Parse the world your way

Parsing is analysing something into its component parts and then finding their relationships.
It’s something we do instinctively, often automatically. We use process to shortcut thinking about, for example, our morning routine, how we drive a car, the dreaded monthly meeting to discuss results. Before we step off the pavement to cross the road we instinctively (in a left-hand drive country) look to our right to make sure the way is clear.

These simple versions of parsing are essential for survival. It becomes more complex when we have to make decisions about how we handle someone important to us in our work or non-work life. When you sit down with a colleague to have a business chat you consider what you want to communicate to them. If you are well trained you will also consider what they may want to say to you. You are parsing the coming meeting.

These local parsings are important. The repercussions may be immediate. You may get fired or promoted if you get the parsing wrong or right. Do you know how much of your parsing for even a simple thing like a meeting with your boss is ‘auto’ and how much is original thought? If you don’t, you should. Try working that out.

Ahead of any meeting you should ask yourself:

# What sort of frame of mind will the other person (people) be in? If possible, figure out why.
# What do you WANT to be the outcome of the meeting and what do you EXPECT it will be?
If there is a difference, examine the gap.
# How can you close that gap?
# How can you make your points forcefully, politely, dramatically? A Kalashnikov rifle or a set of seductive questions. Getting this balance right is key to winning your case.
# How often will you review the mood, attitude and frame of mind of the other party / parties?

The rule is Parse Before, Parse During, Parse After.

So much for meetings – and all the other short-term but vital matters you must attend to. Whole Life is a somewhat different matter. Here we are dealing with strategy rather than tactics. Good strategies enable you to survive the bumps and knocks of commerce and of life in general. Those are going to continue for the rest of your life. Having a good strategy and a decent philosophy will see you handle them like a professional breaking in a young horse. Few better analogies.

Know the personality of the horse, know what you want it to do, know the limits of the power you are prepared to use, proceed within that parsing. You are not a horse but your reactions, power, determination, adaptability are all as good as those of a horse – your adaptability even better. At any stage of life you may have to break yourself in, just as a horse has to be ‘broken in’.

Bizarrely, the questions for the short term and those for the long term coincide pretty well. Look at them again and think of them in the context of the next ten years. Over that time your behaviour will determine your looks. If 1% of the money spent on beautifying faces was spent on beautifying behaviours we would be a handsome world today. Good facelifts result from good behaviour lifts.

So for success and beauty parse the world your way.

As Alan Kay, computer scientist, said: Our job is to remind ourselves that there are more contexts than the one that we’re in — the one that we think is reality.

Several people have asked for a recorded version of The Daily Paradox. Not yet quite enough to justify my doing it. If you think you might want to play a recording on your way to work, during a particularly boring meeting or in the bath, please let me know and I will add your name to the list of those demanding a voice over version.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *