Leadership vs Management: Is One Better Than the Other?

Being an excellent manager doesn’t make someone a strong leader. We’ve all run into someone who uses the titles interchangeably, and it can be frustrating.

Knowing the difference leadership vs management helps you understand your role in your organization. By recognizing the difference, you can sharpen your abilities so that you can reach your fullest potential. Knowing what separates managers and leaders can also help you figure out how to achieve the best balance of leadership and management qualities.

In this article, I will explore the similarities and differences between leaders and managers, and help you figure out how to get the best of both worlds.

  • What are leadership and management?

    A leader’s power comes from their ability to get buy-in from others. They use their influence to challenge norms and guide innovation. As Drucker implies, leaders sometimes bend the rules to spur change. Peter Drucker aptly puts it:[1]

    “The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers. To gain followers requires influence but doesn’t exclude the lack of integrity in achieving this.”

    Managers ensure that employees conform to standards and adhere to policies. They make sure that the goals of their leaders are carried out. They are capable and responsible, but their contribution to organizations is strictly by-the book.[2]

    Key differences between leadership and management

    Focus on goals and vision vs. Focus on tasks

    Leaders are oriented toward their company’s vision and goals. They look at the big picture and come up with new ways to actualize their vision.[3] When leaders try new things, they always tie their ideas back to the company’s mission.

    Managers are task-masters. While they may care about an organization’s vision, their job is to stick to policy. Managers carry out the big ideas for their organization’s leaders.

    Sell it vs. Tell it

    Since leaders are always on the cusp of innovation, they have to convince others that their ideas are worthwhile. Remember, they gain their authority by encouraging others to buy into their line of thinking.

    On the other hand, managers don’t have to sell an idea because their role is to enforce policies. If someone steps out of line, they can fall back on procedures. Employees do as their managers tell them.

    Take risks vs. Minimize risks

    Anytime you try something new, you must take a risk. Leaders take risks by default because they often push for change.

    Managers are put in place to keep risks to a minimum. They make sure that workers are doing what they’re supposed to do in the manner the company tells them to. When problems arise, a manager may take the problem to leadership to amend policies.

    Encourage vs. Instruct

    The lines between management and leadership blur here depending on how the manager approaches their duties. Ultimately, leaders offer encouragement to employees to think outside the box and see the big picture.

    Managers usually have clear guidelines about different aspects of their workplace. They may provide encouragement, but their main job is to tell you how things are supposed to be done. They’re the person you turn to when you want to figure out the best way to do your job.

    Go against the grain vs. Go with the flow

    Leaders need to challenge the status quo or else their organization risks stagnation.[4] They try new things to see if they can be more effective. They work to align company policies with the company’s vision.

    Managers, on the other hand, maintain the status quo. They’re doing their best work when they are enforcing the guidelines set out by the leaders.

    Motivate vs. Approve

    When you try new things, your risk of failing increases. Leaders must be motivated, and they’re great at keeping others motivated. They tie everything they do back to the company’s vision. When a company has a strong vision, a leader can use it as a rallying point for inspiring employees.

    When you’re managing people, your main objective is to decide if something passes muster. Managers look at their subordinates’ actions and determine whether they meet the standards set out by the company.

    Break the rules vs. Follow the rules

    Leaders have to play fast and loose with the rules to get ahead. Rules are often too rigid to allow for innovation, which means that leaders frequently bend them. When a company or organization is badly broken, leaders may disregard the rules entirely.

    If a manager wants to keep their job, they stick to the strategies set out by superiors. Bending and breaking the rules undermines their position, which can weaken the company.

    Inspire trust vs. Expect control

    When someone is guiding you through uncharted territory, you must have a certain level of trust in them. A strong leader is excellent at inspiring trust to take people to places they’ve never been.

    Managers’ authority rests in their ability to have control outright. You don’t have to like or trust your manager to do what you’re told. Managers expect and need control to do their job well.

    Foster ideas vs. Assign tasks

    Leaders thrive on making improvements by trying new things. They foster new ideas and free thinking because this supports their aims. They know that if they can encourage more people to think outside the box, the collective brainpower of the group will drive more innovation.

    Managers can’t encourage free thinking because they wouldn’t be able to fulfill company expectations. Telling people what to do is the only way they can ensure that employees will do what they’re supposed to in the way they’re supposed to do it.

    Is one better than the other?

    As you may have noted, there are some stark differences between leaders and managers, but leadership and management are complementary.

    Leaders are risk-taking, innovating, game-changers. Managers are by-the-book maintainers of the status quo. That doesn’t mean that it’s better to be one or the other.

    Companies need managers and leaders to run smoothly. A lack of management puts organizations at risk for falling out of compliance and not meeting goals. A lack of leadership leads to a stagnant and uninspired workforce.

    Leaders and managers may exist at opposite ends of a spectrum when it comes to authority, but they’re on the same team. A leader can have a grand vision, but without managers to carry it out, the vision won’t be realized. Managers have to adhere to standards, but if they aren’t inspired by leadership, they won’t be able to share their vision with the workforce.

    How to strike the balance between leadership and management

    There’s a happy medium between leadership and management. In some cases, you do need someone to perform as strictly one or the other. The best authority figures know when to apply leadership and management to greater and lesser degrees.

    When to use leadership skills:

    The degree to which you’re able to use leadership skills depends on your workforce and your company’s way of operating. If your members are clear about the team’s vision and goals, they’re more likely to be inspired by a leader.

    For an authority figure to lean more toward leadership, they need to be able to trust that workers are already fully aware of and compliant with company policies. If you constantly have to babysit your team members to perform basic tasks, it’s going to be difficult to encourage free thinking.

    When a team is made up of dedicated individuals who understand their roles, you have more leeway. They’ll be able to handle innovation and creativity while keeping up with their responsibilities. When a leader can enter into a dialogue with workers about company policies, they can come up with new ideas together.

    When to take on the role of a manager:

    When you’re new on the job, you need somebody to tell you how things should be done. Managers are an absolute necessity when your team members are new. They can help workers figure out how to do their jobs in the most efficient way possible.

    Managers are also excellent at figuring out how much employees are capable of. They know that giving them too many responsibilities can have a negative impact on their performance and morale. They safeguard employee productivity by understanding how each person works and responds to stress.

    Organizations always need managers to help employees with uncertainties that they may have about their work. The manager is the person who can show you where to find a procedure in the handbook. They take the mystery out of the work so that employees can meet company expectations.

    Running a company made only of leaders would be like herding cats. Having managers run the show means that you’ll get a lot done, but you’ll never get better. Organizations need managers and leaders to reach their full potential. You can’t have one without the other.

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

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    Achieve Inbox 0 To Increase 100% Team Efficiency

    Founders and CEOs are always short on time, and their plates will never be cleared. But in order to succeed long-term, all leaders have to decide on strategic things they cannot let slip. These bottom lines form the rituals that help leaders make key decisions to help their teams get work done. It’s proven time and again that founders like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg need to have a ‘superhuman’ work ethic[1] to stay on top of their businesses.

    Whether it’s wearing the same clothes like Obama, Zuckerberg, and the late Steve Jobs does, or setting fixed times to finish all your tasks, having an anchor ritual is key. When leading a company, a leader’s most critical role is decision making. You do not want to become the bottleneck[2] that’s holding your awesome team members back.

    To help your business grow, you must achieve inbox 0. By ensuring that you’ve addressed all messages at the end of the day, your team will be able to hit the ground running tomorrow. Below are the ways I do it.

    Turn off all notifications

    First, turn off all your notifications. The cost of task switching[3] can break your train of thought and becomes a complete diversion. As tempting as it is to think that you must pick up those phone calls or respond to a direct message, don’t. Instead, by creating a response time buffer to protects your focus. You are giving yourself the space to return to only the important items later on. Read here to see why multi tasking isn’t as good as you thought it would be.

    Set times to check messages

    Give yourself two or three fixed times throughout the day to clean your inbox and other apps such as Slack, Hipchat, Pipedrive for sales and even Git if you are technical. By giving yourself a block of time to respond to messages, you are also giving more time to give thoughtful responses. Messages often fall into the problem solving or planning[4] type of work that is a different mindset from procedural tasks.

    Use Automation tools so nothing slips through

    Use a tool to help you collect all your messages in one place, such as Franz. Even more simply, bookmark all your messaging platforms (e-mail, Whatsapp, Trello, Asana, Missive, or Pipedrive) in one browser folder and open them all at once. Automate tasks like these so that you don’t have to spend time thinking about which platforms or channels to check every day.

    Don’t give yourself tomorrow

    “I’ll check that message tomorrow” is a luxury you can never allow yourself. That one message will quickly become two, three, and a hopeless pile by the end of the week. Productivity is the mentality of holding yourself to a standard. If you are staying up too late to clear your inbox, think about optimizing your schedule in other ways. For example, can you delegate some decision making tasks to team leads? Another way is to rearrange your social schedule or finding the most optimal times during the day to work on different tasks.

    Give yourself a basic Yes / No question

    Finally, learn to prioritize instantly by screening messages with a yes/no question. When scanning a notification, ask yourself: will this take less than 2 minutes to address? If yes, clear it now to reduce your task list. If it will take longer, then create an item on your favorite to-do app. Also consider importance and urgency. Is someone dependent on your answer? If yes, and your response only takes one line, then provide an answer to allow your colleague to continue their work.

    As a leader, your responses are essential to guiding your company. By doing small behavioural changes, you can achieve inbox 0 by screening message priorities and scheduling dedicated time slots to respond.

    Reference

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    5 Ways To Increase Your Productivity To Match Your Business Growth

    Growth is a happy problem for any startup. You know your company is on the right track when you need more people to meet sales demands and have the budget to hire. But just growing your team or adding more hours alone isn’t enough. You and your team will need to optimize your productivity as well.

    The initially harder, but smarter, way is to change your habits to regain your time[1] and grow your business.

    I founded a company to keep my freedom to work on, work with, and work when I like. As I’ve grown my company from a 3-person team to over 50 people in two cities, I’ve learned the importance of work-life balance[2] to avoid burnout. Even if your workload grows, as an entrepreneur you need to protect your time. A successful business is one that improves its sales without sacrificing it’s teams’ quality of life. After experimenting with a range of productivity hacks and tools, below are the 5 most effective habits I’ve developed.

    Keep your morning routine within a reasonable timeframe

    How you wake up is even more important than when. A morning routine[3] is critical for starting on the right foot each day and most successful business leaders use early mornings to send e-mails.[4]

    Whether it is making your cup of coffee, hitting the gym, or sending e-mails, do it every day. Also give yourself a fixed time to complete the routine. For example, I wake up at 8am and send e-mails until 9am. The ones I haven’t finished will be addressed during my two other scheduled e-mail checking sessions later in the day.

    Track your time to instantly cut distraction

    Use a time tracker without being OCD so that you can learn about how you are using your time (rather than how you think you are spending it). Find a time tracking tool such as Timing App,[5] which automatically detects what software you are using and what pages you are browsing to log what you did. The app removes the need to do manual time tracking, which means you won’t have gaps in your tracker. You do not need to be “OCD” because you can leave the time tracker on while taking breaks and counting it towards the task. After a week, you will probably notice where chunks of time disappear. For example, you may find you are spending three hours responding to only a few e-mails and remember that you tend to click on links or browse news simultaneously. For more time tracking and management tools, read here.

    Simply by tracking your time, you are holding yourself accountable and it will motivate you to focus. Give yourself a target timeframe for responding to e-mails and you will naturally try to reach that goal with your time tracker turned on. With the focus, you may find yourself getting out of the office earlier than you used to!

    Delegate your hours (and don’t give yourself extra time)

    Plan your hours and stick to them. Bill Gates and Elon Musk divide their schedules into 5-minute slots.[6]

    Planning out your days keeps you focused on priorities and protects your down time. When scheduling your waking hours, you force yourself to consider your whole day, including off hours. By giving mental space to your personal schedule, you will give yourself time to do errands, see friends and family, or just read a book, to recharge.

    Do not let your tasks spill over. If you find a task, such as a product meeting, consistently takes longer than you wanted, adjust your estimation. Another effective approach is to schedule another fixed time to finish outstanding items. Knowing you have a deadline keeps you motivated to optimize your minutes.

    Breakfast & Lunch meetings

    When you want to spend dinners with friends and use office hours for work, what time do you have for meetings? The answer is breakfast and lunch. Everyone has to eat, so why not make that time more productive with discussions?

