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Lucio's journal

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Power is like a horse: you measure it at the finish line

Bel's recent journal entry nudged me to publish this.

On the exact same day, I had a very similar experience.

Back in Berlin after a cool motorbike trip, I was standing in line for groceries checkout.
The (tail)bag I had with me is a strange one: it has a long slit and you can only really open when it's laying flat on a surface (picture here):

Motorrad Hecktasche Bagtecs X30 Soziustasche erweiterbar 20-30Ltr schwarz

Knowing the culture/attitude and being able to read body language, I knew she was a "grumpy player" and knew my options:

  1. Ask her to help me and have her pull a power move on me: Place the bag at the end of the checkout, and ask the lady if she could move my groceries straight inside of the bag as I unloaded them from the cart. That would mean to "risk" that she'd complain, refuse, or be rude
  2. Don't ask, "spare myself" a power move, and waste time doing the extra step of work: Waste much more time unloading the groceries, have her place them on the exit side of the checkout, and then awkwardly load them again inside the bag

That's the power of the grumpy player by the way: they leverage people's fear of confrontation, or fear of being (socially) aggressed, so they can maintain some scraps of power, control, and independence -a very selfish goal and value-taking goal in their case-.
The solution is often the same: ask anyway.
Let them be the asshole and refuse, at the very least (and then you can potentially escalate). Don't self-reject yourself.

Note that her task requires only barely a little more effort, but saves everyone quite some good time -I win and I'm a happier customer, all the other customers in line win, the shop wins... Only at a very small cost for her. But if she was doing half a good job, it should be no cost to her and she should be happy to be able to help a customer-.

So I asked her if she could please help me and place the grocery straight inside the bag.
She first asked me "what" in a loud and annoyed tone, her way of trying to make me backtrack and drop my request. I repeated my request instead while placing my open bag at the end of the checkout -"assuming the compliance".
She rolled her eyes, exhaled to publicly display her exasperation, and proceeded to do it with the most annoyed attitude.

I added that "this way we save time" to partially re-empower myself, stay in the lead, and also see if she'd bite and take a step back.

She didn't.
So if you look at the exchange between me and her only, then she disempowered me.

But if you look at the full picture, then I "won" in spite of the disempowerment because I got what I wanted, and saved time -the ultimate and most important goal-.

This is to remind ourselves that it's often better to "take the risk of being disempowered" -barely a risk with an antifragile ego- but focus on the ultimate goal, rather than focusing on the immediate power moves, but losing sight of the ultimate goal.

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Ali ScarlettJohn FreemanKavalierBelPower Duck
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Waiting and observing... And Assessing

A few times I said that whenever I spot a power move or a potential power move I just make a mental note and observe.

Indeed, we also said often here that one of the most important benefits of power awareness is not so much in always doing and reacting, but in learning to understand people and characters.

This one to me is a power move, potential beginning of a game:

With "I will go" he leaves me no option to decide for a different solution -slightly disempowering-.

And "good quality solution" with "good quality components" makes me think of a setup for a bigger billing :).

There is also a previous yellow flag with a recording that went in PU (he made a joke/one-up about the billing increasing for another issue he found and fixed in the previous appointment).
But there is also a green flag since he came on Easter and helped me out big time/

So, so far, it still does not require any intervention.

If the bill is not that high, then it won't break the bank.
And if indeed it's a good quality solution, then this is "fair marketing" and I'm cool with a higher price for quality.

In brief: many games need nothing from you, just simple awareness.

Then you can keep monitoring and see if it's something you need to intervene (or a relationship you need to break).
And if it's "not too bad", then you never need to do anything, just never get too close to that person (you want the people who are closest to you to be "full-green folks").

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Ali ScarlettJohn FreemanKavalierBelPower Duck
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The "free thinkers" and the pleasure of open-minded people

Yesterday I went to a group of "free thinkers", which you may define as "anti-woke/feminist" group.

I was looking forward to the experience.
Both to see the dynamics, to see if there were any cool and smart folks, and also wanted to throw in the mix my idea that the patriarchy is not wholly made up and see how they'd react -you may expect a group like this to be the opposite of woke, so I was wondering if they'd reject the concept a priori, based on their ideology, which basically would mean they weren't free thinkers, but just ideologues that happened to be specular to the main culture-.

The beginning was interesting as all newly forming groups are: everyone's looking around and "careful".
And everyone's looking at the organizer for leadership.
The organizer makes the world of difference and almost every time there is an organizer who doesn't lead, you can see the group sputtering, looking around, and generally being awkward vibe and people not having a good time.
I tried to support the leader, but when you do that, you're in a difficult spot: people start looking at you for directions, but you don't want to become the leader or "steal the leadership", so you must be careful to support, rather than take over.

The discussion was also super interesting, including the dynamics.

