Prax

7/20/2021, 8:35:58 PM

The 80/20 Rule Didn’t Work For Companies — But It Can For You

The 80/20 Rule Didn’t Work For Companies — But It Can For You

Adam Grant’s NY Times article about “languishing” offers a space in between depression and thriving where a lot of us have ended up through the pandemic. A cure, Grant proposes, could be setting up boundaries of uninterrupted time, spaces to concentrate, act with purpose, and feel ok not attending to the rest of your responsibilities.

Prax heard you Adam, and built accordingly.

First popularized by Google in its startup days, the 80/20 rule asked workers to set aside 20% of their paid time to pursue passion projects. It gained notoriety when we all learned gmail and google maps were concepts that came out of this passion-time. However, as lucrative of a structure as it seemed to be, Google, and the companies who followed suit, abandoned this work culture. Regardless of why, let’s take a look at it from the perspective of, not a company, but a human being, like you :)

What if you did give yourself some real me time? Not for work, or responsibilities, but play. Pure, childlike, innocent, curiosity and fun-driven play! The kind of play where you can answer whatever flicker of a whim flashes in your imagination. Where all it takes is a guitar in a closet, an old art project stuffed in a drawer, or that skatepark across the street to ask, “What if?” Because now there’s a praxtitioner with a prompt waiting for you who’s been in your shoes and answered that call already and wants to see you do the same.

Play, not necessity, is the mother of invention. As Dr. Stuart Brown, the author of Play, surmised through these examples:

A toy airplane and toy train came before the real things. 🚂

Wind up, coil technology was used first on toys before it was applied to a a pocket watch 🤖

Before firepower, there were fireworks. 🎇

Before Einstein toiled over a black board, he played with a magic spinner called a compass. 🧭

Examples of people who liked to play.

Have the same confidence in yourself to invest in your own fun, curiosity, and creativity, and who knows where it will lead.

Nature bathe, meditate about a golden orb floating above your head, doodle, steal your kid’s recorder, find a tree you can name. The point is, whatever Prax is interesting to you is a Prax worth doing.

In this insightful response to a blocked writer, Dan Harmon summed up the problem all creators face,

(W)e’re raised to think lack of confidence is synonymous with paralysis, but, let’s just be honest with ourselves and each other: we can only hope to be good writers.We can only ever hope and wish that will ever happen, that’s a bird in the bush. The one in the hand is: we suck. We are terrified we suck, and that terror is oppressive and pervasive… (so) Switch from team “I will one day write something good” to team “I have no choice but to write a piece of sh*t.”

The truth just kind of slaps you in the face right there doesn’t it? It’s the same truth Prax not only admits to but embraces as part of the structure of the app. We can let the perfect be the enemy of, well, any productivity at all, or we can admit that the first step is the hardest, so celebrate that win of starting and make the short journey through that first step fun!

How? Prax picks up where Mr. Harmon, and the rest of us strugglers, leave off. Since we can guarantee whatever we try at first isn’t going to be good, prax leans into the joy that can come from letting go of perfectionism. In a consequence free, curiosity-driven environment, you you move from “have to” to “get to.” You get to actually play with anything you try, and that frees you to not only take the focus off the end goal, but to squeeze every bit of fulfillment possible from the current attempt.

“Putting in the work,” is a good ethic, but replacing work with play is a better way forward. And that’s why our praxtitioners aren’t chosen for their mastery alone, they’re chosen for their joy for what they do so the curse of the expert never applies, only the joy of trying does. Sure, sucking at something is the first step at being sorta good at something, but there’s as much joy to experience in the first step as the last if you know how.

So go suck at something!

There are an almost infinite number of betterment platforms out there, ready to fill our heads with skills and our hands with the tools. It’s the information age! We aren’t lacking the resources to learn and do new things.

Then why aren’t we all Einsteins and Rockefellers? It’s not for lack of trying. The tech ed sector has evolved immensely in this young century which was $89 billion in 2020 is projected to be over $375 billion by 2028. That’s a lot of education-hungry people. But what are they being fed?

In this content-oversaturated, forever-niching world, you can’t teach kids a job that doesn’t exist yet and your career might change before your employer does. So learning new skills and picking up new practices isn’t for the hobby sector anymore, it’s been professionalized into skill stacking.

