No Doubt!

No Doubt

Many of us are beset by self-doubt. It manifests itself in many ways – few of them good.

Do you struggle with giving yourself a compliment? Think of the last time you told yourself something critical or negative. Then think of the last compliment you gave yourself. Which is easier to remember?

Many of us—whether due to genetics, brain chemistry, our experiences or coping skills—tell ourselves way too many negative thoughts. We ruminate, thinking the same negative, unproductive thoughts over and over.

With intent and practice, you can create another path. Psychologists call the technique cognitive reappraisal. The result will be stronger neural networks devoted to positive thoughts, or a happier brain.

People who do this have better mental health and more life satisfaction, and even better-functioning hearts, research shows. This technique is at the heart of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy practiced by many psychologists. The good news is that you can practice it at home.

Try it…what have you got to lose….

You can read the full article here.

The North Korea Challenge

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When our first re-booted Op-Center book, Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes, made the New York Times and other best-seller lists, it put the bar high for the second book of the series, Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Into the Fire. That book didn’t disappoint, and it recently made the New York Times best-seller list.

As we’ve talked about the book in various venues, people have asked us how the new Op-Center series both stays connected to – but is different from – the original 12 book Op-Center series written by Jeff Rovin. Our answer is this: The new Op-Center series reflects the sea change in the U.S. security posture since the original series ended around the turn of the century:

• Even 15 years removed, September 11, 2001 still drives U.S. security thinking
• The creation of the Director of National Intelligence and the NCTC
• The creation of the Department of Homeland Security
• The creation of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence
• The creation of U.S. Cyber Command as a full combatant commander in 2013
• The creation of Northern Command as a United States Combatant Commander
• The success of the television series “24”
• The success of the television series “Person of Interest”
• The fact that the United States has been at war for over a decade – and counting
• The issuance this year of the new U.S. Strategy, the National Security Strategy
• The major strategic shift involved in the U.S. “pivot to Asia”
• That said, the validated U.S. near-term strategic focus is still the Mideast
• The forces unleashed by the Arab Spring are causing more Mideast turmoil
• Today, the U.S. military is reviving the counterterrorism vs. counterinsurgency issue

Read more about Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Into the Fire (Now available in mass market paperback, digital and audio editions) and other books in the series here.

Technology Revolution

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Max Boot said in his New York Times best-selling book, War Made New: “My view is that technology sets the parameters of the possible; it creates the potential for a military revolution.”

But Max Boot isn’t the only one who shares this point of view. The U.S. Intelligence Community has also come to this conclusion. Here is part of what the IC says:

The United States no longer has a monopoly on innovation or innovative technologies. The U.S. Intelligence Community’s capstone publication Global Trends 2030, places a huge emphasis on technology in general and on what it considers potential (and likely) “technological game changers” in the foreseeable future, at least out to 2030. These potential technological game changers are of enormous significance to investment and other business decisions.

Global Trends 2030 notes that technology will figure prominently in what kind of future world we live in. It asks the question, will technological breakthroughs be developed in time to boost economic productivity and solve the problems caused by the strain on natural resources and climate change as well as chronic disease, aging populations, and rapid urbanization

Read the entire article here on the Defense Media Network website and consider what role technology will play in ensuring our security and prosperity.

Harness Your Creativity

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Are you waiting for that “genius moment” to harness your creativity? Or perhaps you’ve latched on to that shaman who portrays himself or herself as the lone genius. Get over it.

Joshua Wolf Shenk explodes the myth of the lone genius as the single paragon of creativity. Here’s part of what he says:

Where does creativity come from? For centuries, we’ve had a clear answer: the lone genius. The idea of the solitary creator is such a common feature of our cultural landscape (as with Newton and the falling apple) that we easily forget it’s an idea in the first place.

But the lone genius is a myth that has outlived its usefulness. Fortunately, a more truthful model is emerging: the creative network, as with the crowd-sourced Wikipedia or the writer’s room at “The Daily Show” or — the real heart of creativity — the intimate exchange of the creative pair, such as John Lennon and Paul McCartney and myriad other examples with which we’ve yet to fully reckon.

Today, the Romantic genius can be seen everywhere. Consider some typical dorm room posters — Freud with his cigar, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the pulpit, Picasso looking wide-eyed at the camera, Einstein sticking out his tongue. These posters often carry a poignant epigraph — “Imagination is more important than knowledge” — but the real message lies in the solitary pose.

In fact, none of these men were alone in the garrets of their minds. Freud developed psychoanalysis in a heated exchange with the physician Wilhelm Fliess, whom Freud called the “godfather” of “The Interpretation of Dreams”; King co-led the civil rights movement with Ralph Abernathy (“My dearest friend and cellmate,” King said). Picasso had an overt collaboration with Georges Braque — they made Cubism together — and a rivalry with Henri Matisse so influential that we can fairly call it an adversarial collaboration. Even Einstein, for all his solitude, worked out the theory of relativity in conversation with the engineer Michele Besso, whom he praised as “the best sounding board in Europe.”

Read more about this here…and stop waiting for that genius moment – find a partner to collaborate with!

Worried?

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Do you worry? I do; in fact, I’d wager most of us do to one extent or the other. Some of us even worry that we worry. Whew!

Turns out I’m not alone. Two out of five Americans say they worry every day, according to a new report. Among the findings in the “Worry Less Report:” Millennials worry about money. Single people worry about housing (and money). Women generally worry more than men do and often about interpersonal relationships. The good news: Everyone worries less as they get older.

If you’re worried about your worrying, the report suggests some coping strategies, including:

Divide and conquer Try to come up with a solution to a worrisome problem by breaking it down into four parts: defining the problem, clarifying your goals, generating solutions and experimenting with solutions. Grab a pen and paper and brainstorm, the report suggests. Studies have shown this approach can help ease depression and anxiety.

Practice mindfulness Choose a routine activity or part of the day and try to experience it fully. Set aside concerns, and try to be “in the moment.”

Schedule a worry session Pick a designated time of day to mull your problems. If a worrying thought enters your mind outside of your scheduled worry session, jot it down so you can think about it during your scheduled worry time. Then get back to your day.

Practice accepting uncertainty Notice your thoughts and label them (as in, “there is the thought that I can’t manage”). Let go of tension in your body; soften your forehead, drop your shoulders and relax your grip.

Read more of this killer-good article here…and you may find you’re worrying less….:)

Life Imitates Art

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Now that both our Op-Center books have landed on the New York Times best-seller list, I find myself giving an increasing number of book talks.

Most readers want three things from a novel: Plot, characters and action. We think we delivered with Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes and Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Into the Fire.

But beyond, plot, characters and action, people often ask: “What is this series about?” as well as “Well, what’s different about this series and the original Op-Center series (written by Jeff Rovin) that dominated best-seller lists from 1995 to 2005. Here is part of what we share regarding some overarching themes in the book:

• The notion of civilian control of the military is “unsettled” in America today
• There is tension between government, military and intelligence entities, and the people
• There is technology-enabled tension between counterterrorism efforts and civil liberties
• There are issues that are “too hot to handle” for DoD, DoS et al…hence OpCenter
• The United States is not a juggernaut, we have to be thoughtful how we apply power
• This novel series conveys “strategic foresight” i.e. predicting what will happen in future
• The key to what OpCenter takes on regards leveraging “anticipatory intelligence”
• Information is now a weapon…this is where network-centric warfare has evolved

Read more about Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes (Now available in mass market paperback, digital and audio editions) and other books in the series here

Digital World

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Do we control our digital world, or does someone else. It seems that we have choices, but do we really?

I recently read I Hate the Internet. Whew. It really made me think about the subject of technology and our lives. And it’s a NOVEL.

If you don’t have time to read the entire book, I’ve posted a link to a New York Times review below.

