Games People Play


Here’s the second book from 2012. Same circumstance as the last one. This also completes 2012 as far as I know.

Social Intercoursegames-people-play

  • Stimulus hunger / emotional deprivation

    • Most favored form: physical intimacy

    • On a biological chain, same relationship to survival as food-hunger

  • Sensory Deprivation

    • E.g. solitary imprisonment

  • Both can bring / encourage biological changes

  • Similarly to hunger for food

  • Transformation from infant’s stimulus hunger into recognition-hunger

    • Varies between people; film star: many „strokes“ per week; scientist one „stroke“ from a master per year

  • “stroke“ unit of social action

    • can be a stroke, pinch, or even non-physical => some acts of recognition

  • Any social intercourse is better than none

Structuring of Time

  • After recognition-hunger comes structure-hunger

  • „What do you say to him/her then…?“

  • Programming the time

    • Material

      • Mainly measurement and probability estimates

      • Social factor is subordinated

    • Social

      • Traditional (semi)-ritualistic interchanges

    • Individual

      • When you know people better

      • People often play “games”

        • Regulated environment

        • Substitute for real intimacy

    • Examples

      • Pre-defined activities by work

  • Structuring time is important because boredom can lead to emotional starvation

    • Solitary person can structure time in

      • Activity

      • Fantasy

    • Member of social aggregation

      • Rituals

      • Pastimes

      • Games

      • Intimacy

      • Activity

    • Gains of social contact

      • Relief of tension

      • Avoidance of noxious situations

      • Procurement of stroking

      • Maintenance of an established equilibrium


Structural Analysis

  • Ego states

    • Different states with feelings and body posture

    • Coherent feeling & behavior patterns

    • Grouped in

      • Resembles parental figures [exterophysic / Parent]

      • Autonomously directed towards objective appraisal of reality [neopsychic / Adult]

      • Represents archaic relics which were fixated in early childhood [archaeopsychic / Child]

    • Means that you act like your parent, objectively or like a child would

    • Implications

      • Everyone carries his parents around inside of him

      • Everyone has an Adult

      • Everyone carries a little child around inside of him

    • Structural Diagram of ego states

      • Parent

      • Adult

      • Child

    • Remarks

      • Child can be charming, pleasuring and creative

      • Adult can be

        • Direct: Do as I do

        • Indirect: Don’t do as I do, do as I say – requirements

      • Child can be

        • Adapted: behaves like its parent would what him to

        • Natural: spontaneous expression

      • Adult is essential for survival

        • Calculates probabilities

        • Processes data

        • Regulate activities

        • Mediate between child and adult

      • Parent helps

        • Act as parent of actual children

        • Makes many responses automatic

Transactional Analysis

  • Unit of social intercourse = transaction

  • Start of transaction: transactional stimulus [ego state one]

  • Response: transactional response [ego state two]

  • Ego states by difficulty (easiest first)

    • Adult — Adult [Complementary Transaction Type I]

    • Child — Parent [Complementary Transaction Type II]

  • Communication breaks if a crossed transaction occurs

    • Most problematic: Crossed Transaction Type I

      • Stimulus: Adult — Adult

      • Response: Child — Parent

      • => Crossed transaction

    • Crossed Transaction Type II

      • Stimulus: Adult — Adult

      • Response: Parent — Child

  • Ulterior, simple: Angular transactions

    • Focuses on two ego states, e.g. Adult and Child

      • Stimulus: “This one is better” (A) “… but you can’t afford it” (A2)

      • Response: as (A) “That’s the one I’ll take” (C)

  • Ulterior, duplex: ulterior transaction

    • Four ego states, e.g. flirtation

      • Adult — Adult, about the topic

      • Child — Child, about a sex play

Procedures and Rituals

  • Procedure = series of simple complementary Adult transactions manipulating reality

  • Reality can be

    • Static: all possible arrangements of matter, e.g. arithmetic

    • Dynamic: possibilities of interactions of all energy systems, e.g. chemistry

  • Effectiveness = actual results

  • Efficiency = psychological criterion, can be contaminated by Parent or Child

  • Ritual = stereotyped series of simple complementary transactions programmed by external social forces

    • Often used by people to achieve some amount of strokes

    • You can see strokes as some kind of currency; if people don’t get their strokes they will have hunger

  • Procedures and rituals are somewhat predictable

  • Rituals can be evaded by using procedures as a substitute


  • Simple pastime = series of semi-ritualistic, simple, complementary transactions arranged around a single field of material, whose primary object is to structure an interval of time

    • Beginning and end are often signaled by procedures or rituals

    • Maximum gain for each party

    • Higher adaption will mean higher gain

  • E.g. chit-chat, cocktail parties, discussions about topics that interests a group

  • Games can be played on different levels, e.g. ‘PTA’

    • A — A: talks about school reforms

    • P — P: how the kids are lazy

  • Different topics and ego states don’t mix well

  • Help stabilizing positions of persons (existential advantage)

  • Positions become fixed early (first to seventh year)

    • Positions of adults tell a lot about their childhood

    • If there’s no intervention, people try to defend their positions or try to avoid contradictions


  • (Set of) simple transactions for a stated purpose


  • game = ongoing series of complementary ulterior transactions progressing to a well-defined, predictable outcome

  • Series of moves with a snare or ‘gimmick’

  • Difference to procedures, rituals, and pastimes

    • Ulterior quality

    • Payoff

  • Every game is

    • basically dishonest

    • outcome has a dramatic quality

  • Dynamic instead of static like attitudes

  • The stimulus player will lapse into the state ‘despair’ if the response player will refuse to play the game


Life Games


  • Process:

    • Player drinks and gets a hang over frequently

    • Partner [Persecutor] often want to stop this habit

    • Third player [Rescuer] is concerned with player and wants to help

    • Player stops for some time and then starts again

    • Fourth player will protect player from his partner who don’t understand him [Patsy / Dummy]

    • Agitator: provides supplies without even being asked for them

  • The real pleasure doesn’t come from drinking

    • Pleasure from talking about suffering

  • Pastimes:

    • ‘Martini’: how many drinks and how they were mixed (social drinker)

    • ‘Morning After’: Let me tell you about my hangover (alcoholics)

  • Related:

    • ‘Dry Alcoholic’: Goes to the process of financial or social degradation without a bottle

    • ‘Addict’: more sinister, more dramatic, more sensational and faster

  • Rescuer sometimes encourage the player to drink, so that the game continues

  • Games from others:

    • Rescuer: ‘I’m only trying to help you’

    • Persecutor: ‘Look What you’ve done to me’

    • Patsy: ‘Good Joe’ — how can I help people?

    • Players shift to play ‘Wooden Leg’ because rescue organizations promote that alcoholism is a disease which allows the game to continue

  • Player has to stop the game

    • Often players are going to play an other game because they are afraid of intimacy

  • Antithesis:

    • Being the adult in the relationship

      • Often problematic because the public wants people to play the game

      • One clinic cured people by stopping the game which was done by not entering — this was responded by indignation and the treatment stopped


  • Process:

    • Player takes on debt — gives him a ‘purpose’

    • Further moves, see TAC and TAG-AWI

  • Related:

    • ‘If it weren’t for the debts’ — mild form

    • ‘Try and Collect’ (TAC):

      • buy lot of stuff on credit

      • try to escape creditor

      • creditor is determined to collect the money

        • Player gets angry and play ‘Now I’ve got you, you son of a bitch’ — demonstrates that the creditor is greedy and ruthless

    • ‘Try and Get Away With It’ (TAG-AWI)

      • players are small landlords

      • regardless of outcome, player can play ‘Why does this always happen to me?’

  • Antithesis:

    • TAC: Request immediate payment in cash

    • TAGAWI: Promptness and honesty

Kick Me

  • Player tries to attract misfortune

  • ‘Why does this always happen to me?’ (WAHM)

    • inverse pride: ‘My misfortunes are better than yours’

  • Positive form: ‘What did I really do to deserve this?

Now I’ve got you, you son of a bitch

  • Player tries to find an error in an agreed on contract and then exploits this fact to be furious

  • Related:

    • ‘Ain’t it awful’ (AIA)

    • seeks injustice in order to complain about them to a third party [Confidant]

    • Confidant also often plays AIA

  • Antithesis:

    • Correct behavior

    • Contractual structure should be explicitly stated in detail at the first opportunity and strictly adhered to

    • Yield gracefully without dispute if errors happen

See what you made me do (SWYMD)

  • First-Degree:

    • White is in an activity that tends to insulate him against other persons

    • Other person interrupts him and leads him to make an error

  • Second-Degree:

    • White takes SWYMD as a basis for life

    • Let other people take a decision

      • If it is good, he enjoys it

      • Otherwise, he plays ‘You got me into this’ (UGMIT) (variation of SWYMD)

      • He can also play: ‘I told you so’ or ‘See what you’ve done now’

  • Third-Degree:

    • Paranoid people play this against people who want to give them advice

    • SWYMD-UGMIT classical combination for cover game contract in many marriages

  • Antithesis:

    • First-Degree: leave player alone

    • Second-Degree: Give decision back to white

    • Third-Degree: Therapy

Martial Games


  • Couple begins process which leads to intimacy

  • One player mentions something the other one don’t want to hear so that she can escape intimacy

  • Antithesis:

    • Response player doesn’t try to offend other player

    • Initial player just ignores remarks

  • Related:

    • ‘Dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t’ — Player says to other one, that he doesn’t do X, but if he does X player will criticize him

    • ‘Lunch Bag’ — husband takes leftovers and makes himself lunch for work

      • Wife must be some kind of self-less

      • Husband has the privilege of eating lunch by himself

      • Possibility of catching up work


  • Players:

    • Plaintiff – husband

    • Defendant – wife

    • Judge – therapist

  • Antithesis:

    • Therapist says to husband: ‘you’re absolutely right’ – asks how the husband feels about this, then corrects his statement and says that he feels that the husband is actually wrong

      • If the husband is honest: game doesn’t progress

      • If he is not honest, he will show some kind of reaction and the game can progress

    • Alternatively: Husband and wife are not allowed to talk to a third-party; they can only talk about you (partner) or themselves => game stops

Frigid Woman

  • Husband advances his wife but is repulsed

  • Repeat this until his wife says that all men are beasts, he doesn’t really love her or is only interest in sex

  • Some time after that he stops trying

  • The wife becomes forgetful and may walk half-dressed in the bedroom or flirts with other men at parties if she’s heavily drunk

  • Husband tries to approach her again but is repulsed

  • Wife starts ‘Uproar’ — which takes the place of sex

  • Husband stops completely

  • Wife again starts provoking him until she approaches and kisses him

  • Husband starts to engage with her until the wife stops and says “All men are beasts, all I wanted was affection, but all you are interested is in sex”

  • Related:

    • ‘Rapo’

  • Antithesis:

    • All highly dangerous

    • Taking a mistress

    • Husband takes psychotherapy

    • Best: Both go into therapy together


  • Housewife which is at home, often with kids, cleaning, etc

  • Starts with ITWFY and ‘Blemish’

  • Then ‘Harried’ starts

    • She will do everything

    • Act on demands

    • Volunteer every time

    • Then she will crash and don’t do anything

    • After that happens some times, she will get untidy & develops symptoms

  • Antithesis:

    • She must stop being every role simultaneously

Look how hard I tried

  • Process:

    • White goes in therapy with his spouse but resists it

    • At home, he finally gives in and tries to cooperate

    • After some therapy sessions he refuses to come any longer

    • Now his wife is forced to take the next step (e.g. divorce)

    • The husband is now blameless

  • Antithesis:

    • White is declared as not ready for a therapy

  • Related:

    • ‘I am helpless’ / ‘I’m blameless’: Child let parent take the responsibility

    • ‘Look hard I was trying’

      • Ex. Husband has gastric ulcer

      • First degree: tells everybody but still continues working — gets everybody’s admiration

      • Second degree: Don’t tell anyone, works till he collapses — wife now is plagued with guilt and in a corner position

      • Third degree: The cancer progresses until the husband kills himself saying that he was trying


  • Spouse makes derogatory remark and ends with: ‘Isn’t that right, sweetheart?’

    • Partner often agrees because

      • Correcting small details would be seen as pedantic

      • People don’t want to disagree with someone calling one ‘sweetheart’

      • Partner helps them to tell about misfortunes

  • Antithesis:

    • Be offensive and direct

    • Say ‘Yes, honey”

Party Games

Ain’t it awful

  • ‘Nowadays’

    • self-righteous, punitive Parental pastime

    • ‘You can’t trust anybody, nowadays’

  • ‘Broken Skin’

    • Slogan: ‘What a pity’

    • Talks about health issues

    • Positive outlook is seen as betrayal

  • ‘Water Cooler’ or ‘Coffee Break’

    • Three-handed game

    • Character ‘They’

    • ‘Look what they’re doing to us now’


  • Starts out with a depressive Child position ‘I am no good’

  • Which is then transformed into a Parental position ‘They are no good’

  • Player only feels comfortable with a new person if they find their blemish

  • This can develop into authoritarian personalities


  • Schlemiel means cunning

  • The victim is often a ‘good-natured fellow’

  • Moves:

    • White makes some mistakes that involve black

    • Black may respond with rage but know that then white will win the game

    • White says that he’s sorry

    • Black forgives white

    • White continues to destroy black’s property

  • Antithesis:

    • Don’t offer the demanded absolution

      • ‘Tonight you can embarrass my wife, ruin the furniture and wreck the rug, but please don’t say “I’m sorry”’

Why don’t you – Yes but (YDYB)

  • Moves:

    • White complains about a problem

    • Other players offer solutions “Why don’t you try X’

    • White responds with ‘Yes, but Z” where Z is an other problem

  • The game helps to reassure and gratify the Child

  • Payoff:

    • Game usually ends in silence

    • Meaning that nobody has a solution

  • Antithesis:

    • Responders play ‘I’m only trying to help you’ (ITHY)

    • Don’t play ITHY — ‘That is a difficult problem. What are you going to do about it?’

    • ‘X didn’t work’ — ‘That’s too bad’

Sexual Games

Let’s you and him fight (LYAHF)

  • Manouevre: Woman will let two men fight for her and fulfills her promise

  • Ritual: She already made her decision and if this men loses she must live with the wrong man

  • Game: While the two men are fighting, she meets up with a third man


  • First-Degree: Woman flirts with men, as soon he has committed the game is over

  • Second-Degree: White’s primary gratification comes from rejecting him

  • Third-Degree: White leads black into a compromising physical contact and then claims that he has raped or done other harm to her

    • Society can force white to Third-Degree because the sexual contact isn’t accepted

  • Antithesis:

    • The man has to distinguish game from real moves

Stocking Game

  • Moves:

    • Woman (White) comes into a strange group and exposes herself in a provocative way

    • Men get aroused and other women are angry

    • White plays innocent

  • White tries to prove her cynical world view

  • Antithesis:

    • Other women should handle the game


  • Often played by teenage daughters and fathers

  • Moves:

    • White finds a fault in black or the other way around

    • The outcome can end in

      • White retires into his bedroom and slams the door

      • Black retires into her bedroom and slams the door

      • Or both retire and slam the doors

  • Slamming of the doors highlights the fact that they have different bedrooms

    • Avoidance of sexual intimacy

  • Antithesis:

    • Often daughters try to leave the house early, e.g. premature marriage

    • Father finds an outside sexual interest

Good Games

Busman’s Holiday

  • Rather a pastime than a game

  • Player works his profession in an other country in his holidays


  • Men compliments a woman whenever possible but within appropriate limits

  • They don’t want to offer themselves but their work (e.g. poetry)

Happy to Help

  • Player helps or spends money with some ulterior motive


The significance of games

  • Games are passed on from generation to generation unless there is a successful intervention

  • People who play the same games have often offspring

  • ‘Raising’ children is often teaching them games

  • Society teaches that intimacy is not welcomed but in privacy which leads to playing games

  • People have friends who play the same games as them

The players

  • The more disturbed people are, the harder they play

  • Two classes play the games with the greatest conviction:

    • Sulks

      • Man who is angry at his mother

      • He doesn’t like women

      • Similarly with female sulks

    • Jerks / Squares

      • People who are overly sensitive to Parental influences


  • Release of three capacities

  • Awareness

    • ‘Where is the mind when the body is here?’

      • Thinking about some event

      • Immerse in the activity

      • Is aware to the environment

  • Spontaneity

    • Option, the freedom to choose

    • Liberation from the compulsion to play games

  • Intimacy

    • Spontaneous, game-free candidness of an aware person

    • Uncorrupted Child living in the here and now

Introducing Positive Psychology


I’ve read this book in 2012 and wrote the notes around this time. I won’t add anything. It’s just for the sake of completion.

  • “Positive psychology is the scientific study of optimal human functioning and what makes life worth living”

  • Founders

    • Martin Seligman

    • Mihaly Csiskszentmihalyi

  • Journals

    • Journal of Positive Psychology

    • Psychology of Well-being

    • Journal of Happiness Studies

    • International Journal of Well-being

  • 40% of our happiness is determined by intentional activities

  • Well-being journal

    • Record activities and how you get on with them

    • Start off with an initial level

      • Positive psychology center: four question general happiness scale, five question satisfaction with life scale and 24-question authentic happiness inventory

  • Happiness is less about ‘having’ and more about ‘doing’

  • Changing how you spend your time and your outlook on life helps achieving long-lasting happiness

What is happiness?

  • Hedonic well-being: feeling pleasure

  • Eudaimonic well-being: doing what is worth doing; meaning and purpose in your life, fulfilling our potential and feeling that we are part of something bigger than you

  • Subjective Well-Being (SWB) = Satisfaction with Life + Positive Emotion – Negative Emotion

    • Satisfaction with life: what I think about my life

    • Positive Emotion: how positive I feel

    • Negative Emotion: how negative I feel

  • PERMA (M. Seligman)

    • Positive emotion

    • Engagement (flow)

    • Relationships

    • Meaning

    • Accomplishment

Barriers to well-being

  • Barrier: negativity bias

    • You are more likely to remember bad things (experiences, emotions & information) than good ones

    • Positivity ratio if 3:1 (Losada line), means you will need three times the positive experiences to flourish

    • “bad is stronger than good”

    • > try to make a conscious effort to notice and focus on the good things in your life first

  • Barrier: duration neglect

    • Duration hardly matters at all

    • More important factors

      • Intensity of the peak emotion

      • The end of the experience

    • > try to end experiences on a high note

      • Most pleasant task / experience last

      • Remember how much you’ve done so far

      • Try to reframe bad experiences in a positive way

  • Barrier: social comparison

    • > try to compare yourself with those who are worse off

  • Barrier: hedonic treadmill

    • Positive experience fade away rather quickly

    • Bad experiences fade away more quickly

  • Barrier: lack of self-control

    • “lack of self-regulation is at the hart of many of the social and personal problems that we suffer in the modern, developed world”

