How do you figure things out?46 ways
Choose from the domains above.
Write to Andrius (MS@MS.LT) to add more ways!
Research & Culture & Business
        Working

Working      Don't be idle! Don't be unproductive or destructive.1079

          Give away what I have      I ultimately collected about two hundred classics of rock music but it was getting difficult to buy albums and CDs were very pricey. So I gave away my collection, mostly to some rock musicians from Lithuania. It was nice that they appreciated the albums.1013

        Appreciate others

Appreciate others      As we give, we appreciate what others can and do give, for we may have them give on our behalf.1081

          Handicapping so as to even out chances      My father taught me and my brother how to play chess. He would not play easy but rather he would handicap himself by removing several of his pieces from the board, enough to even out our chances. As we got better and would beat him, he would reduce the handicap. First it was a queen and two rooks, later a queen, then a rook, then a bishop, then a knight, until one day we could beat him. Because you can't learn from somebody who is not playing to win! I was always impressed by how smart and kind he was as a teacher.1006

          Noting people's inclinations      When I was in Lithuania, during the independence movement, I saw that the newly forming youth organizations could work together and be stronger. I thought that they could share things like video equipment. But it turned out that nobody ever wanted to share, each deeply preferred to have their own.1064

          Take family stories to heart      After the war in Soviet-occupied Lithuania there was not much food and our relatives ate from one bowl and they say the children who ate slower ended up smaller.1071

          Take to heart my employer's wishes      I worked a summer for a Lithuanian organization on a special project making cassettes for the blind. One weekend they wanted me to come in to help stuff envelopes. I refused because I said it wasn't part of my job description. They were unhappy. But I let them down.1066

        Learn what is fair

Learn what is fair      1082

          Realizing the basis for leadership      When I started my business I wanted my colleagues in Lithuania to earn the same as me. But then I realized that I am the one investing, sticking my neck out, running the risk. And they themselves stated that first I need to make money, and then they can.1062

          Who is helping or hurting whom      I was running a social enterprise, I support a community center, I didn't owe the government any money, but it was going to destroy me through this paperwork.1019

        Invest in giving

Invest in giving      Invest in a culture of giving1083

          Recognizing who is there for me      I went to school in Chicago in part to be closer to my relatives, all of whom lived in the area. Some of them would say how family was much more important than friends because in the end you always counted on family. But that never bore out. Partly, my mother didn't want me to ever have or discuss any money issues with anybody in our extended family. And simply in practice, whenever I discussed my business needs or for loans or leads or mentors, there was no help. Whereas I have good friends who backed me up with significant long term or short term loans. In general, different people helped or not in different ways, as they were able and felt comfortable.1050

        Taking

Taking      1097

        Accept what I am given

Accept what I am given      1084

          Jesus was supported by women's possessions      Luke 8:1 It happened soon afterwards, that he went about through cities and villages, preaching and bringing the good news of the Kingdom of God. With him were the twelve, 8:2 and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out; 8:3 and Joanna, the wife of Chuzas, Herod's steward; Susanna; and many others; who served them from their possessions.1368

          Be with the best person to be influenced by      When I was at the end of my resources in 2000, I asked, who would be the best person for me to work for, for my personal growth. So I turned to Cass McNutt who was active at our lab, interested in tools for thinking, and experienced as an entrepreneur. I was especially impressed by his visceral love of God. Working for him was trickier than we both had thought. I'm glad I had the chance and that I was able to turn to him and he was able to take me.1009

          Consider how my time is best spent      At their suggestion, I agreed to cancel my request, which I did, but then they said they would still have to audit me. I said that it would destroy me and that I would have to consider instead devoting that time to publicly making my case.1016

          Maximizing joy      When I was a child, I got just enough allowance each week to buy a chocolate bar. I liked chocolate very much and I would buy a Nestle's crunch bar because I had figured out that it was thin and so I could spend the longest time eating it. I think I timed myself once and I spent a whole half hour nibbling through one bar. That was like heaven, but a bit ridiculous.1022