    Having breakfast meetings catches people at their most productive[7] before other things take up their mental energy. In addition, scheduling meal meetings reminds you to eat, which is healthier and improves productivity.[8] Meetings with meals can be limited to one or two hours. Lightening up your meetings with food gives you a change of scene and your mind a break, which is important for avoiding burn out.

    Ignore phone calls and call back while commuting

    Lastly, reduce interruptions. I turn all my notifications to silent and check my phone when I am ready. This gives me control of my time and places calls into a time block, like e-mails. In addition, you will only return calls if they are a priority, which means you won’t be caught by ad hoc casual chats.

    I make this doubly productive by returning calls only while commuting. Making a call while on the train or walking puts a time limit and focuses on the essential points. I am able to recapture lost productivity during commutes by discussing things when I cannot work on a keyboard.

    Take a step back

    While it is tempting to squeeze in those extra hours to help grow your business, it’s important for entrepreneurs to take a step back to work smarter. Managing a fuller plate for the long term requires developing habits that reduce distractions. Learn where you can make efficiency gains, stay healthy, and give yourself personal time.

    Reference

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    74 Healthy Habits That Will Improve Your Overall Well-Being and Make You Feel Good

    Poor health and low energy levels can negatively impact every part of your life. Your creative spark can be destroyed, leaving you with zero inspiration and ideas. Work would become tedious and hard going, and your social life would become a shadow of what it used to be.

    Life for you would no longer be fun. It’s a sorry state of affairs.

    What you need to transform your life is a healthier lifestyle. One that will bring back your natural energy and zest for life.

    By learning the best healthy habits to take and following the tips in this article, you’ll be able to get back to this optimum state.

  • What makes a healthy habit?

    You may be surprised to learn that more than 40 percent of the actions you perform every day aren’t actually decided by you. They’re actually habits. Habits dictate how we live, how we perform, and the results we achieve in life. This is why it is so important to have strong, positive habits.

    In case you’re wondering what habits consist of, think of them this way: something that you regularly do without having to consciously think about.

    According to Medical Dictionary, a healthy habit is

    “a behavior that is beneficial to one’s physical or mental health, often linked to a high level of discipline and self-control.”

    Positive habits are the basis of your success, while healthy habits improve your overall well-being and make you feel good. Good habits include things like regular exercise, a balanced diet, punctuality, keeping promises, etc.[1]

    Positive habits make it possible for us to do things without spending exorbitant mental effort. For instance, instead of thinking how to walk down the stairs in a morning, this is taken care of by your subconscious mind which has learned the habit of walking safely down stairs. You don’t need to think about moving your legs, and controlling your balance, etc.

    74 healthy habits to improve your overall well-being

    Now you understand what habits are, and the benefits positive habits offer, let’s take a look now at 74 healthy habits you should adopt to transform your life. These habits are broken into three sections:

    • Habits to build a healthy body
    • Habits for a healthy mind
    • Habits for healthy relationships

    Habits to build a healthy body

    A healthy body is the fundamentals to achieve anything you want. While it’s so important to maintain a fit and healthy body, many people are tempted to eat unhealthy food, skip exercises and lead an unhealthy lifestyle.

    Here’re 20 healthy habits you should start to take for a fitter body:

    1. Make sure you chew your food well 

    Most people gobble down their food, and don’t take the time to chew or enjoy it properly. If you’re one of these people, try slowing down your eating by chewing your food longer than you would normally do. You’ll enjoy the taste of your food more, and you’re likely to eat less too.

    2. Stock up on healthy food

    At home you snack on what’s in your cupboards, refrigerator and freezer. If all you have in there is ultra-processed foods like fries, chocolate and ice cream, then you’ll find yourself snacking on them (not a good idea). To break this habit, make sure you have loads of healthy foods in your home like dried fruits, seeds and nuts to help satisfy your hunger cravings.

    3. Aim to do 10,000 steps a day

    Sounds like a lot? Well, it’s actually the minimum amount recommend by fitness experts. It’s not too difficult to reach 10,000 steps in a day. Simply walk in the park in the morning and evening, and take the stairs instead of the elevator at work.

    4. Take a walk at lunchtime

    Lunchtimes don’t need to be just for eating. You can use the time to get some valuable air, light and exercise. I usually walk for half of my lunch break – the other half I leave for eating.

    5. Freeze your fruits and veggies

    This is a great thing to do, as freezing these foods means they’ll last until you’re ready to eat them. And of course you can freeze them when they’re at their peak, so they’ll taste great when defrosted and/or cooked. This technique is also a superb way to enjoy healthy fruits and veggies outside of their normal seasonal availability.

    6. Focus on colors, not calories

    Too many people put their health and diet focus on how many calories they are consuming every day. But a healthy diet is not just about calories.

    For example, there is a big difference between eating a handful of raw nuts and the same calorie amount of cake. Sure, the latter may taste better to you – but the nuts will always be the healthier choice.

    7. Add an extra serving of greens to your plate

    One simple way to boost your intake of healthy foods is to add an extra serving of greens to each of your meals. If you normally eat burger and fries (not recommended!), start adding a portion of peas or a green salad to your plate. Over time, you can start increasing the greens – and reducing the junk food.

    8. Be active outside the gym

    I’m sure you’ve spotted people at work who go to the gym most morning. They certainly know how to start their day well, but watch their habits after that. Often they sit down all day at their desk, and no doubt go home and chill out in front of the TV.

    While going to the gym is commendable, don’t make it your be all and end all. Get out in the fresh air and natural light and move your body the way nature intended – by walking and running.

    9. Eat carbs every day

    From time to time, carbs go out of fashion. We’re warned their bad for us, and we should avoid them. However, no-carb and low-carb diets usually end up as fads. That’s because carbs are actually are an excellent source of energy for our bodies.

    Of course, our ancestors lived and thrived on carb-heavy diets for thousands of years. Just make sure you’re choosing healthy carbs, such as: wholemeal breads, oatmeal and sweet potatoes:

    10. Choose healthy fats

    Not all fats are the same. Some are good for us, some are not. Which are the healthy fats? If you stick to cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil, nuts and avocados, you’ll be getting the essential nutrients you need – in the healthiest forms available.

