to its success? The founder created a culture of unsurpassed quality and customer intimacy from the ground up. The culture-shaping starts with interviewing job candidates in teams. Once aboard, employees don’t even get their own computers; management assigns them to work in twos; each pair shares a computer. Employees are also trained to raise sensitive issues with teammates and to hold others accountable. This distinct culture enables the company to surpass customer requirements, on time and on budget.
2. Chronic health problems will keep driving up health-care costs. Heart disease, obesity, diabetes, addictions, and a host of other conditions will afflict an ever-greater percentage of the population. Research will make it more obvious that while therapies can mitigate some of these problems, our capacity to shape our health habits offers the greatest promise of well being.
We’ve known for years that as much as half of what determines our health status lies in our own hands. Maintaining strong relationships, for example, inoculates against disease, strengthening our immune systems. Diet and exercise also serve as major predictors of acquisition and recovery from disease. While we thrill at the discovery of a new pill that might benefit 10 percent to 20 percent more patients than a placebo does, we stare at our feet (if we can see still them) when reminded that influencing our own behavior can have two to three times that effect. We’ll never improve our level of personal well-being—and subsequently reduce health-care costs—until we gain greater competence at influencing our own choices.
3. Technology will continue to feed impulses more than values. Smartphones, tablets, MP3 players, GPS-enabled gadgets, and ubiquitous Internet access will continue to feed and exploit the natural human proclivity toward immediate gratification. In 2012, we’ll become more acutely aware of the degree to which our lives feel more virtual than real—and our relationships, pleasures, and aspirations seem shorter-term and shallower.
While some will try to stave off these effects by taking Luddite oaths to eschew technology, others will create solutions that help us make electronic tools our slaves, not masters. Offerings that allow us to shut off texting in moving cars (Text Zapper, for one) or voluntarily block our own impulsive access to IMs and Internet surfing (Freedom and Anti-Social, for example) signify our realization that we are behaving in ways we don’t like. As the gap between gratification and happiness gets larger, entrepreneurs will step in and provide solutions.

4. Emerging economies’ growth will separate leaders from mere outsourcers. For the past couple of decades, business leaders have profited from a race to the bottom of the pay scales. Outsourcing or offshoring to the lowest-wage geographies has increased profit margins. In 2012 and beyond, as emerging economies see wages rise, the need for real leadership will increase. Ever-lower staff wages will no longer cut it for management. Rather, creatively engaging employees in producing value will prove the only sustainable solution. Leaders who lack this capacity will find it hard to compete.
5. Global challenges will continue to exceed the influence of national leaders. We see increasing evidence that climate issues, weaknesses in the international financial system, security threats, and other global issues exceed the capacity of any national-level political leaders to solve them. We’ll need unprecedented levels of international cooperation to create a world that serves our universal interests. This kind of cooperation will never happen until new kinds of leaders emerge—people who can imagine institutional forms and global-level influence strategies.
In the closing months of World War II, leaders like Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Henry Morgenthau who had this capacity organized institutions such as the UN, IMF, and World Bank, which developed shared ownership and solutions to cross-border problems. These leaders created international behavioral norms for human rights and economic citizenship. We need a comparable level of influence to take on the world-scale problems of today. It all starts with the simple human willingness to think beyond borders.
I’m not sure what will happen in 2012. But it’s clear to me that our destiny is contingent not on creating new stuff, but on influencing new habits—ones that create the health, wealth, happiness, environment, markets, and global relationships we all want most. That leadership begins with you. May we all make this kind of progress in 2012.

Joseph Grenny is co-author of three New York Times bestsellers: Influencer, Crucial Conversations, and Crucial Confrontations. His new book, Change Anything, made its debut in April 2011. Grenny is a consultant to corporations and co-founder of VitalSmarts, a firm that specializes in corporate training and organizational performance.

The Future

Life in 2050

Human Civilisation in 2057

The First Time Machine

Scientific Evidence to prove that God is real

The GDV camera photographs auras and spirits

2012 Predictions

2012 Explained

Sandra Noble, executive director of the Mesoamerican research organization FAMSI, notes that “for the ancient Maya, it was a huge celebration to make it to the end of a whole cycle”. She considers the portrayal of December 2012 as a doomsday or cosmic-shift event to be “a complete fabrication and a chance for a lot of people to cash in.”[22]
Intepretation ; Remember The Tower of Babel, how God struck mankind with different languages and drive them towards all four corners of the earth? The time has come where all cosmic forces will gather all mankind to remember God to celebrate the coming of the New Age.
My Wedding will be held in Nanning, China on 21st December 2012.