At a certain point a girl said that "men are more competitive".
A guy interjected saying that "it was not true, they just had a different way of competing" and then he added looking at her and another girl in the group: "you two have been very competitive with each other the whole time".

That was a mini social bomb.

Say that in any average group, and you're going to see the ripple effect.

So I expected that the girls were going to defend, deny, or at least be taken aback.
And instead, they didn't bat an eye and fully accepted the comment -that's how people who are in "debate mode" should play the game, and these either knew how to play the game, or truly had an antifragile ego. Either way, it was impressive-.

Thinking it was too good an opportunity not to thread-expand and make a joke, I jumped in to laugh and compliment the guy for his note and for the courage of bringing the two girls as an example. One of the girl then added "yeah, mic drop". To which I replied by calling back a previous line "yeah, mic drop, now you can go to the kitchen girls" (I was calling back myself saying that any conservative guy who says or thinks girl are better at home is the patriarchy).
I thought it was a risque joke that might bomb and instead... Everyone laughed, especially the two girls -of course laughing is also about power dynamics, so it's not only about open-mindedness, but also that they accepted me as a respect-worthy member of the gorup-

Generally speaking, it was really a pleasure being able to talk about anything, without being labeled, attacked, or marginalized. Just sharing and talking to exchange ideas, have one's own beliefs challenged, and learn more.
People introduced themselves with their names, what they believed in, and what they wanted to discuss.
Nobody said or even asked others "where are you from", which also tells you quite a bit about people.

It also made me reflect on how important the "open-minded" and "antifragile" -or, at least, not overly touchy- traits truly are.
And how cool that there exist plenty of open-minded people in the world, and that you can always find a social circle -or partner, or business partner, or "debate partners", or whatever you want- with people that truly like and enjoy.

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Settling for a "good 2nd" - failing the "magic of thinking big"?

We wanted to do something together with a couple of cool neighbors.

I proposed go-karting.

Since we were just 3, we shared the track with another group.

Two of them were amateur rally racers and knew the track (one of them was a bit chubbier though, and that weighs in karting).
One of them showed up with his own gears, including fireproof suit and headrest (bit of an overkill TBH).

We did a race simulation including qualifying, and I placed 2nd.

The first guy was going a bit faster than I did, but not by a huge margin.

But in my mind, considering the two knew the track and were experienced racers, getting in front of one of them was already good.
So now starting #2 in the grid, I focused more on defending that #2 (and ahead of my neighbors, that also counts :D), than in going for the win.

Once the race started, I had a chance to overtake the 1st for a couple of curves, but instead focused on defending, and avoiding crashes.

In hindsight, I think that mindset precluded the only small chance I had to finish first.
It was a small chance, but to keep it alive, I should have first thought it was possible to win, then attacked from the very beginning, and in case I was successful -certainly possible-, then try to hold him off for the whole race.

All in all, low odds and higher risks of crashing, but not impossible.
And in case of crashing, I could still have made up positions, and made for a potentially funnier race.

Overall, I think the "Magic of Thinking Big" is BS.... Unless you couple it with a strong focus on the foundations of skills, strong assessment of reality -rather than "magic" and wishful thinking- and solid strategies.

However, once you have those foundations, then thinking big is helpful and it's what allows you to at least have the possibility of enjoying the huge win/upset.

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John FreemanKavalierBelleaderoffun
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Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on September 14, 2022, 11:23 am

Settling for a "good 2nd" - failing the "magic of thinking big"?

Edit:

I wanted to clarify this because I think this strategic thinking can be generalized.

My initial approach was great for life-important situations.

Such as:

  • When you can easily maintain a very good situation (8 on a 0 to 10 scale)  and going to the next level is high-risk (<20% odds of succeeding) and high potential loss (>20-30% loss), then maintain your very good situation

However, it didn't apply to that race because the downsides risks were small.

I don't finish second?
Big whoops, who cares.

So in front of that "no real downside risks", the fun, learning, and potential upsides of making a memorable night and exploit were work the risks.

To generalize:

  • When the downside risks are small but the rewards for the next level are high, you can go for it, even if the chances of pulling it off are low
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John FreemanKavalierBelleaderoffun
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It also made me reflect on how important the "open-minded" and "antifragile" -or, at least, not overly touchy- traits truly are.
And how cool that there exist plenty of open-minded people in the world, and that you can always find a social circle -or partner, or business partner, or "debate partners", or whatever you want- with people that truly like and enjoy.

I imaginary answered this one. I was sure I answered.

Yes, yes and yes! Very powerful realization. It allows for a deeper connection and feeling understood.

(one of them was a bit chubbier though, and that weighs in karting).

Was that a pun? Hahaha

Overall, I think the "Magic of Thinking Big" is BS.... Unless you couple it with a strong focus on the foundations of skills, strong assessment of reality -rather than "magic" and wishful thinking- and solid strategies.