    11. Don’t eat until you’re full

    A healthy person’s stomach is the size of a fist, while an unhealthy person’s stomach can be the size of a football. It’s a shocking fact. The cause of the grotesque stomach expansion is overeating. When this is done regularly, the stomach starts to stretch. Consequently, the person needs to eat more and more to maintain that full, satisfied feeling.

    How to avoid this? Always eat a little less than you think you need or would like. This will keep your stomach at its natural size – and your body at a healthy weight too.

    12. Avoid over exercising

    People who over exercise tend to age quicker than they should.[2] Most things in life come down to balance, and exercise is no exception. Over exercising for months and years will deplete your body of its vital energy – leaving you drained and feeling out-of-sync.

    13. Swap soft drinks for water

    Soft drinks are typically full of sugar (or artificial sweeteners), coloring and other nasties! They may taste good, but they’ll leave you feeling bad. Instead, ditch the soft drinks and switch to drinking mineral water or filtered tap water. Your body will thank you.

    14. Go to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual

    In today’s age of Netflix and YouTube, it’s all too easy to find yourself watching just one more video. Pre-internet, you’d have probably gone to bed two or three hours earlier than you currently do. My suggestion? You have an alarm to wake you up in the morning. How about setting an alarm to notify you when it’s time to turn off the TV and get yourself to bed.

    Sleep is a powerful restorative – so make you’re getting an adequate amount of it.

    15. Stop weighing yourself

    This ties in with my earlier comments about calories (see No. 6). Some people – perhaps including yourself – are fixated on their weight. They weigh themselves every morning and every night. If they lose weight, they’re ecstatic. But if they gain weight, they can quickly sink into depression.

    Now, please don’t get me wrong, you certainly should be aiming to have a healthy weight. However, this will be a natural consequence of eating healthily and exercising regularly.

    16. Cut down on your meat intake

    Have you heard of meat-free Mondays? This is exactly as it sounds, no meat eaten on every Monday. If you’re a big meat eater, then meat-free Mondays are a great way to immediately reduce your meat intake. And it will also introduce you to the delicious flavors available in vegetarian and vegan meals.

    17. Choose enjoyable exercise

    You might be putting off exercising as you don’t like going to the gym or running in the cold weather. Instead, why not choose fun exercises like dancing, yoga or a team sport? When exercise is fun, you’ll have much more motivation to do it regularly.

    18. Halve your sugar intake

    We all know that sugar is bad for us, but yet, most of us still consume masses of it every single day. The problem of course, is that sugar tastes great. So good, in fact, that we literally become addicted to it.

    Now, if I told you to go ‘cold turkey’ and cut out sugar completely from your diet tomorrow – you almost certainly wouldn’t be able to do it. That’s why I recommend a reasonable and attainable goal of halving your sugar intake. You can do this through simple steps like: reducing or cutting out sugar in tea or coffee, stopping adding sugar to your cereals, and choosing healthier snacks (see No. 2).

    19. Buy a reusable water bottle and keep it on your desk

    I used to come into the office and drink tea or coffee all day. I never thought about drinking water. Then I started to notice that some people brought in large, reusable water bottles that they kept sipping from throughout the working day. I decided to give this a go, and I was amazed by how easy it was to drink in excess of 500ml of water every day. And the best thing? I noticed that I felt more hydrated, more focused – and definitely healthier overall. Try it for yourself, and I’m sure, like me, you’ll never come to work without your water bottle.

    20. Turn off technology from time to time

    Technology is a great thing. It enables me to type these words – and for you to read them. But let’s be honest, it’s all too easy to become addicted to our TVs, laptops, tablets and smartphones. The majority of people are staring at one of these devices for most of their morning, afternoon, evening and beyond. It’s a non-stop world of emails, SMS messages, news feeds, social media updates, etc.

    My advice? Make sure you step out of this cycle of distraction by having regular breaks from your devices. For example, why not switch off all of your devices when you’re eating with your friends and family. Make conversation be your focus, instead of being absorbed by online stuff.

    Habits for a healthy mind

    Forming healthy habits for our mind is essential for our happiness and wellbeing. Here are 24 positive habits you can incorporate into your daily life to increase your mental wellbeing:

    21. Spend time in nature

    Being outside has found to have a profound effect on your mental wellbeing mainly due to exposure to sunshine increasing your serotonin levels. Research has also found that spending even a short amount of time around nature boosts your mood. Imagine spending a day in a place like this:

    22. Have something to look forward to

    Being in a state of positive anticipation and expectancy can increase your happiness level according to study published in the Official Journal of the International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies.[3] Planning something you enjoy and take comfort in, whether it’s a trip, a planned run, meeting friends or curling up with that book you’ve always wanted to read can keep you from dwelling on any negatives.

    23. Meditate

    Meditation is probably the most talked about concept in the happiness camps and it has good reasons to be synonymous with good mental health. Studies have shown regular meditation practices reduce stress, anxiety and health issues. The main reason is it can help reduce overthinking and create a more mindful mindset. It can come in the form of just sitting quietly, yoga, prayer or purposeful breathing.

    24. Move your body

    Endorphins are the chemicals in the brain that basically reduce the perception of pain. When you move your bodies, these are released and essentially tell your brain that all is well. Even if it’s just getting up from your chair, dancing around when doing the housework or taking up a regular exercise routine, these actions can increase the feel-good chemicals and elevate your mood.

    25. Learn something new

    People who continue to learn into adulthood have greater overall wellbeing. This could be because the brain is constantly being refreshed and rewired but also the sense of achievement, optimism and distraction it creates. In other words, it gives you purpose and focus increasing the ability to cope with stress. So learn a new language, take up painting or enrol in a course you’ve always fancied doing to create more mental wellbeing.

    26. Do something nice for someone

    Kindness may be seen as just good manners but being genuinely kind towards others increases your own happiness as well as theirs. Positive social interactions, no matter how small they may seem, boosts your feel-good vibrations. Giving compliments with pure intentions, holding a door open or offering to pay for a stranger’s coffee will keep you feeling good for the rest of the day. Do this on a regular basis and you’ll keep your positive mindset topped up as well as creating happiness for someone else.

    27. Re-evaluate toxic relationships

    Sometimes people’s mental wellbeing declines because they get used to being around people who bring them down. This can damage their self-esteem and self-worth but they often don’t associate this with others. You are the sum total of the five people we’re around the most. Ask yourself are these five people supportive, kind and fun to be around? If not, it may be time to rethink your relationships.