Beyond 2012

Earthquake Watch

Tsunami Watch

How to live without Money

The Ark of Covenant

Confirmation of the Higgs boson on 21.12.2012 where the Secrets of the Universe revealed, entering a New Age where the Knowledge of God is everywhere

The Higgs boson, nicknamed the God particle,[1] is a hypothetical massive elementary particle that is predicted to exist by the Standard Model (SM) of particle physics. The Higgs boson is an integral part of the theoretical Higgs mechanism. If shown to exist, it would help explain why other particles can have mass.[Note 2] It is the only predicted elementary particle that has not yet been observed in particle physics experiments.[2] Theories that do not need the Higgs boson also exist and would be considered if the existence of the Higgs boson were ruled out. They are described as Higgsless models.
If shown to exist, the Higgs mechanism would also explain why the W and Z bosons, which mediate weak interactions, are massive whereas the related photon, which mediates electromagnetism, is massless. The Higgs boson is expected to be in a class of particles known as scalar bosons. (Bosons are particles with integer spin, and scalar bosons have spin 0.)
Experiments attempting to find the particle are currently being performed using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, and were performed at Fermilab’s Tevatron until its closure in late 2011. Some theories suggest that any mechanism capable of generating the masses of elementary particles must become visible at energies above 1.4 TeV;[3] therefore, the LHC (colliding two 3.5 TeV beams) is expected to be able to provide experimental evidence of the existence or non-existence of the Higgs boson.[4]
On 12 December 2011, the ATLAS collaboration at the LHC found that a Higgs mass in the range from 145 to 206 GeV was excluded at the 95% confidence level.[5] On 13 December 2011, experimental results were announced from the ATLAS and CMS experiments, suggesting that if the Higgs boson exists, it is probably limited to a range of 115–130 GeV at the 3.6 sigma level (ATLAS) or 117–127 GeV at the 2.6 sigma level (CMS), and indicating possible scope for a 124 GeV (CMS) or 125-126 GeV (ATLAS) Higgs. As of 13 December 2011, a joint estimate is not available.[6][7][8][9]

Understanding the Brain and the Nervous system

You’re in the middle of a meeting at work, but your mind keeps drifting to the parent-teacher conference you have tonight … and the car you have to pick up at the shop on the way home … and how you wish you hadn’t skipped lunch because the rumbling in your stomach is driving you nuts. Then, suddenly, you’re back in the moment, hoping nobody noticed your brief “departure.”
Body Basics: Brain and Nervous System
It may seem as if your brain is always on the go. And it is. The brain not only controls what you think and feel, how you learn and remember, and the way you move and talk, but also many things you’re less aware of — such as the beating of your heart, the digestion of your food, and yes, even the amount of stress you feel. Like you, your brain is quite the juggler.

Anatomy of the Nervous System

If you think of the brain as a central computer that controls all bodily functions, then the nervous system is like a network that relays messages back and forth from the brain to different parts of the body. It does this via the spinal cord, which runs from the brain down through the back and contains threadlike nerves that branch out to every organ and body part.
When a message comes into the brain from anywhere in the body, the brain tells the body how to react. For example, if you accidentally touch a hot stove, the nerves in your skin shoot a message of pain to your brain. The brain then sends a message back telling the muscles in your hand to pull away. Luckily, this neurological relay race takes a lot less time than it just took to read about it.
Considering everything it does, the human brain is incredibly compact, weighing just 3 pounds. Its many folds and grooves, though, provide it with the additional surface area necessary for storing all of the body’s important information.
The spinal cord, on the other hand, is a long bundle of nerve tissue about 18 inches long and ¾ inch thick. It extends from the lower part of the brain down through spine. Along the way, various nerves branch out to the entire body. These are called the peripheral nervous system.
Both the brain and the spinal cord are protected by bone: the brain by the bones of the skull, and the spinal cord by a set of ring-shaped bones called vertebrae. They’re both cushioned by layers of membranes called meninges as well as a special fluid called cerebrospinal fluid. This fluid helps protect the nerve tissue, keep it healthy, and remove waste products.

All About the Brain

The brain is made up of three main sections: the forebrain, the midbrain, and the hindbrain.