Yes, I have a thread on visualisation in store.

When the downside risks are small but the rewards for the next level are high, you can go for it, even if the chances of pulling it off are low

This goes right into my notes. Important strategic thinking for success and winning. As shown in your example it's this mindset that allows to go for the remaining last % to get to the top.

It think it also might tie to self-sabotage as the mindset for victory is: "Go towards the reward" rather than: "Avoiding pain/discomfort" (here of losing for instance).

One must also think that one deserves to win and that winning is desirable (I don't think it's an issue in this particular situation).

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Lucio Buffalmano

To connect with different people use the "nothing's a big deal" attitude

I was out with my brother this evening.

You couldn't get two different guys (starting from the hair :D):

For example, my brother has never left Italy, barely even left the region -in a bigger country like the US it would be a bit more than never crossing state lines-.

Yet, connecting and having that feeling of "just chilling" was no issue.

A big chunk of that is having a "whatever" attitude towards any difference. Especially the differences that one -or "most people"- may interpret as "big" and in "better" or "worse".

The key is not to pretend that nothing is a big deal. But to talk and be as curious about the big deal as you actually are, but with the attitude of "whatever".

So when I asked him "you never took a plane eh" and he said "no", I replied, "wow, crazy, what are you waiting for".
And then, after a few exchanges on the topic, proposed he's got an easy option: to come visit me. That's the cherry on the pie that, no matter the differences, we're close and I'm happy to see him. Which is the only thing that should truly matter. But that can only be the only thing, when and if you can adopt a "whatever attitude" about any (surface) difference.

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Ali ScarlettJohn FreemanKavalierBel
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Two social techniques:

Beware power move formats such as "I thought so" & "I knew it"

An example of avoiding "I thought so":

Haven't sent mine yet*

Before asking, I thought that a likely scenario was that he might have sent his email only to that specific subgroup.

He then told me exactly that, thus confirming what I had originally thought.

At that point, it comes natural for many to just say "yeah, I thought so".

But the "I thought so" can easily come across as:

  1. Defensive, as if to sub-communicate "yeah, don't think I'm dumb please, I'm also smart,"
  2. Social scalping to the receiver (idea), not willing to give him the due credit for a good idea, as if to sub-communicate "you're not adding any new insight"
  3. Social scalping to the receiver 2 (value), not willing to give him due credit for providing us both with value thanks to the effective strategy, as if to say "you're not adding any value, I was going to do that anyway" (which, in this case, I wasn't)

The only gain with the "I thought so" formats is that you may come across a bit more savvy (marketing savvy, here) or "less dumb" -and it's mostly fixed mindset people and thin-skinned people who are overly cautious of "not looking dumb"-.

In some cases, "I thought so" or "I knew it" are fair -after all, it's generally a good idea not to look dumb-.

However, in my experience, it's easy to over-use it.

One issue with it is that of course some people use that format as a power move, even when it's not true. Then it starts coming across as fake and annoying to the receiver.
So just to avoid even risking to come across as turkey-ish, sometimes you may want to avoid it even when true.

P.S.:

There are ways of saying "I thought so" and make it smoother, but let's skip that for brevity.
Plus, if you have a good reputation and only say when true, then it can be fair to say it.

Provide reasons for sudden changes

This example was from a brief convo to set a date for a lunch.

I had originally communicated the wrong day, and then had to change it within a few minutes:

Me: perfect. And for the day, I'm sorry, I got confused, I meant the 28. Also good for you (provides reasons why I need to move it to the 28th) ?

The reason why this format works well here is that changing days right away without providing a reason feels selfish and overpowering.
As if you're the only one who's got a say on the day and as if your needs take precedence over his.

Plus, same as above, some people use this format as a power move: they change the date or time on purpose to sub-communicate their power, and that they're in charge (win-lose).

And since in most cases you want to take a collaborative, win-win road, it's usually a good idea to provide a reason when you need sudden changes.

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Ali ScarlettJohn FreemanJackKavalierBel
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I met Bel for lunch today.

We forgot to take a pic this time, so here's one with just my motorcycle in the main "centro storico" square:

Great ride to get there -the street is magnificent-, great place, and great company.

Also, Bel made me realize something.
And that's the reason for this entry.

"Digging into already negative value"*

On this forum we -or I- advised Bel to ask to be paid whenever a client disappeared.

It seemed to make sense because:

  • It's a good mindset to start from
  • It's fair
  • It's high power

However, he said that it was a mistake to chase the bill when there was a negative value mismatch for the customer.

Why?

Because when that exchange value was negative for the customer, asking for money would drive away customers for good because they'd feel the transaction could only be fair without money exchange.

So when Bel asked for the bill, the transaction that already had not much positive value in their eyes, would grow even more unfair. It'd be a sucker's trade to the customer, and they'd never come back.