    • Higher self-control is actually linked to higher well-being

    • The more you practice self-control, the stronger it gets

    • > find an activity that requires self-control but which you are motivated to do

Positive emotions

  • Broaden and build theory (B. Fredrickson)

    • Experience of positive emotions enables people to create additional resources in the following categories:

      • Intellectual (e.g. problem-solving skills)

      • Physical

      • Social

      • Psychological

    • > try to find positive experiences: plan something different for a week, look at pictures that make you happy

  • Small acts of kindness helps building relationships and makes you happy

  • Amusing experiences help you to recover more quickly from negative experiences / stress

  • Benefits of happiness and positive emotions

    • Longer lifespan

    • Higher earnings

    • Sociability and better quality relationships

    • Better mental and physical health

    • Likeability

    • Greater persistence

    • Creativity

    • More efficient decision-making

    • => cause or effect?

  • Frequency of positive emotions is more important than intensity

Engagement or flow

  • ‘high-skill high-challenge’ experiences (in the zone)

  • Characteristics of activities

    • Right challenge level (not too hard and not too easy)

    • You goal is clear

    • Immediate feedback

    • Feel completely absorbed and at one with what you’re doing

    • You feel in control

    • You lose track of time

    • You don’t feel self-conscious

    • The activity is intrinsically rewarding

  • Flow is linked to

    • Achievement

    • Better physical health

    • Improved self-esteem

  • High challenge + medium – high skill = flow

  • High challenge + low skill = anxiety and stress

  • Low challenge + medium – high skill = apathy and boredom

    • You can make the challenges more difficult by setting goals

      • E.g. washing the dishes in 20 instead of 30 minutes

  • Get more flow into your life

    • SMART goals

      • Specific

      • Measureable

      • Achievable

      • Realistic

      • Time-bound

    • Aim for high-skill & high-challenge balance

    • Focus on what you’re doing

    • Find ways to get immediate feedback

    • Make the task more fun

Positive relationships

  • Moods and behaviors are contagious

    • Happiness depends on the people with whom you are connected

  • Warm, trusting and supportive relationships are important for well-being

  • Ability to respond enthusiastically to good news is more important than how we communicate in bad times

    • Passive Constructive (PC) – “it’s good / nice”

    • Passive Destructive (PD) – turn conversation to yourself

    • Active Destructive (AD) – respond with negative notions “that’s terrible because X”

    • Active Constructive (AC) – enthusiastic & energetic support allowing them to capitalize on the good news

  • Relationship positivity ratio 5:1

Meaning and purpose

  • Two central functions

    • Bedrock foundation which allows us to be more resilient

    • Sense of direction which allows us to set goals and targets to aim for

  • PURE (P. Wong)

    • Purpose (motivations, goals, values and aspirations)

    • Understanding (self-awareness, who you are, what you do and where you stand)

    • Responsibility (integrity, assuming responsibility)

    • Enjoyment / Evaluation (enjoyment of life, iterations)

  • Meaning

    • Classical by internal & external meaning

    • Or by relationship:

      • Work as a job – to finance your mean time (extrinsic)

      • Work as a career – focused on promotions / rewards (extrinsic)

      • Work as a calling – end in itself, contribution & personal fulfillment


  • Accomplishment

    • Achievement, success, competence, mastery and progress towards your goals

  • Achievement is influenced by skill and effort

    • Speed of thought

    • Rate of learning

  • Competence

    • Get regular feedback

    • Improve your skills

    • Get a mentor

Appreciative inquiry (AI)

  • Meanings

    • To be grateful

    • To recognize the value / quality of something

    • To increase in value

  • A process for implementing & achieving change: strength-based approach to managing change

  • Start with what’s working well and then build on this information

  • Principles

    • ‘Words create worlds’ – subjective perception allows people to see the same situation in different lights

    • Asking question starts the change process

    • Individual experience can be told and reinterpreted in different ways

    • Positive change can come from positive images of the future

    • Review of what works well is more enlightening

  • AI works on a systemic level

  • Stages of AI

    • Start: ‘Positive core’ – What is good / great?

    • Stage 1: Discovery: asking further positively-framed question about your positive core

    • Stage 2: Dream: Create positive & compelling vision of the future

      • Based on descriptions & stores from Stage 1

    • Stage 3: Design: Create a design for the future

    • Stage 4: Destiny: Developing, creating and improving

Character strengths

  • Assessment

    • Values in Action Inventory of Strengths

    • Strengthscope

    • Realise2

  • Talent = Foundation for strength development

  • Competence = something you are good at but don’t partially like

  • Strengths = personal attributes which energies us, which feel like us and which enable optimal performance

Emotional intelligence

  • Emotional intelligence have greater awareness of their own emotions & of others

    • Self-aware

    • Self-managed

    • Socially-aware

    • Socially-Skilled

  • Model of emotional intelligence based on these skills:

    • Identifying emotions

    • Using emotions appropriately

    • Understanding the causes of emotions

    • Managing your emotions

  • Negative feelings

    • Make us more focused

    • Easier to be critical

    • More likely to spot mistakes

    • Easier for us to pay attention to detail

  • Positive feelings

    • Expand our thinking

    • Easier to think up new ideas

    • Encourage us to consider new possibilities

    • Think in terms of opportunities


  • Gratitude relates strongly to your sense of coherence

    • Belief that life is manageable, meaningful and understandable

  • How to

    • Write a gratitude journal

      • or

    • Write a thank you card / letter

    • What where your three good things today?

    • What went well?


  • Specific type of meditation-based practice

  • Paying attention in the following way

    • On purpose

    • In the present moment

      • Notice thoughts and emotions as they occur

    • Non-judgmentally

      • Accept things as they are

  • Opposite of mindlessness


  • Fixed mindset

    • Your personal qualities and abilities are carved in stone

  • Growth mindset

    • Personal qualities and abilities can be changed or developed

  • Effects of a growth mindset

    • Focus on learning goals:

      • First gaining competence then mastering it

      • Less about winning and losing and more about growing and learning

    • Responding to failure / Taking responsibility

    • Making an effort

      • ‘Practice makes perfect’

    • Problems as opportunities to try new strategies

Motivation and goals

  • Approach goals: positive outcomes

    • Contribution to our well-being

    • Presence of something positive

  • Avoidance goals: negative outcome

    • Stressful

    • Absence of something negative

  • Self-Determination Theory (SDT) for human motivation

    • Control / Autonomy for setting goals

    • Competence – Regular positive feedback

    • Connection – Relationships with people who are close and secure

  • Improving your working memory will help increase your self-control


  • Goal focus by commitment

    • Fully committed -> focus on what you have left to accomplish

    • Uncertain commitment -> focus on what you have done so far


  • Deficiency of

  • Omega-3 can lead to depression, anxiety, poor concentration and mood swings

  • Folic acid is linked to fatigues, confusion and irritability

  • Iron is linked to fatigue, irritability, apathy, inability to concentrate and increase depressive symptoms

  • Vitamin B12 is linked to loss of memory, mental dysfunction and depression

  • Vitamin C has been shown to reduce major depression

  • Zinc is linked to depressions


  • Advantages

    • Less anxiety, depression and distress

    • More effective coping

    • Higher life satisfaction & increased well-being

    • Stronger immune system and lower cardiac risk

    • Recover from surgery more quickly

    • Adapt better to negative events

    • Don’t give up so easily

    • More action-oriented when faced with problems

  • Styles

    • Explanatory styles

      • The way we explain our experiences

      • Optimists attribute the cause of negative events to

        • External

        • Specific

        • Transient factors

      • Optimists attribute the cause of positive events to

        • Internal

        • Global

        • Permanent factors

  • Defensive pessimists

    • Take their expectation as shield to manage their anxiety

    • Don’t profit from optimism

Physical exercise

  • Tips

    • Find different forms of exercise that you enjoy and alternate them

    • Consider mixing individual, partner & team exercises

    • Be part of group – helps if your self-control isn’t strong

    • Think outside the box

    • Start with the most pleasant exercise first, then it’s easier to continue

    • Start with small steps

  • Benefits

    • Reducing high blood pressure

    • Developing strong bones & muscles

    • More active brain cells

    • Better mental skills

    • Better memory

    • Enhance body image, self-esteem & self-perceptions

    • Improved sleep patterns

    • Reduce emotional distress

    • Reduced depression

    • Reduced stress

  • Small commitments help a lot

    • 5 – 30min walk

    • 5min light resistance training


  • Key element in positive psychology

  • Benefits

    • More likely to perceive challenges / setbacks as manageable

    • Greater emotional stability

    • Greater ability to cope with stressors & daily hassles

    • Greater energy

    • Curious & open to new experiences

    • Good at helping other people feel good too

  • Reflect on setbacks which you recovered from

    • You have a wide array of experiences dealing with setbacks

    • Write about your really bad life experiences

  • Three Ds

    • Distraction — do something to calm or silence your negative inner voice

    • Distancing — Your interpretation, is just an interpretation – you don’t have to see something the way you do

      • Will this experience matter in 5 hours / days / weeks / years time?

      • Who is wore off than me at the moment?

      • What else do I have in my life that is unaffected by this?

      • How can I interpret this situation more positively?

    • Disputation — look for evidence for and against your belief

  • Try to find benefits of (negative) events (benefit-finding)

    • Which doors have opened thanks to the event?