1. The Forebrain

The forebrain is the largest and most complex part of the brain. It consists of the cerebrum — the area with all the folds and grooves typically seen in pictures of the brain — as well as some other structures beneath it.
The cerebrum contains the information that essentially makes us who we are: our intelligence, memory, personality, emotion, speech, and ability to feel and move. Specific areas of the cerebrum are in charge of processing these different types of information. These are called lobes, and there are four of them: the frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital.
The cerebrum has right and left halves, called hemispheres, which are connected in the middle by a band of nerve fibers (the corpus collosum) that enables the two sides to communicate. Though these halves may look like mirror images of each other, many scientists believe they have different functions. The left side is considered the logical, analytical, objective side. The right side is thought to be more intuitive, creative, and subjective. So when you’re balancing the checkbook, you’re using the left side; when you’re listening to music, you’re using the right side. It’s believed that some people are more “right-brained” or “left-brained” while others are more “whole-brained,” meaning they use both halves of their brain to the same degree.
The outer layer of the cerebrum is called the cortex (also known as “gray matter”). Information collected by the five senses comes into the brain from the spinal cord to the cortex. This information is then directed to other parts of the nervous system for further processing. For example, when you touch the hot stove, not only does a message go out to move your hand but one also goes to another part of the brain to help you remember not to do that again.
In the inner part of the forebrain sits the thalamus, hypothalamus, and pituitary gland. The thalamus carries messages from the sensory organs like the eyes, ears, nose, and fingers to the cortex. The hypothalamus controls the pulse, thirst, appetite, sleep patterns, and other processes in our bodies that happen automatically. It also controls the pituitary gland, which makes the hormones that control our growth, metabolism, digestion, sexual maturity, and response to stress.

2. The Midbrain

The midbrain, located underneath the middle of the forebrain, acts as a master coordinator for all the messages going in and out of the brain to the spinal cord.

3. The Hindbrain

The hindbrain sits underneath the back end of the cerebrum, and it consists of the cerebellum, pons, and medulla. The cerebellum — also called the “little brain” because it looks like a small version of the cerebrum — is responsible for balance, movement, and coordination.
The pons and the medulla, along with the midbrain, are often called the brainstem. The brainstem takes in, sends out, and coordinates all of the brain’s messages. It also controls many of the body’s automatic functions, like breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, swallowing, digestion, and blinking.

How the Nervous System Works

The basic functioning of the nervous system depends a lot on tiny cells called neurons. The brain has billions of them, and they have many specialized jobs. For example, sensory neurons take information from the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin to the brain. Motor neurons carry messages away from the brain and back to the rest of the body.
All neurons, however, relay information to each other through a complex electrochemical process, making connections that affect the way we think, learn, move, and behave.

Intelligence, learning, and memory. At birth, the nervous system contains all the neurons you will ever have, but many of them are not connected to each other. As you grow and learn, messages travel from one neuron to another over and over, creating connections, or pathways, in the brain. It’s why driving seemed to take so much concentration when you first learned but now is second nature: The pathway became established.
In young children, the brain is highly adaptable; in fact, when one part of a young child’s brain is injured, another part can often learn to take over some of the lost function. But as we age, the brain has to work harder to make new neural pathways, making it more difficult to master new tasks or change established behavior patterns. That’s why many scientists believe it’s important to keep challenging your brain to learn new things and make new connections— it helps keeps the brain active over the course of a lifetime.
Memory is another complex function of the brain. The things we’ve done, learned, and seen are first processed in the cortex, and then, if we sense that this information is important enough to remember permanently, it’s passed inward to other regions of the brain (such as the hippocampus and amygdala) for long-term storage and retrieval. As these messages travel through the brain, they too create pathways that serve as the basis of our memory.

Movement. Different parts of the cerebrum are responsible for moving different body parts. The left side of the brain controls the movements of the right side of the body, and the right side of the brain controls the movements of the left side of the body. When you press the accelerator with your right foot, for example, it’s the left side of your brain that sends the message allowing you to do it.
Basic body functions. A part of the peripheral nervous system called the autonomic nervous system is responsible for controlling many of the body processes we almost never need to think about, like breathing, digestion, sweating, and shivering. The autonomic nervous system has two parts: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems.
The sympathetic nervous system prepares the body for sudden stress, like if you see a robbery taking place. When something frightening happens, the sympathetic nervous system makes the heart beat faster so that it sends blood more quickly to the different body parts that might need it. It also causes the adrenal glands at the top of the kidneys to release adrenaline, a hormone that helps give extra power to the muscles for a quick getaway. This process is known as the body’s “fight or flight” response.
The parasympathetic nervous system does the exact opposite: It prepares the body for rest. It also helps the digestive tract move along so our bodies can efficiently take in nutrients from the food we eat.
The senses. Your spouse may be a sight for sore eyes at the end of a long day — but without the brain, you wouldn’t even recognize him or her. Pepperoni pizza sure is delicious — but without the brain, your taste buds wouldn’t be able to tell if you were eating pizza or the box it came in. None of your senses would be useful without the processing that occurs in the brain.

  • Sight. Sight probably tells us more about the world than any other sense. Light entering the eye forms an upside-down image on the retina. The retina transforms the light into nerve signals for the brain. The brain then turns the image right-side up and tells us what we are seeing.
  • Hearing. Every sound we hear is the result of sound waves entering our ears and causing our eardrums to vibrate. These vibrations are then transferred along the tiny bones of the middle ear and converted into nerve signals. The cortex then processes these signals, telling us what we are hearing.
  • Taste. The tongue contains small groups of sensory cells called taste buds that react to chemicals in foods. Taste buds react to sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. Messages are sent from the taste buds to the areas in the cortex responsible for processing taste.
  • Smell. Olfactory cells in the mucous membranes lining each nostril react to chemicals we breathe in and send messages along specific nerves to the brain— which, according to experts, can distinguish between more than 10,000 different smells. With that kind of sensitivity, it’s no wonder research suggests that smells are very closely linked to our memories.
  • Touch. The skin contains more than 4 million sensory receptors — mostly concentrated in the fingers, tongue, and lips — that gather information related to touch, pressure, temperature, and pain and send it to the brain for processing and reaction. 

Things That Can Go Wrong With the Brain

Because the brain controls just about everything, when something goes wrong with it, it’s often serious and can affect many different parts of the body. Inherited diseases, brain disorders associated with mental illness, and head injuries can all affect the way the brain works and upset the daily activities of the rest of the body.
Problems that can affect the brain include:
Brain tumors. A tumor is a swelling caused by overgrown tissue. A tumor in the brain may grow slowly and produce few symptoms until it becomes large, or it can grow and spread rapidly, causing severe and quickly worsening symptoms. Brain tumors in children can be benign or malignant. Benign tumors usually grow in one place and may be curable through surgery if they’re located in a place where they can be removed without damaging the normal tissue near the tumor. A malignant tumor is cancerous and more likely to grow rapidly and spread.
Cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is the result of a developmental defect or damage to the brain before or during birth. It affects the motor areas of the brain. A person with cerebral palsy may have average intelligence or can have severe developmental delays or mental retardation. Cerebral palsy can affect body movement in many different ways. In mild cases of cerebral palsy, there may be minor muscle weakness of the arms and legs. In other cases, there may be more severe motor impairment — a child may have trouble talking and performing basic movements like walking.
Epilepsy. This condition is made up of a wide variety of seizure disorders. Partial seizures involve specific areas of the brain, and symptoms vary depending on the location of the seizure activity. Other seizures, called generalized seizures, involve a larger portion of the brain and usually cause uncontrolled movements of the entire body and loss of consciousness when they occur. Although the specific cause is unknown in many cases, epilepsy can be related to brain injury, tumors, or infections. The tendency to develop epilepsy may be inherited in families.
Headaches. Of the many different types of headaches, the most frequently occurring include tension headache (the most common type), caused by muscle tension in the head, neck, and shoulders; migraine, an intense, recurring headache with an unclear cause; and cluster headache, considered by some to be a form of migraine. Migraines occur with or without warning and may last for several hours or days. There seems to be an inherited predisposition to migraines as well as certain triggers that can lead to them. People with migraines may experience dizziness, numbness, sensitivity to light, and nausea, and may see flashing zigzag lines before their eyes.
Meningitis and encephalitis. These are infections of the brain and spinal cord that are usually caused by bacteria or viruses. Meningitis is an inflammation of the coverings of the brain and spinal cord, and encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain tissue. Both conditions may result in permanent injury to the brain.
Mental illness. Mental illnesses are psychological and behavioral in nature and involve a wide range of problems in thought and function. Certain mental illnesses are now known to be linked to structural abnormalities or chemical dysfunction of the brain. Some mental illnesses are inherited, but often the cause is unknown. Injuries to the brain and chronic drug or alcohol abuse also can trigger some mental illnesses. Signs of chronic mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia may first show up in childhood. Mental illnesses that can be seen in younger people include depression, eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia nervosa, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and phobias.
Head injuries. Head injuries fit into two categories: external (usually scalp) injuries and internal head injuries. Internal injuries may involve the skull, the blood vessels within the skull, or the brain. Fortunately, most childhood falls or blows to the head result in injury to the scalp only, which is usually more frightening than threatening. An internal head injury could have more serious implications because the skull serves as the protective helmet for the delicate brain.
Concussions are also a type of internal head injury. A concussion is the temporary loss of normal brain function as a result of an injury. Repeated concussions can result in permanent injury to the brain. One of the most common reasons kids get concussions is through sports, so it’s important to make sure they wear appropriate protective gear and don’t continue to play if they’ve had a head injury.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: October 2010

There is a lack of social mobility

Posted by on March 6, 2012 23 Comments
~ By: Kumaran Pillai ~
Instead of welcoming the government’s benevolence of helping the downtrodden, citizens are outraged by the government’s lack of empathy. For the most part, the ‘noise’ or the Internet chatter has not helped them in getting a handle on what has irked us. All we hear is their constant mantra that they are doing enough and in their minds, they are probably doing more than what a prudent government should do. One TOC commentator using the moniker ‘voice out’ said that he (or she) is concerned that PAP is becoming more populist instead. 

If they are purely addressing the issue of being poor without taking into account of social mobility or the lack of it, then the government is probably leaning towards populism. From all the arguments put forth, it seems to me that the government is only addressing the issue of housing and not talking about how to alleviate the plight of those who are earning $1000 to $2000 a month. The $60,000 housing grant is helpful, but what is alarming is that, their assumption that the poor would be able to pay-off their housing loan in 20 to 30 years and they will be able to realize a modest appreciation in the property values at the end of it, sufficient to see them through their retirement, is the point of my contention.

If their model is based on the historical performance of properties, then the beneficiaries are those who already own multiple properties. And their model also assumes that the property market will continue to give the kind of returns that would address the retirement needs of those in the $1000 income range. The downside of this model is that, there is an odd chance that the property market might crash at the time they retire. Chances are this group will have to still scavenge our hawker centres and food courts for tin cans and cardboards to make a living twenty years down the road.

Looking at the upside, having a stellar property performance itself poses other problems. New home buyers would find it more difficult to buy larger houses and more would have to resort to smaller units and grants. Obviously, when property markets appreciate the grant quantum will also need to be adjusted upwards accordingly. So, more monies will have to be allocated to support the poor and the newcomers to the property market. It would really be the case of ‘show me the money!’

Typically, governments raise the taxes, draw from their reserves, and borrow from World Bank (or other banks) or issue government bonds. Of course, the smarter thing to do is to grow our economy, given that we will only need this money sometime in the future. Growing our economy would in turn ensure a larger tax base to support the communities in the fringes. It seems to me that the government will continue with its current growth plans to meet our future financial/budgetary needs.

There is also a concentration risk for those in the lower income groups, in other words, the financial risk of putting all the eggs in one basket. There is little or no diversification of assets to start with. Investing all their savings in a single property would mean that they are foregoing and precluding themselves from other economic activities and investment options. There is an opportunity cost to the individual and a cost to the society at large for we have to come up with more programmes to support them in the future.  

The only hope for those in this income group is when one of the offspring breaks the mould and gets a better paying job. Otherwise, they are basically stuck in a poverty trap and have no opportunity to participate in our economic growth or progress.

Short of telling the government what to do, what I would like to see is how the government would address the issue of social mobility and what programmes they are going to have in place to help these people move up the social ladder faster. There have been many suggestions, such as, minimum wage, adult skills development programme and such. I will leave out the arguments for minimum wage for now. It is a separate topic which merits an article of its own. The basic principle behind it is based on the principle that all participants in the economy are given an equal chance to participate in the economic progress. (Some argue that it is a left leaning policy and does not necessarily address the issue of social mobility) 

The proverbial saying of, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” comes to my mind. The $60k grant is like giving the poor the fish. What we need is egalitarianism of rights that every individual in our society has a fair and equal opportunity to partake in our economic progress.  I leave you with a question, have the poor in our nation become a forsaken lot? 
What is “Real Affordability”?

If you want to purchase that 2rms HDB $100K flat with a monthly salary of $1K with a repayment of 30 years, be prepared to have at least two meals a day on 40cents maggie mee with some veggie for a lifetime, travel on bus instead the mrt, depend on Medifund for subsidised healthcare, Workfare payout for skills upgrading, GST coupons and utility rebates, or else you will not be able to make ends meet, so is there social mobility?
If you do not teach a Man to fish, provide him a job for a lifetime, and help him build his nest, can he afford to pay for your “affordable” housing? What is a truely “Asset Enhancement” scheme when it does not even form the basis of fundamental economics?
– Contributed by Oogle.