So, as a general rule, if your goal is to keep a relationship -and its future pay-offs- alive, then whenever a customer for whatever reason feels the value exchange is not positive, it may be smart to end it without asking for money for your time.
Of course, you can't be sure that the customer will stay. But by foregoing the bill, you give yourself higher chances -you may "stay in the game"-.

That was Bel's concept.
It made a lot of sense, and it clicked.

Albeit the advice to "always demand your bill" is a high-power stance that seemed to make sense, it's a general advice and can't be applied blanket-style to all situations.
Whether it applies or not truly depends on the power balance and the past value accountancy.

And it clicked that it's the same for all social exchanges.

Dating equivalent: pay or not pay, it depends on value exchange

We have this dynamic in the social exchange when we say to "make up the value" mismatch.

And we have it in dating too.

For example:

on TPM I criticized the pick-up concept of "not investing in a woman because that's what low-value providers do".

Not investing seems to make sense because it sounds high-power -and it does make sense, sometimes-.
But it's too high-level advice to be applied to all situations.

And it certainly doesn't work for a guy who is interested in an attractive woman but hasn't (yet) shown enough personal value.
That guy has no leverage, so to even just simply stay in the game and have a shot, he must show at least some willingness to invest.
Same goes if the woman feels higher value. Then he ought to invest to "make up the difference" -at least initially, and that's key, because a cool guy, same for a good lawyer, would then have plenty of chances to show his value-.

The same was true for Bel's case: advising to "get your time paid no matter what" is a great mindset and a high-power approach that does not work.

However, before today, it didn't cross my mind that what we explained for dating also applied to business exchanges.
This could be an underlying dynamic that runs across all human exchanges.


*name and concept are still in progress. I thought I had come up with a cool name while mulling it over the bike, but I should have stopped and noted it down because I later forgot 🙂

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What's your most important relationship?

The other day I was flying away and left my rental bike at the Ducati dealership.

That too, in its own little way, was a painful goodbye :D.

From the dealership I had to walk back to the central station, and albeit I didn't mind the walk, I had a power move move up my sleeve that I had successfully used on the way in:

  1. Open with warmth first: sub-communicate "I'm safe" with tone, words, and body language
  2. Keep warmth, sub-communicate some power as well: show some personal value
  3. Ask for directions
  4. Chat a bit
  5. Gain trust
  6. ....
  7. Reap the rewards: see if they offer you a ride

I may have it easier considering the environment and this may be a bit more likely to happen in Italy, but 2 times out of 2 I got offered a ride.

This last time, a couple of days ago, it was an unassuming senior in an unassuming car.

I wasn't even wishing for a ride this time, I was happy to walk.
But once I reached the elevated highway, I wasn't too looking forward to that -and not just because of the obvious "no pedestrians" signs, it looked just uninviting and even a bit dangerous by feet-.

As I looked at it and contemplated possible ways around it, here comes the guy I had asked for directions to.

He honks and signals me to jump in.

I gladly do.

He called me "pilgrim", which sound as weird in Itlaian as it does in English, nobody had ever called me that way.
But looking at myself that day, carrying a bunch of stuff by hand and a rucksack, asking for directions and walking on the way to a station, it didn't seem too far-fetched. I thought "eh, I suppose I can come across as free-roaming right now".

He asked me what I did, I explained it's about self-development, social skills and strategies, communication, and relationships, and then he asked:

Him: So what's the most important relationship

What a deep, "perceing" question I thought.

I answered, but I didn't want to talk too much.

Power dynamics, of course, and just plain social skills as well.
But there was more.
The way he spoke, this didn't come across like your average, normal guy engaging in chit-chat.

He looked like a guy you can learn from.

He had an aura about him, he was calm and self-assured. But it was that type of "unassuming self-confidence" that sub-communicates "guru-dom" and "enlightenment"-the polar opposite of "look-at-me" braggart confidence-.
It's the confidence of the man who gained inner peace.

So I knew I had to quickly turn it back on him:

Me: bla bla bla... And what do you think
Him: I think the most important relationship is with Jesus

I didn't see that one coming.

From then on, he told me that our meeting wasn't a chance meeting.

It was a short ride, but it was an experience.

Giving back power move

As I walked out, his phone rang.

And I took the chance to give back to him in more "socially pragmatic" fashion.

Loudly to be heard from the phone, I said what a wonderful great guy A. was.

The woman on the phone replied, we exchanged names, I introduced myself as a lucky random guy who got a lift and was touched by A.

It's a nice thing to do a favor to a stranger, and it's even nicer when those close to you know about it.
And especially so when directly from the receiver of that favor, a stranger to both -that's 100% honest signal, you gain massive trust and reputation in just a few seconds-.

Even as an ascetic he seemed, he appreciated.

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