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Ian O'Byrne

Goals transform a random walk into a chase. - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi #productivity

Ian O'Byrne

Oppositional Conversational Style

3 min read

As we engage in discussion or debate with others, we often come across the person that wants to argue just for the sake of arguing.

Gretchen Rubin identifies this as oppositional conversational style

Oppositional conversational style is a person, who in a discussion or debate disagrees with and corrects everything that you say. They may do this in a friendly or perhaps a belligerent manner. This may be face-to-face, or in online settings.

What does this look like?

This person will provide facts, alternative facts, beliefs, & suppositions all to suspend or carry on the debate. There is no desire to engage in a real debate. There is also no desire to come to a common ground through dialogue.

The individual may not listen in the debate. They frequently interrupt, monopolize, and/or hijack the conversation to present their own agenda. 

This may include attempts to force a dynamic in the discussion, or not moving on from a topic when both parties are not receptive. Alternatively, this may also include randomly and abruptly changing topics without transition or apparent reason.

There may be several reasons individuals engage in oppositional conversational style. It could be that emotions are causing them to act irrationally. They may be trying to cover up an incomplete understanding of the facts. They may simply not have the knowledge or intellectual fortitude to engage in discussion or debate.

What to do

In these instances, we often want to continue to debate and understand the individual...or make them understand our point of view. This is often a fruitless endeavor.

Keep in mind that it's not always necessary to change someone's mind. Do not get emotionally overwhelmed in the interaction. 

Realize that some issues are objective and some are subjective. Objective issues deal with concrete, or observable facts. If the other individual does not want to discuss facts, you may be arguing in vain.

Move on

When you find yourself in a discussion or debate with someone that utilizes an oppositional conversational style, the best course of action may be to end the discussion before it starts.

If you see any of the patterns identified above, it may be best for you to end the debate before it continues. 

I believe that it is much easier to be direct and honest with the individual. Ask them the following question:

Is there anything that I can say to change, or make you reconsider, your perspective? 

If they indicate that there is nothing you can say or do to make them change their mind, it is time to remove yourself from the conversation. 

Your relationship with the person should dictate your response. If it is a family member you may decide to ask them about their conversational style to better understand their logic. If it is a boss or co-worker, it might be better to accept their position and move on. If this is an acquaintance or someone that you don't really know, you should change the subject, or walk away. 


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Ian O'Byrne

Epictetus on what we can control in our own lives

3 min read

On the second day of Stoic Week 2016, we were asked to identify what is in our control. The handbook and daily prompts is available here

The morning reflection for today is as follows from Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 5.1

Early in the morning, when you are finding it hard to wake up, hold this thought in your mind: ‘I am getting up to do the work of a human being. Do I still resent it, if I am going out to do what I was born for and for which I was brought into the world? Or was I framed for this, to lie under the bedclothes and keep myself warm?’ ‘But this is more pleasant’. So were you born for pleasure: in general were you born for feeling or for affection? Don’t you see the plants, the little sparrows, the ants, the spiders, the bees doing their own work, and playing their part in making up an ordered world. And then are you unwilling to do the work of a human being? Won’t you run to do what is in line with your nature? 

In this reflection, we are asked to identify our locus of control. That is, what things can we effect change, and what elements are out of our purview.

In working with teachers, I often refer to this as "parking lot problems." Whne you try to help students, but start discussing the challenges with homelife, upbringing, or other issues that you really cannot "change"...I see these as things that should be left aside in the parking lot when you come in to work each day.

Epictetus makes this much easier to consider as he writes about the proper things for us to be concerned with. 

Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions. 

Epictetus is making it clear for us what is in our control, and what should not be included in our locus of control. In short, things that we control through our own actions, are in our control. I believe this is a good starting point to think about voice and choice in our own lives. 


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Ian O'Byrne

Trust thyself, every heart vibrates to that iron string. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

2 min read

Bondage or liberty as we consider aspects of self-reliance in our daily interactions.

A self-confident personality is not possible until we build a solid foundation of self-reliance.

The main deterrent to self-reliance is the mistaken certainty that others are smarter, wiser or more intelligent than we are. This causes us to look to others for our happiness and welfare. The person who is dependent in this sense must always reach out to something external.

Self-reliance is not only the belief that you can handle things and become successful, it is something more than that. It is having the courage to listen to your inner prompting for a hint of the kind of success you truly desire. It means taking your cue from yourself – not listening to something or someone outside yourself to get an idea of what you should be, do or have. When we learn to read the “signs” correctly and follow our intuition we can begin to trust ourselves and not follow the beat of someone else’s drum.

The habit of leaning and depending is so ingrained in certain individuals that they abdicate all personal authority in favor of another person, philosophy or religion. They feel that they will be secure if they can find a person, organization or religion that that they can cling to with blind devotion. They allow this person, organization or religion to be responsible for their happiness. 

Ian O'Byrne

I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside of me. - Abe Lincoln

2 min read

Dehypnotizing ourselves.

Since our birth, we're hypnotized to some extent in believeing ideas that we believe to be true about ourselves. These ideas may come from parents, sibliings, friends, teachers, etc. We co-construct this narrative with others about ourselves using some of our own thinking and intution. An even larger portion of this comes from those outside forces that seem to forget how much influence they really have on us.

These forces are like a form of hypnosis as we believe what we want to believe, or see what we want to see about oursleves. The real truth is that in many ways, we're blieveing what others want to see in us.

When we see someone getting hypnotized, we sit in the theater and watch as the subject easily enters a tranclike state. We laugh and sit on the edge of our seats as we see the hypnotized person easily lift heavy objects, withstand pain or degradation, or easily accomplish things they would never in their right minds try to accomplish. 

Once you believe something is true, you act as if it were true. No matter what facts or opinions you recieve, you hold steadfast to your beliefs. 

In this same belief system, what could you do if you considered that you were not aware of the real potential or truth about yourself. What if you really were hypnotized all of this time by those around you that help you co-construct this narrative? 

Perhaps you're currently hypnotized by incorrect beliefes, concepts, and values that interfere with your true potential and identity.

When you finally wake up...what will you do?

Ian O'Byrne

Ideas without action are worthless. - Helen Keller

2 min read

In the development of new ideas, innovation and other acts of entreprenuership, our days are often filled with a glut of ideas. This includes interacting and mingling with others that bring ideas to our attention. 

In many spaces, these ideas are incredible and lead to new ideas and opportunties. Most times these ideas lead to a time suck that takes us away from our true goals and aspirations.

In my own work, I'm typically an ideas person. I come up with (possibly) too many ideas. My brain is always churning and trying to find new ways to hack the system and make it operate better.

I also try to execute on these ideas. Without execution, I think there is no value in identifying and thinking up ideas. It's all talk and blather.

My challenge is that I like to follow through on ideas as well. My reputation is important to me, and I want to be viewed as someone that thinks up ideas, innovate, executes, and follows through. I don't want to drop the ball on anything.

The challenge in this desire to follow through is that you need to identify objectives and goals on a granular scale. You also need to focus on being an ideas leader and not tied in to being a manager. Finally, there is a need to know when and how to kill things off and move on.

The first step is making sure that you allow your ideas to gel, and execute on these when they become actionable. 

Ian O'Byrne

February 2, 2016

2 min read

I actually think happiness is the absence of suffering. It comes from peace. That comes from being careful about desire, judgment, and reaction. - Naval Ravikant

In working to identify more opportunities, and creating new/different revenue streams, I often get lost in the minutiae of what do I have to do this week, or this month to get to the due date and deliverable. There is an endless cycle of hustle, hustle, hustle.

Yes, much of this is motivated by an extra child, having two mouths to worry about the future for. This is also having made other big changes over the past year, but I think there is also a pattern to this. 

I'm in this posiiton because I have seeked to reboot my life every 5 to 7 years. I first got in to, and then graduated college. This led to an identification of what's next...what's next...what's next?

In this I've continually knocked on doors, and most times proceeded when there was no response. I feel a continuous need to reboot and work on myself for the better.

I believe that this latest round of the "one side project" and identifying new steps or opportunities to follow is part of that trend. In this there is also the need to remember that I'm not preparing for something that will sometime come...this is life. I'm in it now. This is what it all is about.

For better or worse...this is it.