        Learn my limits

Learn my limits      Learn my limits, typically by overstepping them.1086

          Ask for help with a formality      During the independence movement, the dollar was worth a lot and I could hire an organizer. I paid him for one or two months but then he needed his labor book to be signed by somebody official. So I suggested that we go the reform movement's office, that they could do that formality, and I was surprised that they refused.1060

          Ask neighbors for donations      In high school we used to raise money for our swim team by having a swimathon. We would go door to door and ask for a penny or more per lap that we swam. We ended up swimming 200 laps. It was good practice asking people for support and quite surprising how supportive people were.1065

          Break something      I once wanted a telescope for Christmas and my parents hesitated but I was surprised to find that they gave me one. I found it early in the morning and tried to put it together but apparently I broke it. And to my sadness that was the end of the telescope, my parents did not replace it.1024

          Not doing as I was told to do      When I was a student I went to Soviet-occupied Lithuania and so my grandfather gave me some money to buy items for some old anti-communist guerilla fighters at the dollar store. And he said be sure to bring back the receipts. So I met the people and I bought what they wanted but they wanted to keep the receipts and not thinking I let them. I didn't understand why they were so important, so long as the money was spent. And my grandfather was very unhappy because he said that he will not have receipts to give to the emigre organization and they won't be giving any more money because they can't account for it.1068

        Steward what I am given

Steward what I am given      Our vocation.1087

          Consider what I need to do myself      And given that I need to pay taxes in both Lithuania and the United States I think that I should do all the paperwork myself because I need to be on top of it myself and there is nobody here who knows both systems anyways.1054

          Considering the ultimate outcome      At one point our leader Algis Razminas of the Folk Creativity Club Atzalynas won enough projects to make a living, but they were cancelled by the government when the minister changed and the budget was redone.1036

          Observe the care that people show others      When my parents used to travel in Soviet-occupied Lithuania they would carry two suitcases full of presents, household items such as calculators and bottles of aspirin. We had hundreds of relatives because our grandparents were active in keeping in touch with their brothers and sisters and cousins. A lot of care went into thinking what people might need, and once there, deciding who to give what.1070

        Work-in-parallel

Work-in-parallel      Full-fledged giving and taking feed each other. In my experience, they are only loosely coupled, however, by Working-in-Parallel based on a three-cycle of Aligning our principles, Pursuing them, and Taking Stock. ("Common knowledge" sometimes assumes that giving and taking are tightly coupled, but that goes counter to some of my personal experience.) 1100

        Align

Align      1072

          Organize around the client's perspective      Working for Cass McNutt I learned about visibility. I had always been inclined to work from foundations. But I observed from him that it was the client relationship that was most important. Therefore it was key that the client continuously feel real progress and benefit, even if it was in simple things. And that these benefits were actually quite real and significant, whereas deeply pursued software initiatives might very often not bear any fruit at all and be completely counterproductive.1046

        Pursue

Pursue      1073

        Take stock

Take stock      1074

          Learning from experience whether something was worthwhile      When I was seven years old my parents gave me seventy five cents and I decided to spend it to go up the Space Needle. It was something I really wanted to do. But then I cried and they asked why, wasn't I happy? And I said, yes, it was good but it wasn't worth seventy five cents. I had thought that it would be a life time experience and then felt disappointed that it wasn't and it was over and I could have gotten some army soldiers instead.1040

          Note how things work out in practice      I have always hoped to attract programmers who could help for free on our projects, but that never worked that way. Instead, I had to learn how to program. And I have helped self-educate some programmers, but they have proved not quite reliable. And yet every so often I am positively surprised, they help in significant ways.1039

        Live as if we are all one person

Live as if we are all one person      1088

          Earn money together and share it      We had a fund raiser for our travel to the national chess championships. We went around to different businesses to ask for donations. I thought that the money should go to the kids who needed it the most. But our teacher said that the kids should all share it equally but especially because we had made such an extra effort to collect it.1067

          Learn from studying your teachers      My father taught me and my brother how to play chess. He would not play easy but rather he would handicap himself by removing several of his pieces from the board, enough to even out our chances. As we got better and would beat him, he would reduce the handicap. First it was a queen and two rooks, later a queen, then a rook, then a bishop, then a knight, until one day we could beat him. Because you can't learn from somebody who is not playing to win! I was always impressed by how smart and kind he was as a teacher.1007

          Look for others who might value what I value      I used to collect postage stamps. I kept a very large and orderly collection with thousands stamps from my father and uncle and grandfather and quite a few that I had purchased at a shop. I used the catalogs to organize my collection and was aware of how much the various stamps were worth. It was worth hundreds of dollars, the albums alone! When I was leaving high school for college I was quite happy to give my collection away, and saddened to realize that there wasn't any person, any child to give it away to. I sent it to a nun who was collecting stamps and selling them in bulk for pennies to raise money, earning perhaps less than the shipping costs. It was sad, but even sadder that throughout my life I never met a child who collected stamps and would care about all the complicated world history and geography that they represented. This, even though I worked as a tutor with dozens of disadvantaged children.1010

          Make myself vulnerable to others' standards of behavior      I would lend money to my friends and have them pay off my own loans, thus hurting my credit rating. I felt that I was helping by letting them make good use of my credit. And that I shouldn't have to be after them as they should be on top of things. But none of them were perfect as to that. I suppose it's important to keep on top of the use of credit if you're going to share it, you have to manage that.1057

        Valuation

Valuation      Giving and Taking are in sync when we Live As If We Were All One Person. We can then substitute for ourselves with Valuation. Such a substitution (much like a model substituting for reality) takes place on four levels:

  • Peace of mind (A decision substitutes for the decision maker.)
  • Motivation (External motivation substitutes for internal motivation.)
  • Money (Compensation substitutes for disparity in contributions.)
  • Humility (Autonomy substitutes for morality)
In the case of "peace of mind", we conflate ourselves with our avatar, which is to say, as decision maker we are one with our decisions. Whereas, in "humility", we divorce ourselves from our avatar. If people truly want to hang themselves, or be fat, drunk, stupid, mean, sick, ugly, filthy, destructive, uptight, hurtful, if they truly want that, then we'll sell them the rope in whatever color they want. (Yes, I get stuck at that point. Perhaps I doubt if they are truly free.)1101

        Peace of mind

Peace of mind      A decision substitutes for the decision maker. They are conflated. Whether there is value.1078

          Noting changes over time      We took in a lady I knew from the streets, helped her quit drinking, and took her in for two years and she worked as a cleaning lady. But then I drove her out because I thought that she should move on, as she was not active in the club's activity with the youth, but just wanted them to stay away so the club would stay clean, and didn't want to do anything more with her life.1037

          Compare how different systems work      We talked a long time about the difference between the two systems, Lithuania and US, that the IRS gives priority to the facts at hand rather than the documents, that they give people refunds based on what the people say they are due (they could not believe this), and that people are audited typically once in their lifetime. 1018

          Recognizing the impact of external motivation      In junior high school and high school I and my brother played actively in adult tournaments. The stronger tournaments were for money. The money seemed to suggest a very different way of playing that was foreign to me and so I put it out of my mind. It seemed to interfere with the idea of trying to go up against the best players rather than win a prize amongst the weaker players.1063

          Monetary encouragement      When we were children, our father decided that he would supplement our allowance by giving us one penny for each page of Lithuanian books that we read for our own enjoyment. He wouldn't pay for English books, only Lithuanian. It was a really great support because the Lithuanian books were extra effort but I really wanted to get good at reading them. It made it extra rewarding. 1000