“The aim of life appreciation.” — G.K. Chesterton

  • Savouring more down-to-earth definition of appreciation

    • To be thankful for something

    • To acknowledge the quality of something

    • To increase in value

    • => Really noticing, appreciating and enhancing the positive experiences in your life

  • How to

    • Slow down

    • Pay attention to what you are doing

    • Use all your senses

    • Stretch out your experience

    • Reflect on your enjoyment

  • Savour things

    • In the present

    • From the past

    • In the future

  • Expressing your positive feelings externally can intensify them

Positive psychology of time

  • Stop trying too many things

  • Enjoy your free time more intensively

  • Don’t slump in front of the TV

  • Time perspectives

    • Future time

      • Able to delay gratification

      • Work towards future rewards

      • More successful

    • Present positive time

      • Enjoy life to the max

      • Less likely to be concerned about the consequences

    • Present negative time

      • Sense of hopelessness

      • Life is controlled by outside forces

    • Past positive time

      • Lots of pleasure from looking back

      • Like to maintain family traditions

    • Past negative time

      • More likely to have many regrets

    • Survey:

  • Balanced time perspective (BTP)

    • Benefits:

      • Happier

      • More satisfied with life

      • Experience more positive emotions

      • Have stronger sense of life purpose

      • More optimistic

      • More self-efficacious

    • How to

      • Pick the right TP

      • E.g. studying: future TP, relaxing: present positive time

Where next?

  • Feeling outside of your comfort zone can be good — sign that you are learning something new

“What one thing will you commit to do today that will help improve your well-being for the longer term?”

Alpha Project Managers

Alpha Project Managers: What the Top 2% Know That Everyone Else Does Not by Andy Crowe

alpha-project-managers-coverI bought this book pretty much immediately after I got offered a position in project management. I managed projects before but I learned from my time in IT, that methods and mindset are important. The book had an interesting premise. It surveyed project managers and tried to extract behaviors of the top 2%. You will see that the behavior is indeed different. And after now over 2 years managing projects and teaching others how to do so. This is an excellent book.

I will write my thoughts on these highlighted passages, so it could be that I talk about something which will be quoted later on.

For the professional project manager, when mistakes are put into practice, not only do bad results follow, but bad patterns emerge.

Yep, I experienced that one before – multiple times. I don’t blame the members for that. A simple example is that you say “we don’t have to do testing on this one because it is just a small project”. In the next project, the QA skips the testing and you wonder why. Then they explain: “You said we don’t do testing on small projects. You won’t be perfect as a PM or human. Therefore, it’s important to actually do a review of your own projects. I’m pretty sure that note will come up.

The best thing I can do for the customer, the team, and my boss is to set their expectations realistically.

Another important nugget. Quite frankly, you could stop reading now and just apply these two principles and over time your projects would improve enormously. Later in the role of the quality manager I talked so much about expectations. The PMs understood this principle rather fast but sales didn’t want to.
Later these two positions had a bigger overlap and suddenly problems faded away.

a manager who planned everything out really well and ran the team at a good pace the whole time, and we kept on schedule. When the customer found out that things were on schedule, he kept trying to increase the scope, but we had a good manager this time, and she wouldn’t let him do it without adjusting the baselines.

I think I wrote about that mindset / trick before but there’s one important think in being a PM. You have to lead your team and your customer. If your customer does whatever he wants you can have the best team and the best skill you will eventually fail. The trick is in managing your customer.

Alphas tend to treat project management like a career,

Mindset. If your goal is to become a VP or CEO and you just use your PM position  as a kind of stepping stone you won’t commit to a similar degree to someone who wants to be a PM.

I’ve also found that it’s best to live by the motto that it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission.”


approach their role as project manager as something valuable to the organization, important to the team, and critical to the project’s success.

I think that’s quite essential for every job you do. If you think that you aren’t worth your money – skill up or leave.

“Nobody gives you power; you just take it.”


“When I begin on a project, the first thing I do is to write down the top two or three critical success factors and post them conspicuously in a place where the team will regularly see them. We judge everything we do by those, and we make sure that everything ties back to them.”

Later in quality management I worked with the management board on doing something like that for the company. It’s very important that people have guidelines for decisions. There’s this concept of a mantra which is a 3 – 4 word summary of what the company is. Let’s say your mantra is ‘quality over everything’. This helps people to make decisions. Because every time they have a decision on which they aren’t sure they just take the one which promises more quality.

The second ability the Alphas displayed was the ability to establish and maintain priorities on both a higher, strategic level and a lower, tactical level.

I frankly have no idea how to teach somebody that. It’s probably mostly experience.

The belief that responding to e-mail does not generally constitute “real work” is a belief that pervades the Alpha group.

More generally that has something to do, imho, with busy work. In Toyota they said movement is not the same as work. Replying to e-mails might look like work but it’s often just busy work.

“I much prefer to speak with someone in person than over the phone or e-mail.

Always. You get more information and the probability of conflict is lower. You can explain stuff easier, write something down, etc. Also don’t write e-mails if something gone horribly wrong. Either visit the person or talk to them.

follow it up with an e-mail, but it will only be a short recap


First, many project managers lack a key understanding of their audience’s communication needs.

The other skill that project managers typically lack is an awareness of how their communication was being received by the stakeholder.

Later, I broke it down to: ‘Just talk’. There seems to be in inherent fear in asking people. I sat in so many meetings were people discussed and assume what somebody wanted. Just talk to them, ask them. Ask your customer if he’s happy or if he understood what you said, etc.

Also the communication needs are incredible important. The book proposes a communication schedule. It doesn’t have to be formal but it has to be there. E.g. your customer receives a status report on every Thursday at 10a.m. If he’s happy that’s great because you just saved yourself thousands of e-mails and calls asking about the status of your project.

Here’s a great quote about that in the book:

I try to take the mystery out of that right from the start.

“I don’t have time to read the volume of material this project manager expects me to.

Keep your communication short and concise.  Here’s a good example:

“It takes me less than ten minutes to go over his reports each week.

They made it a top priority to communicate, whether it was good news or bad, and regardless of whether it was convenient for them to do so.


Alphas allocated just over twice as much time toward project planning as their counterparts. In fact, the Alpha group reported spending more time in every process group except for execution.

I will writes notes on an other book in the future which covers this in more detail. But I can say from my own experience, that the best projects I did just ran. It was like sitting in the car and all you had to do was to fill up the tank and look out the windscreen.

senior managers and the Alpha community believe that subject matter expertise on the project’s product does add value

So do I. But I don’t think that an excellent SME with poor communication skills is as good as a good non-SME with excellent communication skills.

“Consensus is the holy grail of project management. You can usually detect the fault lines as soon as you start putting the requirements down in writing. But if you plow ahead without getting everyone to generally agree, you are begging for trouble.”

Aka. ‘assuming’.

Alphas tend to build extensive networks within their organization,

Nearly regardless of your job a good network in your organization helps a ton. But even more as a PM.

I make it a practice to address conflict early and resolve it as quickly as possible

Yada, yada, yada. Cost of change curve. Fixing errors early is cheaper than later.

I make every project decision actionable. Every assignment I make has accountability and authority built-in.

When I wrote down actions I remember it like that: What? Why? Who? Until when? How?

  • What should be done? -> Task description
  • Why should it be done? -> Motivation / reason
  • Who should do it? -> Assignment which includes authority
  • Until when should it be done? -> Deadline
  • How should it look like? -> Quality

that my relationships are just as important as the project.

Yep. Don’t break your existing relationships to rescue something you fucked up. It’s a long-term game.

feedback loop in place, where the Alpha project manager would provide formal input on their performance appraisal.

Try to walk from where are you’re now to your nearest supermarket without feedback. Good luck!

many forms that this motivation can take, including recognition, praise, and financial incentive.

Also a great idea – which I saw in this or an other book, I frankly can’t remember the exact one – is to sponsor some meal. Order some pizzas for your team. They’ll love it. Also people thrive on recognition and praise. I remember one situation quite vividly. I asked a graphic designer (which is now a good friend of mine) to change some banners he made earlier. I forgot to criticize something earlier. I said I would give him 1000 thanks if he could do it. He immediately changed it. I sent him an e-mail with 500 thanks and printed the other 499 on a piece of paper and wrote one by hand. I then delivered him the paper. He was surprised but looked pleased. A day later I visited him again and saw that he had this piece of paper hanging on this wall. It hang there for a few months. I was always surprised how big an impact one sign of gratitude could have.

issues are objective, and they’ll stop the project whether you acknowledge them or not,


If it’s really important, I’ll bring it up in a meeting with the customer or my boss, but if it’s something I have under control, I don’t like to raise concerns.”

When an issue goes onto the log, I work very hard to close it out as soon as possible,

Everybody seem to have different thresholds. Some are okay if the problem potentially puts the deadline 1 day back, or 1 week or 1 month. It’s a big of experience. But I would recommend trying out different thresholds first.

Good managers deliver results, while good leaders develop people, and in most organizations, successful project managers need to be able to do both.


Teams want someone they can trust and respect.


It’s important to me that everyone is very clear on what is expected and that they feel empowered to get it done.

The empowerment part is often neglected. I thought of myself as the leader of my tribe. If they are hungry I can’t say: Stop being hungry. Instead I have to manage to get food. This doesn’t mean that you have to get food by yourself but it’s your responsibility to support your team.

“I work really hard to protect my team once they really start to work as a team.”


Alphas influence their environments is by measuring and reporting meaningful metrics, particularly the metrics of time, money, and customer satisfaction.

Aka time, money, quality.

safe and, in some cases, anonymous environment for people to give feedback on the manager’s performance from varying perspectives, project managers can gain valuable (if sometimes painful) insight into how others perceive them.


Mentoring can provide time for both project managers to analyze and discuss processes, approaches, and specific situations outside of the working environment.