    28. Detox digitally

    The dangers of too much social media is commonly said. The comparison game can cause you to feel deflated and like failures if we’re not living how others are currently living. This in itself is reason to have a period of detox from your phone or computer. The digital world, as much as it enhances our lives, can take away our present moments and allows us to miss what’s really going on around us. Detoxing will give you that sense of freedom of time to do other things that will boost your mental health.

    29. Sleep more

    Sleep often gets ignored when we’re living busy lives but that’s no excuse. Getting adequate sleep is paramount to an optimum healthy mind. Sleep deprivation causes mood swings, irritability, health issues and all-round disfunction that affects how we think and causes us to react negatively to things happening in our daily lives. More sleep equates to a sense of peace and motivation through your day instead of stress and anxiety.

    30. Do things by yourself

    Low self-worth or self-esteem can cause people to believe that they can’t do things by themselves. The need to always have someone to do things with can create a sense of neediness and lack of self-love. Going off and doing things by yourself builds confidence and a sense of freedom.

    Don’t be afraid to be alone and make time for yourself; it’s a wonderful way to really reflect on yourself and have a breather away from others.

    31. Express gratitude

    Gratitude has been found to increase happiness and reduce stress creating a more positive mindset. People often get caught up on what didn’t go well in their day even if the majority of what happened was positive. A good habit to start is to think through your day and note everything that was great – from the straight-forward commute to work, a smile from a stranger, the delicious food you had for lunch or a text from your friend.

    32. Sit and stand up straight

    Body language is tightly connected to our mindset. When you slouch, it subconsciously creates the overall feeling of hostility, sluggishness, and negativity. When we sit or stand up straight it creates the feeling of power and confidence.

    33. Find something to laugh about

    Laughter is powerful as it reduces stress levels, improves mood and even short-term memory. Laughing together with someone is probably the best kind of laughter but just watching a funny TV show or even laughing by yourself can do the trick.

    34. Write things down

    Writing things down is very powerful because in the act of writing, the brain processes what’s being written down more slowly and so it becomes a kind of therapy. It can help you process emotions and identify difficult areas or limiting beliefs that continuous overthinking makes worse. Writing down goals and dreams can bring about a positive boost and making lists of past achievements can help show you successes in your life.

    35. Spend time with your pet

    Any loving animal can increase your feelings of positivity in small and meaningful ways. They decrease loneliness, get you active, create loving bonds, keep you present in the moment and give you purpose.

    36. Change your routine

    While routine can keep us comfortable, it also creates a sense of mundane life and can result in depression. Making just small changes in your routine can trick the brain into thinking you’re doing something completely different. It could be taking a different route to work, walking instead of taking the bus, going somewhere different for lunch or getting up slightly earlier in the morning. Changing things up creates variety and opens you up to different experiences and opportunities.

    37. Explore your city or town

    Being a tourist in your own town or city is not something people tend to consider. Pretend you’re visiting for the first time – what neighbourhoods would you visit? Where would you eat? Doing this can help you appreciate where you live and gain a different perspective to a familiar place which helps open up the mind.

    38. Practice forgiveness

    Forgiveness can be a hard concept for many. But a lot of our angst is caused by our inability to let things go and move on. This doesn’t mean condoning what someone has done but just dropping the negativity around it and moving forward. Studies have shown that forgiveness protects against stress and forgiving yourself is important too in order to release any baggage and self-hate and create a happy life.

    39. Connect with someone

    As social beings, we thrive on connection. When you’re feeling depressed, the last thing you want to do is talk or reach out to others. Keep in mind that talking to people, even just short conversations with friends or in support groups, can repair your sense of disconnection immensely. Relationships with others builds a sense of belonging and self-worth so make time to connect with someone.

    40. Spend a day being mindful

    This is a great way to examine how you move through your day. How does your breakfast taste? How do your legs feel when you’re walking? Where did the ingredients for your lunch come from? What emotions are you feeling in each moment?

    Don’t judge yourself but just be in each moment. Bringing your mind to the present moment can help reduce depression in the process.

    41. Consider a more positive perspective

    A negative mindset creates a negative life. If you’re in this category of seeing the glass as always being half empty maybe question why you think this way. It could simply stem from beliefs you’ve picked up but understand there is always a choice in how you see things.

    Choose to consider a different, more positive perspective next time. Doing this regularly will slowly help change the way you look at the world around you.

    42. Stop taking photos of everything

    While it’s great to take photos for keepsakes, spending too much time taking the photo rather than enjoying the moment can decrease our happiness. Psychologist Maryanne Garry of the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zeal has found taking endless photos “manipulates both our memories and subjective interpretations of lived experiences,”[4] meaning we end up remembering less and don’t fully appreciate the moment.

    43. Smile (even if it’s fake)

    Genuine smiles portray our inner happy feelings but research has found even fake smiling tricks the brain into thinking we’re happy.[5] So even if you’re in a quiet room by yourself, smile and you’ll notice overtime, it creates a sense of mental wellbeing.

    44. Do something that’s out of your comfort zone

    One of the main reasons people can become depressed is their need to stay comfortable. Blame this on the brain; it’s doing all it can to stop you from doing something fearful because it’s a survival mechanism – if you’re comfortable then you’re safe.

    Breaking out of comfort zones is never as scary as your brain imagines it to be and it creates confidence, wellbeing and opens up new and exciting possibilities.[6] The result? Better mental health.

    Habits for healthy relationships

    Being connected to others is crucial for our happiness.[7] Keeping strong connections with your family, friends, and your significant other can radically reshape how you view the world.

    These are the top 30 healthy habits that can strengthen your bonds with the people who matter most in your life:

    45. Respect your loved ones

    The foundation of any good relationship is the level of respect within it. Being honest, avoiding gossip, and valuing your loved ones for the unique individuals they are sets the tone for all your interactions.

    46. Thank them

    Showing gratitude can be as simple as a verbal “thank you” or a short note, but the effects are far-reaching. Whether your partner just did a load of dishes or your friend swooped in at the eleventh hour to save the day, don’t miss the chance to say thanks.

    47. Express yourself

    If you really love someone, don’t be afraid to let them know. Say, “I love you,” often, and when you say it, mean it. Tell your significant other, friends, and family how much you care about them. Be generous with your affection.

    48. Take a walk

    Taking a stroll through the neighborhood is a great way to reconnect with your friend or partner. These walks are a great chance to get some fresh air and catch up on life without having to spend an arm and a leg.

    49. Make each other laugh

    Humor is a powerful way to bond with one another. Never miss a chance to make your loved ones laugh. Be a goofball, watch a comedy, and don’t be afraid to crack a joke at your own expense occasionally.

    50. Set goals together

    This habit is especially important for romantic relationships, in which you’re operating as a team. When you don’t set goals together, you risk sabotaging one another. Uniting to overcome a challenge is a powerful way to bond.

    51. Take up a new hobby

    Nothing kills friendships and romances faster than boredom. Don’t let things stagnate. Pick up a new hobby that you’re both interested in every now and then. Challenge one another to perfect your skills, and reap the benefits of growing together.

    52. Do something nice “just because”

    A great surprise requires thoughtfulness. It can be as simple as showing up with a cup of coffee or picking up your partner’s favorite treat on your way home. Send your mother a bouquet of flowers at random, or offer to help your friend with a project. You’ll make their day and show them how much you care.

    53. Relax together

    It’s not necessary to turn every moment together into an elaborate outing. Friendships and romantic relationships with staying power are those which can thrive in everyday situations. Learn to love watching TV together, going for walks, or sharing simple meals.

    54. Take time for yourselves

    Even the closest couples and friends need time to explore their individual interests. You don’t have to like the same things to get along. Your individuality is likely part of what drew you to one another. Make sure that you and your loved ones get time to nourish their talents and interests.

    55. Reconnect on a regular basis

    Texting and calling 24/7 isn’t a healthy habit, but touching base is great for a romantic relationship. For friends and family, it isn’t necessary to send a message every day, but connecting periodically gives you a chance to share your lives.

    56. Do chores together

    For couples, working in the house together prevents one party from feeling resentful toward the other. A 2007 study found that 62% of couples believe that sharing chores leads to a successful partnership.

    57. Take time to snuggle

    Physical contact influences how you feel about your significant other. The act of cuddling causes your bodies to release oxytocin, a hormone responsible for bonding. Hugging also causes the release of oxytocin, so this healthy habit applies to non-romantic relationships as well.

    58. Tell them what you love about them

    Saying, “I love you,” is great, but sometimes it’s nice to back the sentiment up with some examples. Let your friends and partner know what specific attributes you love about them. This confidence boost helps them weather whatever storms come their way.

    59. Pay attention

    Asking thoughtful questions and responding may seem like common sense, but many friend, family, and love relationships lack attentiveness. Listen deeply. Make eye contact. When a loved one talks to you, they should feel that they have your undivided attention.

    60. Figure out their love language (and speak it)

    The 5 Love Languages: Secrets to Love that Last, tells us that there are five main ways that people give and receive love. Knowing your significant other’s love language helps you learn the best ways to show your love based on their needs. It’s worth noting that the love languages are not limited to romantic relationships.

    61. Ask about their day

    This is a great way to start any conversation, whether your chatting with your dad or talking to your best friend. You’ll get a ton of information that can help you be present for them, and you’ll show that you’re genuinely interested in their life by asking this simple question.

    62. Be honest

    Honesty is critical for any relationship. When you care about someone long, you must be able to tell them the truth. They’re counting on you to be someone they can trust. Besides, it’s kinder than lying, and you never have to worry about them finding out that you fibbed.

    63. Be their cheerleader

    We all encounter challenges, but having someone who can cheer you on your worst day is a real gift. Be the person who can give them the encouragement they need to face whatever is in front of them. Sometimes your loved ones just need to know that you believe in them.

    64. Unplug to reconnect

    You can’t have quality time if you’ve got your heads buried in your phones, video games, or laptops. You can certainly enjoy those things with one another, but commit to spending some time together screen-free as well. If you’re out to lunch, make a no-screen policy so that you can actively listen to one another.

    65. Show that you’re loyal

    Fidelity is a no-brainer in a romantic relationship. Fidelity isn’t the only way to show loyalty, though. In all your relationships, be sure to shut down gossip and stand up for loved ones even if they can’t stand up for themselves.

    66. Be the person they can count on

    Your partner and friends should know that whether they had a bad day at work, or they’re sick, you are always ready to jump in and help. When things are going poorly for your family, your parents and siblings, know they can turn to you. You’re there on time every time they need you to be, and you mean what you say.

    67. Pull your weight

    It’s unfair to expect one partner or friend to shoulder the burden for everything. You don’t have to split every responsibility down the middle, but you do need to reach an agreement so that neither of you carry the load alone.[8] This applies to things like household chores, but it also relates to things like deciding where to eat or choosing an outing.

    68. Make time for them

    Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People once said:

    “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

    If you want your relationships to last, you have to make them a priority. Schedule “appointments” with loved ones if you have trouble making the time to connect with them.

    69. Love without judgement

    Unless their behavior is a deal breaker, re-frame how you think about the other person’s flaws. To have real love, you have to love the real person. To see who someone truly is, they have to feel safe enough to show you without feeling judged. Your family, friends, and significant other should know that you love them, warts and all.

    70. Forgive their mistakes

    You aren’t perfect, and neither are your friends, your partner, or your family. When someone you love messes up, put yourself in their shoes. If it’s not worth ending the relationship over the mistake, forgive the person.

    71. Be vulnerable and accept vulnerability

    Being vulnerable can require practice in friendships and romantic relationships. With friends, this is your chance to show them who you are, and it gives them permission to be more open with you. With your partner, vulnerability with one another builds trust.

    72. Start the day with them

    For couples, beginning each day with your partner is a show of solidarity. Even if you work opposite schedules, you can find ways to share the beginning of a new day together. Write a note or spend a few minutes in the morning seeing them off.

    73. Call it a day together

    You don’t necessarily need to be on the same sleep schedule as your partner, but winding down together is a healthy habit. This act builds trust, and it gives you one more chance to reflect on the day.

    74. Make decisions as a team

    Independence is great, but when a decision you need to make will have a serious effect on your family, friends, or partner, it’s best to include them in the process. Remember that you’re in it together, and take time to establish how your team will communicate about major life decisions.

    Taking up the healthy habits

    To take up these healthy habits, pick one from the list and focus on that first. Check out our step-by-step guide on How to Build Good Habits and start leading a healthy lifestyle.

    When you put in the time to develop these 74 healthy habits, the effort that you put into your body, mind and relationships will come back to you many times over.

    Featured photo credit: Free-Photos via pixabay.com

    Reference

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    How to Have a Great Dining Experience the Budget-Friendly Way (From a Restaurant Insider)

    You know that you have total control over the ingredients, the preparation, and the portions when you’re preparing food at home. It’s the safest option. It’s healthier and cheaper than eating out too. However, sometimes you find yourself eating out due to necessity or just because you want a nice night out.

    There are so many great restaurant options out there now that target very specific dietary requirements, from vegan to paleo. Once you’ve settled on a place that looks good, how do you get the best experience from the restaurant?

    Along with working in fitness and nutrition, I’ve spent years working in restaurants, so I’ve seen a lot along the way. Let me share seven great tips to get the most out of your dining experience.

    1. If you want a table for two, book a table for three

    Every square foot in a restaurant means money. Tables of two can be stuck anywhere and tend to be pushed to the side or lumped all together. If you’re looking for a comfortable and more private night out for the two of you, reserve a table for three. It will get you a better location and more room.

    2. Look for these first two indicators of a good restaurant

    I’ve worked with secret dinners and one of the big ones on the list is the bathrooms. This will give you a good indication of not only the cleanliness of the place but the attention to detail. Washrooms should be spotless. If you see a messy and dirty bathroom, I can promise you the kitchen is in a similar condition. A dirty kitchen ends up serving dirty food.

    The next indicator of a good place is the type of bread and butter, or free starters that come out. How often have you had a rock hard roll and frozen butter that tears it apart when you start to spread? I’m pretty sure the rest of the meal was nothing to write home about.

    A good restaurant should serve warm, fresh and ideally baked in-house that day bread with soft spreadable butter. Bonus points if they serve butter with grain mustard or an assortment of oils and balsamic kinds of vinegar. This is a good sign that they take pride and care in the preparation of their food.

    3. Look out for the decoy effect

    If you’re a wine drinker, purely for the antioxidant benefits.., look out for what’s called the decoy effect. The decoy effect works like this: If there are two wines on the menu for $9 and $16 which would you choose? There’s honestly not a huge difference price wise and not a huge scale of reference. Now if you add a $47 wine into the mix most of the time people will go for the $16 one. The perceived value has changed and something you may not have bought because it seemed too high now appears as inexpensive and good value.

    Wine lists will always have a few of these very expensive decoy wines at the top of the list to make the other ones appear cheaper. The trick is to have a few favorite wine and get familiar with the pricing and look for those ones whenever you dine out.

    4. Have them make your own salad dressing

    Any restaurant worth its salt should be making everything in-house including sauces and salad dressings. Even though they are made from scratch, many salad dressing can be high in fat and even sugar. If you’re in a chain restaurant, ditch them all together as you’re guaranteed to be getting a dose of trans fat *cough* Caesar salad *cough*.

    Instead, ask them to make you a simple olive oil and red wine or balsamic vinegar dressing to come on the side. It’s the healthier option and you can control the amount you use.

    5. Ask your server what they eat

    I do this everywhere I go. After a while of working in a restaurant, all the dishes and items tend to just become products to the staff and they’re probably bored of most of them. If you want to find the best stuff on the menu, ask your server or hostess what they eat when they’re there. It’s a good way to find the really best stuff on the menu.

    6. Avoid ice in your drinks

    O.K time to get a little gross. Ice machines are not regularly cleaned, trust me, it’s a pain. This leads to a lot of bacteria growth that ends up in your drink. Six out of ten restaurants have been found to have more bacteria in the ice than in the toilet water.[1] This is because the toilets are more regularly cleaned than the ice machine. Even though it’s cold, bacteria still grows.

    7. Avoid fruit in your drinks

    I’m a very clean person and am aware of keeping my hands clean. But when I was a bartender, it was pretty impossible. Hands used to grab dirty glasses are then grabbing fruit that goes into your drink. A lot of the time, the fruit at the bar is never washed and is easily contaminated by whatever else the bartender has touched from dirty dishes and utensils to the rims of glasses other people have drunk out of.

    Just to concern you further on this fruit issue The Journal Of Environmental Health took samples of lemon slices from 21 different restaurants and found 70% of the samples to contain twenty-five different microbial contents.[2]

    Everyone loves a good meal out and it’s always a great eye opener to see what real chefs can come up with using simple ingredients. I’m sure you’ve had good restaurant experiences and plenty of bad ones too. Hopefully with some of these tips, you’ll be able to set yourself up for some more good ones.

    Just don’t forget to check the bathrooms…

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

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    How to Hack Your Brain and Reprogram Your Habits (Like a Computer)

    Do you struggle with overcoming bad habits? Do you find it difficult to stick with an exercise routine and constantly find yourself back where you started? If so, what would you think if I told you that you could reprogram your bad habits similar to how a computer programmer programs code? Sounds crazy right? Yet, it’s not.

    Similar to programming computer code, it is possible to reprogram deeply ingrained habits. Computer coding is a perfect metaphor for writing, hacking, or reprogramming our own instructions. We see this when we compare computer coding to habit formation. Think of trying to break bad habits and form new positive habits. Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit remarked,

    What we know from lab studies is that it’s never too late to break a habit. Habits are malleable throughout your entire life. But we also know that the best way to change a habit is to understand its structure – that once you tell people about the cue and the reward and you force them to recognize what those factors are in a behavior, it becomes much, much easier to change.

    So what exactly is computer coding, habit formation, and how can we reprogram our deeply ingrained habits?

    What is Coding?

    Coding is a finished set of instructions known as a program. We must write a code in a specific way for the program to work. In essence, we must write code in a language for which a computer can understand it. Many different computer languages exist, such as: HTML5, CSS, C, C++, Python, and JavaScript.

    Think of our life as a finished set of instructions. In order to reprogram it, we must write our own code in a way that will change our bad habits. Essentially, we must find a reward system our mind and body can latch on to.

    Vomputer code is similar to human DNA and it operates exactly like the code in computer software. Juan Enriquez informs us,[1]

    Sequencing DNA decodes its programmatic intentions through its relationship to a combination of four letters of our alphabet: A, C, T, and G.

    DNA is a self-replicating material present in all living life-forms and carries our genetic information. Tom Bunzel demonstrates the similarities in his book DNA is Software, Who “Wrote” the Code?  by placing a sequenced genetic code side by side with Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), which is the code for a web page.

    Coding as a Metaphor for Writing Instructions for Life

    My intent here is not to ask who or what wrote our life code (or even how it is done). My intent is to demonstrate that computer programming language (code) is a metaphor for life. The computer program is our life, where the computer code is our habits.

    We can change our habits and switch genes off and on through epigenetics. We know that contemporary geneticists are able to switch genes on and off using DNA internal software. Essentially, they are copying and pasting code.[2]

    Moreover, coding is writing instructions for computers, where a finished set of instructions is a computer program. Life is no different. Just as coding is writing instructions for a computer, our daily actions and habits are writing instructions for life. Learning to code will create a better computer program, so why not learn your code to build a better you?

    Coding (Habit Breaking) Instructions

    Charles Duhigg writes that every habit starts with a psychological pattern called a “habit loop” which is a three-part process.[3]

    First, we find the cue or trigger informing our brain to go into automatic mode. Second, we identify the routine, which is the behavior itself. Third, we identify the reward, which is the thing that makes our brain remember the “habit loop” in the future.

    Let’s examine how Duhigg used the “habit loop” to break his habit of going to the cafeteria and buying a chocolate chip cookie every afternoon.

    Step 1: Identify the routine

    Similar to understanding the structure and components of computer code, Duhigg writes that we must first understand the components of our loop.

    Step 2: Experiment with rewards

    We use specific inputs when we code, so why not change the inputs to see if we get a different output. Similarly, Duhigg experimented with his reward by adjusting his routine to see if it would deliver a different type of reward. For example, instead of walking to the cafeteria, he walked around the block.

    Step 3: Isolate the cue

    Duhigg says that we can ask ourselves (and record our answers) five things the moment an urge hits us in order to diagnose our habit. These questions are key to hacking our code (habits).

    1. Where are you?
    2. What time is it?
    3. What’s your emotional state?
    4. Who else is around?
    5. What action preceded the urge?

    Step 4: Have a plan

    Duhigg found once we figure out our “habit loop” we can shift our behavior. This is similar to rewriting code.

    “Put another way, a habit is a formula our brain automatically follows: When I see CUE, I will do ROUTINE in order to get a REWARD.” – Charles Duhigg

    Following Duhigg’s advice, we can reprogram or hack our code (habits) by actively making choices. We do this by making plans and a great strategy for this is through implementation intentions.

    If-Then Strategy

    An “If-Then” strategy is no different than computer language. IF you write a code, THEN you will get an output.

    This is where the computer coding // human life metaphor makes the most sense to me. For example, let’s first imagine we are born as a blank smartphone.

    Now let’s visualize two different outputs for a sprite or image on our phone (representing us). This image represents two possibilities for our future life. We can become a healthy and fit person or we can become an overweight and depressed person.

    We must learn to code or write instructions in order to become the healthy and fit person. Essentially, we must learn to reprogram (or code) our life.

    We can write instructions for our finished program (our life). I have identified specific instructions coded for my life in the image below. These instructions can also be imagined as habits.

    Let’s examine some of the larger blocks of code I have built (where the output has created a healthy and fit person): morning routine, exercise, nutrition, water, knowledge, education, family, spirituality, and employment.

    Essentially, IF we following a morning routine, we can THEN jump start a healthy morning workout.

    IF we exercise, hydrate and eat right, we can THEN look and feel better.

    IF we strive to improve our knowledge and experience a close relationship with our family, THEN we can live a happy and healthy life.

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

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    How to Explain Difficult And Abstract Concepts (The Smart Way)

    Albert Einstein said,

    If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.

    But a lot of times, we struggle about how to explain some difficult, or even abstract concepts to others.

    In this article, I will provide you with a solution: metaphor. Explaining and examining concepts using metaphors improves our thinking.

    Metaphorical thinking is a great way to analyze and synthesize abstract concepts such as cyber security. In a report issued by Sandia National Laboratories for the U.S. Department of Energy, a research team explored metaphors for cyber security. By thinking metaphorically, they found it improved their thinking and discussion of cyber security in four ways:[1]

    1. They gained a clear understanding of the value and limitations of cyber security concepts.
    2. Using less common and new metaphors sparked their imagination.
    3. Metaphors that work well might be developed into new models for approaching cyber security problems.
    4. Metaphors serve as a heuristic purpose, bringing a clear understanding of abstract concepts from the field of cyber security into domains with which the non-specialist may be more familiar.

    What exactly are metaphors?

    Before we examine some metaphors, let’s first define what a metaphor is. In Metaphors We Live By, George Lakoff and Mark Johnson define metaphor in this way:

    Conceptual metaphors are grounded in everyday experience. They are abstract. Our conceptual systems are not consistent overall, since the metaphors used to reason about any concept may be inconsistent. We live our lives on the basis of inferences we derive via metaphor.

    On the other hand, Zoltan Kovecses defines a metaphor in Metaphor: A Practical Introduction as:

    Metaphor is defined as understanding one conceptual domain in terms of another conceptual domain. Examples of this include when we talk and think about life in terms of journeys. A convenient shorthand way of capturing this view of metaphor is the following: conceptual domain (A) is conceptual domain (B), which is what is called a conceptual metaphor. A conceptual metaphor consists of two conceptual domains, in which one domain is understood in terms of another.

    Metaphors = High Definition Thinking

    Let’s examine some metaphors to help with the understanding of cyber warfare and cyber security. My inspiration for the creation of the format for my ideas that follow came from Bigthink.com.

    Cyber Warfare // Wei-Chi

    For more information on this concept, read In Athena’s Camp.

    Cyber Warfare // Pests

    For more information on this concept, read here Lessons from pest control: Why the popular metaphors in cybersecurity are broken.

    Phishing // Fishing

    Malware Scan // Health Screening

    Worms or Virus // Infectious Disease

    Thinking about concepts using metaphors leads to a deeper understanding of an idea and leads to new and creative approaches. They are a way for us to fill in the gap and create connections in our mind regarding a concept.

    Using the ideas above, what are some metaphors you can think of for difficult and abstract concepts?

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    Reference

    [1] Karas, Moore, and Parrott: Metaphors for Cyber Security

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