          Money as a measure of motivation      I remember as a child our mother would give us 5 cents for every caterpillar that we would remove from the tomato vines. The caterpillars were large, light green, gross to pick up, and scary because their alien body ended in what looked like a stinger. It didn't seem worth it. But then my mother said that it wasn't really about the money, she needed my help. So her need got me to do it, and the reward encouraged me to work efficiently. Mielas Andriau, Buvo smagu skaityti apie tavo pinigine odiseja. I really made you work for that nickel. Su meile, Mama RutaKK, 2011.05.051002

        Humility

Humility      Autonomy substitutes for morality. Why there is value.1075

          Learning what is useful or not for whom      After my freshman year my father arranged that I work the summer as an intern for his employer, Hughes Aircraft. There wasn't much for me to do there where I was assigned so I took the chance to teach myself programming, namely, Fortran. My supervisor wanted me to create a graphing program for him but I didn't have any real guidance and so I ended up focusing on what I thought was the coolest thing I could do, which was making a program for graphing derivatives of trigonometric functions, which was absolutely useless practically. So I made sure to gain from the experience, but it was a waste for my supervisor and they didn't have me back.1005

        Service

Service      Humility is concrete as six forms of Service that pairs the four levels of Servant and Served. These forms consider what can be done "within the system" (the market, the firm) (whereas Giving and Taking take place "outside the system", among family, friends, neighbors). The mindsets are given by the following questions:

  • How does it seem to me? Appraise. The calm Servant provides the motivated Served with an appraisal, judgment, price.
  • What else should I be doing? Audit. The calm Servant provides the rich Served with a budget, alternatives, substitutions.
  • Would it make any difference? Negotiate. The motivated Servant provides the rich Served with choices, priorities, contracts.
  • What do I have control over? Sell. The rich Servant provides the humble Served with possibilities, favors, exceptions.
  • Am I able to consider the question? Cut one's losses. The motivated Servant provides the humble Served with closure, clarity.
  • Is this the way things should be? Consult. The calm Servant provides the humble Served with overview, advice.
1099

        Appraise

Appraise      How does it seem to me? Appraise. The calm Servant provides the motivated Served with an appraisal, judgment, price. This is a microeconomic perspective.1089

          Become aware that a formula is at work      When I was in junior high school I used to spend my allowance on Mad magazine. It seemed at first like very intelligent, fresh, stimulating humor and I very much looked forward to it. But over time the formula became apparent. And after a few years I became disappointed and finally lost interest and stopped buying it. I went through the same cycle with Newsweek and other publications, where what originally seemed fresh turned out to be an editorial formula that grew stale with familiarity.1004

          Set a price      I sold my car. It was a practical car, well kept and I tried to get the blue book price. Somebody wanted to buy it but they were hoping I would go down and I refused to. I thought those prices were accurate. So instead I ultimately sold it for quite a bit lower than that, to a friend.1058

        Negotiate

Negotiate      Would it make any difference? Negotiate. The motivated Servant provides the rich Served with choices, priorities, contracts.1091

          Give priority to what is most real      My priorities are to make sure that the government has my money, to turn in my declarations, to keep a record of my receipts, and only then to go through the artifice of keeping formal books. I said also that my income comes primarily from the United States and since I had to abide by both systems, I gave priority to the United States.1017

        Sell

Sell      What do I have control over? Sell. The rich Servant provides the humble Served with possibilities, favors, exceptions.1092

          Argue my case to save my situation      I am due a rather large refund in Lithuania... At their suggestion, I agreed to cancel my request, which I did, but then they said they would still have to audit me. I said that it would destroy me and that I would have to consider instead devoting that time to publicly making my case. My priorities are to make sure that the government has my money, to turn in my declarations, to keep a record of my receipts, and only then to go through the artifice of keeping formal books. I said also that my income comes primarily from the United States and since I had to abide by both systems, I gave priority to the United States. We talked a long time about the difference between the two systems, that the IRS gives priority to the facts at hand rather than the documents, that they give people refunds based on what the people say they are due (they could not believe this), and that people are audited typically once in their lifetime. I was running a social enterprise, I support a community center, I didn't owe the government any money, but it was going to destroy me through this paperwork. Finally, the inspector said, but what could she possibly do, she had to keep to the law. I said, simply do whatever you can within the bounds of your powers. So she spoke to her supervisor and he spoke to his and they made an exception for me and I finally escaped.1015

          Mapping out the constraints that incomes impose on expenses      Algis Razminas, the leader of the Atzalynas Club, tried to make a living from it by winning money from projects. But when we analyzed the projects, the money was tied to particular expenses, with lots of money for consumables, some for wages, but none for essentials like heating or electricity.1061

        Cut one's losses

Cut one's losses      Am I able to consider the question? Cut one's losses. The motivated Servant provides the humble Served with closure, clarity.1093

          Failing to get around the rules      When I entered graduate school at UCSD I was able to live in student housing for two years as a primary tenant. The housing was quite affordable. But as the two years were ending, I forget the details, but I tried to get on the list for housing afterwards, and it was morally frustrating because I think I tried to get around the regulations somehow.1035

          Recognize the inapplicability of an idea      When I was six years old my parents opened a bank account for my birthday and deposited 10 dollars. And the next year they deposited 10 dollars, too. When my father would go to the bank he would take my book with him and they would stamp the amount of money that I had which reflected the interest I had earned, a few cents and yet it excited me that my money could grow exponentially. However, as I grew older there was inflation, but even more significantly, I realized that the older I grew as a child, the greater amounts of money I dealt with, and so it was completely absurd to save money. Finally, my parents let me take out the money and spend it. I bought an electronics kit that I had wanted. But I realized that 10 dollars had much less significance to a 12 year old than to a 6 year old. That experience made me very skeptical about the value of saving. I felt negative and so I changed my principles.1003

        Assess

Assess      Is this the way things should be? Consult. The calm Servant provides the humble Served with overview, advice. This is a macroeconomic perspective.1094

          Avoiding vicious circles      In high school there was a student, quite bright, who worked after school. He said it was so that he could have a car and have insurance for it. And the reason that he needed a car was so that he could drive to work. That seemed to me the most absurd circle of logic that I was all the more careful to avoid any desires for which I would have to work.1048

          Not to be complicit with a dysfunctional system      Basically, the expectation in Lithuania is that I hire an accountant at least half-time, which I feel is counterproductive but also immoral as it is contrived work that simply justifies the system.1053

          Recognizing justice in reciprocity      After the war in Soviet-occupied Lithuania our grandparents had very little money yet they still sent packages to their relatives back home including old suits and shoes and cloth. This made a big difference to the families' well being. Years later when my grandmother was sick in bed her nieces were very happy to take turns to come out and take care of her. So on the one hand they were illegal workers but on the other hand it was a beautiful reciprocity.1042

          Accepting our parents' values      I remember as a child we had to weed our garden every so often. It wasn't especially fun. And we weren't rewarded for it. It was just something that we were supposed to do. But there was something nice about doing that work conscientiously and feeling like part of the team, our family.1001

          Appreciate that the situation may change      Also, it's my position that laws are in flux and they may well change in my favor as I get to them.1055

          Learning from elders how to do things right      I remember as a child our grandmother came from Chicago to visit. She went outside to broom. I think that we said that we could broom. But she made a point that we didn't know how to broom. Then she taught us how to broom. By the way, in California we did not use brooms, we would clear the pavement by driving everything away with water from the hose.1043

          Making sure to do enough to show that I am trying      When I started up a business in Lithuania I was very careful to understand and fulfill all of the rules to the letter. But at a certain point it became clear that for me to do the kind of business that I wanted to do it would be practically impossible. In particular, in Lithuania I am expected, as a sole proprietor, to have a full set of books for my business, including a cash book. And there were many other laws, such as having to write letters to myself before each trip as to my business purpose, and so on. Whereas in the United States it would be enough to have a shoe box of receipts. ... So my thinking is that I do as much as I can of the paperwork and keep attentive to it even though it's not possible for me to do absolutely all of what is required, so that I at least am making a good faith effort. 1052