The Biggest Problem in your Life

Math­e­mat­i­cian Richard Ham­ming used to ask sci­en­tists in other fields “What are the most im­por­tant prob­lems in your field?” partly so he could troll them by ask­ing “Why aren’t you work­ing on them?” and partly be­cause get­ting asked this ques­tion is re­ally use­ful for fo­cus­ing peo­ple’s at­ten­tion on what mat­ters. CFAR de­vel­oped the tech­nique of “Ham­ming Ques­tions” as differ­ent prompts to get your brain to (ac­tu­ally) think about the biggest prob­lems, bot­tle­necks, and un­spo­ken de­sires in your life.

Plan for the meetup:

1. I will go through a list of prompts to get you to think of the var­i­ous bugs in your life and the un­der­ly­ing “Ham­ming prob­lems” that lie at the core of what’s pre­vent­ing you from be­ing all you want to be.

2. We will break into pairs, and each per­son will de­scribe their Ham­ming prob­lems and why they haven’t solved them yet to an­other per­son, while look­ing in their eyes. The other per­son doesn’t have to hear what’s be­ing said (I’ll provide ear plugs for those who want them). The goal of say­ing this out loud is to let your­self be vuln­er­a­ble and make the prob­lem real in your at­ten­tion.

3. If enough peo­ple wish to dis­cuss their Ham­ming prob­lems, we will break into small groups where one per­son will pre­sent their prob­lem and (hope­fully) re­ceive com­pas­sion, clar­ifi­ca­tion, and feed­back from the oth­ers.

Th­ese ex­er­cises will likely be some­what out­side the com­fort zone for most of us, and are partly in­tended to stretch that com­fort zone. You are very wel­come to drop out af­ter part 1 (which will take 30-45 by it­self) or part 2; Luna has many lovely spaces to hang out in. How­ever, if you choose to par­ti­ci­pate in any of the parts, please be com­mit­ted and fully pre­sent. Also, please be on time. The suc­cess of the ex­er­cise de­pends a lot on the at­mo­sphere cre­ated in the space.

Please bring:

1. Some­thing to write with/​on, prefer­ably pa­per-based and not elec­tronic.

2. Ear plugs, in case I mis­judge the to­tal num­ber needed or you pre­fer your own.

3. An open and in­tro­spec­tive mind­set.

Thank you to the Lu­natics for gra­ciously host­ing this event at Luna Labs!

(For more de­tails and ex­act lo­ca­tion, please join our Google group).

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