In his new novel, “I Hate the Internet,” Jarett Kobek performs a similar maneuver on the viscera of the American psyche, at least as regards the so-called information highway. I can’t decide if, on his way down, Mr. Kobek is laughing or weeping.

Here is a key thought. One of the curious aspects of the 21st century was the great delusion amongst many people, particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area, that freedom of speech and freedom of expression were best exercised on technology platforms owned by corporations dedicated to making as much money as possible.

Read more here

Our Existential Threat

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There are few issues where the U.S. intelligence community, academia, industry, the U.S. military, and think tanks all agree.

The singular issue that brings all of them together is this: The one existential threat to the United States is ballistic missiles armed with weapons of mass destruction.

Today, a number of unstable nations possess these weapons. The U.S. Missile Defense Agency has a number of assets for defense against ballistic missiles with weapons of mass destruction.

And by any estimate, the most important weapon for defense against ballistic missiles with WMD is built around the U.S. Navy Aegis weapons system with a BMD package.

The U.S. Navy’s contribution to U.S. BMD is based on the Aegis weapon system and has been on patrol in guided-missile cruisers and destroyers since 2004. Aegis BMD has grown in importance based on its proven performance as well as its long-term potential.

Read more about this issue – including our article in U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings.

In the Zone

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Mindfulness meditation is sweeping the country. But more people want to embrace this practice than actually do. Why? It’s simple – time.

Most of us who enjoy what mindfulness brings us look for ways to squeeze it into our already too-busy lives. Therein lies the challenge.

Matthew May offers some killer-good tips regarding how to mainstream this practice without stopping your life. Here’s part of what he shares:

In a recent seminar I gave for over 100 business professionals, I asked the participants to play a simple word association game with me: “I say mindfulness, you say ________.” The word that rang out in unison was, of course, “meditation.”

Mindfulness, it seems, has become a mainstream business practice and a kind of industry in its own right. Meditation instructors are the new management gurus, and companies including Google, General Electric, Ford Motor and American Express are sending their employees to classes that can run up to $50,000 for a large audience. Many mindfulness apps exist, nearly all of which focus on “mindfulness meditation.”

The proliferation of meditation in the name of mindfulness and the combination of the two terms naturally lead people to equate the two. Mistakenly so.

By most definitions, mindfulness is a higher-order attention that involves noticing changes around us and fully experiencing them in real time. This puts us in the present, aware and responsive, making everything fresh and new again.

You can read the full article here

Is Autonomy Okay?

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Few issues related to national security fire up such passion as the use of unmanned or autonomous systems for military use. Over the past decade, these technological wonders have been used on the battlefield as well as in targeted killings of terrorists. By-and-large, the public is torn on this issue, suffice it to say, there has been vastly more heat than light regarding their use.

The expanding use of armed unmanned systems (UxS) is not only changing the face of modern warfare, but also altering the process of decision-making in combat operations. Indeed, it has been argued that the rise in drone warfare is changing the way we conceive of and define “warfare” itself. These systems have been used extensively in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and will continue to be equally relevant – if not more so – as the United States’ strategic focus shifts toward the Asia-Pacific region and the high-end warfare this strategy requires. The exploding use of UxS is already creating strategic, operational, and tactical possibilities that did not exist a decade ago.

With the prospect of future flat or declining military budgets, the rapidly rising costs of military manpower, and the increased DoD emphasis on total ownership costs, the mandate to move beyond the “many operators, one-joystick, one-vehicle” paradigm that has existed during the past decades for most UxS is clear and compelling. The DoD and the services are united in their efforts to increase the autonomy of UxS as a primary means of reducing manning and achieving acceptable total ownership costs. But this drive for autonomy begs the question as to what this imperative to increase autonomy comports and what, if any, downside occurs if we push UxS autonomy too far. Is there an unacceptable “dark side” to too much autonomy?

Read the entire article here on the Defense Media Network website and consider what the dark side of autonomy could mean: