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The Success Formula Stephen Hawking Taught Us

The Success Formula Stephen Hawking Taught Us

How would you react if you were told that you had motor neuron disease (ALS) at the age of twenty and had just a few years to live? That was Stephen Hawking in 1963. Yet, not only is he still alive in 2014, but he revolutionized physics for half a century. Stephen Hawking is an inspiration because he transformed our understanding of the universe. He has also succeeded in making science popular as witnessed by his best selling book A Brief History of Time. To say that Stephen Hawking’s life and work has been a success is an understatement. Here are 8 lessons from his extraordinary life and achievements that can inspire us.

1. He has used technology to overcome his disability

“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” – Stephen Hawking

As Prof. Hawking explains in the video below, the power of technology to transform lives, communicate ideas which lead to great discoveries is truly astounding. In his own case, he cannot speak and uses a voice synthesizer as we hear on this video. He has made extensive use of computer technology and the Internet in his research.

2. He refused to let his disability halt his research

“My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit as well as physically.” – Stephen Hawking

Just after he had been diagnosed and with a only a few years to live, according to his doctors, he fell in love and married Jane Wilde. They had three children. During the same period, he flung himself into his work and research as a physicist. He was determined that his disability was not going to be an obstacle.

“Theoretical physics is one of the few fields in which being disabled is no handicap – it is all in the mind.”- Stephen Hawking.

3. He is always curious

“Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.”- Stephen Hawking

Hawking once remarked that he has a childlike curiosity in that he is always asking questions with ‘why’ and ‘how’. A perfect example of this is his desire to travel in space.

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4. He has never lost his sense of humor

“Keeping an active mind has been vital to my survival, as has been maintaining a sense of humor.”-Stephen Hawking.

He has always joked about his zany appearances in The Simpsons, Futurama, Stargate Atlantis and The Fairly Oddparents and Star Trek. Watch the video with John Oliver where his great sense of humor is very evident.

5. He stands by his principles

“No one undertakes research in physics with the intention of winning a prize. It is the joy of discovering something no one knew before.” – Stephen Hawking

During his lifetime, Stephen Hawking has been concerned about the lack of funding and mismanagement of funding for scientific research and education in the UK. When he was offered a knighthood, he turned it down on principle.

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6. He never gives up

“It is no good getting furious if you get stuck. What I do is keep thinking about the problem but work on something else. Sometimes it is years before I see the way forward. In the case of information loss and black holes, it was 29 years.” – Stephen Hawking

Just a few months ago, Stephen Hawking released a new study on the nature of black holes which has puzzled scientists since the early 20th century. He is determined not to give up in spite of criticism and controversy. This will not stop him and it is an inspiration for everyone striving for success.

7. He values time as a precious resource

“I have so much that I want to do. I hate wasting time.” – Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking is famous for his research on the definition and nature of time and how time began. He concludes his study on time by remarking that it will be impossible to turn back the clock. The message is clear that we can make money but never get back our time, so we should use it wisely.

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8. He shares his knowledge

“I hope I have helped to raise the profile of science and to show that physics is not a mystery but can be understood by ordinary people.” – Stephen Hawking

Hawking firmly believes that knowledge is to be shared. His ambition was that his books would be widely read and that they would be available at airport bookstalls. That wish has certainly come true as witnessed by the enormous success of his books. The credit is all due to him because he has succeeded in making astrophysics and artificial intelligence accessible to everyone, not just for intellectuals and scientists. He always tells the story that his publisher warned him that equations and formulae in his books would put people off and that his readership would be reduced by 50% for every equation in the book. That is why there is only one, E = mc², in A Brief History of Time. But one equation did not stop 10 million people from buying it! There is a lesson there for all of us. If we do not share our knowledge by communicating it clearly and effectively, we are losing a golden opportunity. What have you admired most about Stephen Hawking? Let us know in the comments.

Featured photo credit: Hawking – Egy zseni élete / Lwp Kommunikáció via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

In business, in social relationships, in family… In whatever context conflict is always inevitable, especially when you are in the leader role. This role equals “make decisions for the best of majority” and the remaining are not amused. Conflicts arise.

Conflicts arise when we want to push for a better quality work but some members want to take a break from work.

Conflicts arise when we as citizens want more recreational facilities but the Government has to balance the needs to maintain tourism growth.

Conflicts are literally everywhere.

Avoiding Conflicts a No-No and Resolving Conflicts a Win-Win

Avoiding conflicts seem to be a viable option for us. The cruel fact is, it isn’t. Conflicts won’t walk away by themselves. They will, instead, escalate and haunt you back even more when we finally realize that’s no way we can let it be.

Moreover, avoiding conflicts will eventually intensify the misunderstanding among the involved parties. And the misunderstanding severely hinders open communication which later on the parties tend to keep things secret. This is obviously detrimental to teamwork.

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Some may view conflicts as the last step before arguments. And they thus leave it aside as if they never happen. This is not true.

Conflicts are the intersect point between different individuals with different opinions. And this does not necessarily lead to argument.

Instead, proper handling of conflicts can actually result in a win-win situation – both parties are pleased and allies are gained. A better understanding between each other and future conflicts are less likely to happen.

The IBR Approach to Resolve Conflicts

Here, we introduce to you an effective approach to resolve conflicts – the Interest-Based Relational (IBR) approach. The IBR approach was developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 book Getting to Yes. It stresses the importance of the separation between people and their emotions from the problem. Another focus of the approach is to build mutual understanding and respect as they strengthen bonds among parties and can ultimately help resolve conflicts in a harmonious way. The approach suggests a 6-step procedure for conflict resolution:

Step 1: Prioritize Good Relationships

How? Before addressing the problem or even starting the discussion, make it clear the conflict can result in a mutual trouble and through subsequent respectful negotiation the conflict can be resolved peacefully. And that brings the best outcome to the whole team by working together.

Why? It is easy to overlook own cause of the conflict and point the finger to the members with different opinions. With such a mindset, it is likely to blame rather than to listen to the others and fail to acknowledge the problem completely. Such a discussion manner will undermine the good relationships among the members and aggravate the problem.

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Example: Before discussion, stress that the problem is never one’s complete fault. Everyone is responsible for it. Then, it is important to point out our own involvement in the problem and state clearly we are here to listen to everyone’s opinions rather than accusing others.

Step 2: People Are NOT the Cause of Problem

How? State clearly the problem is never one-sided. Collaborative effort is needed. More importantly, note the problem should not be taken personally. We are not making accusations on persons but addressing the problem itself.

Why? Once things taken personally, everything will go out of control. People will become irrational and neglect others’ opinions. We are then unable to address the problem properly because we cannot grasp a fuller and clearer picture of the problem due to presumption.

Example: In spite of the confronting opinions, we have to emphasize that the problem is not a result of the persons but probably the different perspectives to view it. So, if we try to look at the problem from the other’s perspective, we may understand why there are varied opinions.

Step 3: Listen From ALL Stances

How? Do NOT blame others. It is of utmost importance. Ask for everyone’s opinions. It is important to let everyone feel that they contribute to the discussion. Tell them their involvement is essential to solve the problem and their effort is very much appreciated.

Why? None wants to be ignored. If one feels neglected, it is very likely for he/she to be aggressive. It is definitely not what we hope to see in a discussion. Acknowledging and being acknowledged are equally important. So, make sure everyone has equal opportunity to express their views. Also, realizing their opinions are not neglected, they will be more receptive to other opinions.

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Example: A little trick can played here: Invite others to talk first. It is an easy way to let others feel involved and ,more importantly, know their voices are heard. Also, we can show that we are actively listening to them by giving direct eye-contact and nodding. One important to note is that never interrupt anyone. Always let them finish first beforeanother one begins.

Step 4: Listen Comes First, Talk Follows

How? Ensure everyone has listened to one another points of view. It can be done by taking turn to speak and leaving the discussion part at last. State once again the problem is nothing personal and no accusation should be made.

Why? By turn-taking, everyone can finish talking and voices of all sides can be heard indiscriminantly. This can promote willingness to listen to opposing opinions.

Example: We can prepare pieces of paper with different numbers written on them. Then, ask different members to pick one and talk according to the sequence of the number. After everyone’s finished, advise everyone to use “I” more than “You” in the discussion period to avoid others thinking that it is an accusation.

Step 5: Understand the Facts, Then Address the Problem

How? List out ALL the facts first. Ask everyone to tell what they know about the problems.

Why? Sometimes your facts are unknown to the others while they may know something we don’t. Missing out on these facts could possibly lead to inaccurate capture of the problem. Also, different known facts can lead to different perception of the matter. It also helps everyone better understand the problem and can eventually help reach a solution.

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Example: While everyone is expressing their own views, ask them to write down everything they know that is true to the problem. As soon as everyone has finished, all facts can be noted and everyone’s understanding of the problem is raised.

Step 6: Solve the Problem Together

How? Knowing what everyone’s thinking, it is now time to resolve the conflict. Up to this point, everyone should have understood the problem better. So, it is everyone’s time to suggest some solutions. It is important not to have one giving all the solutions.

Why? Having everyone suggesting their solutions is important as they will not feel excluded and their opinions are considered. Besides, it may also generate more solutions that can better resolve the conflicts. Everyone will more likely be satisfied with the result.

Example: After discussion, ask all members to suggest any possible solutions and stress that all solutions are welcomed. State clearly that we are looking for the best outcomes for everyone’s sake rather than battling to win over one another. Then, evaluate all the solutions and pick the one that is in favor of everyone.

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