But the way most learning platforms help users through this is with the threats of this scary world and a shiny certification at the end of a hard series of lessons. In other words, the only way to learn is with passive lectures that ask you to invest a lot upfront (energy, money, time) with a single goal (a skill mastery or a certification) dangling at the horizon. We’re all so used to doing this, we don’t think to question it: we have to get through the work rather than finding a way to enjoy the journey itself to get there.

This has created a burnout effect. Investing a lot in a large goal only to not enjoy the process we have to endure to get there and losing momentum before finishing. As a study done by UCLA can attest to, visualizing a goal, regardless of making you hate the journey to it more, can make you practice less as you spend mental energy living in a hypothetical future instead of spending time practicing to get there.

Also, trying is hard! We HATE sucking at things. We HATE stepping into the unknown. We HATE sharing our less than perfect work that we have to do if we’re going to learn.

No wonder only 5–15% of those who sign up for a course ever complete it!

source: http://www.katyjordan.com/MOOCproject.html

Bridging the gap between wanting to start any practice and actually doing that practice is the educational challenge of our time (and our app).

So what’s missing? Purpose and motivation.

And how do we get it? With practice and fun!

Prax’s Micropractice™ prompt-response, experiential learning community is built to enjoy the journey of discovery, the fun you can have in each small step, and the feeling of accomplishment for every single one of those steps.

Trying can be fun! By ENJOYING prompts that ask us to have fun with first steps. By ENJOYING getting out of our comfort zones because new is exciting! By ENJOYING sharing our first, second, and third tries with people because we trust them to encourage our efforts and know that we can do the same for their practices.

Grand intentions are great. But when goals get in the way of how you get there, it’s time to reexamine our journeys. Let’s get back to the enjoyment of practice and trust that fun, curiosity, and creativity can be the universal means to any end.

Happy praxing!

The ritual responsibilities of our lives are vast, all encompassing, and start from a very young age. We all have our own unique combination of them, but we all have them.

All. The. Time.

Except in some very unique moments where we drop those self-imposed rituals of responsibility, moments we categorize as “escapes.” We escape on vacation, we escape for momentary breaks like creating some “me time” or mental health days, though those have predictable patterns as well.

And of course there’s retirement, the time we tell ourselves all our hard work is going to pay off and make the daily practices of the present, worth it. That means spending your entire life being one thing only to flip 180 degrees in the last years of your life, no longer able to take advantage of a big change, doing just that. But what other time do we have?

There’s one other time and place we allow our labels and expectations to fall away: CAMP. Camp has no degrees, no gold watches, no negotiations or even any societal responsibilities. Through this lens, camp’s not even a time or place, but a state of mind. One where the “jock” loves being in chorus, the “nerd” discovers white water rafting, and the “wallflower” lets their hair down. We feel free to drop expectations and try things, explore, let curiosity guide our way… because we can! When we’re left to our own devices, truly left to let our individuality shine, we let experiences, not our self-imposed labels, lead the way.

Adi, CEO of Prax, with his camp pals in 2005

An always-ready doorway to that state of mind is exactly what Prax aims to keep in your pocket. This Micropractice platform is designed to extend beyond the borders of childhood camp, and bring it into our lives, no matter where we happen to be. Instead of counselors, there are experts across all disciplines offering you short prompts that let curiosity and creativity dictate how you respond. Tentatively, daringly, flailingly… it doesn’t matter as long as you try. Not for the sake of a goal, but for the sake of itself, because it’s fun! Bringing the joy into the action, not the goal you can attain with it, is no longer solely for the summer camper, it’s the promise of an entire life as a praxer.

So when you find yourself exploring the various prompts on Prax, don’t ask yourself how it will look on a CV, just give it a try, see how it feels, enjoy the creative moment it offers for its own sake, and see where it takes you. It may not be camp, but with Prax, it never has to end.

6/17/2021, 4:58:23 PM

Funification > Gamification

A very wise old man from Aerosmith once said “Life’s a journey, not a destination.” And although we would all agree with that statement, we as a culture have never taken it to heart. We’re all so goal oriented.

Struggle through school to earn a degree. Struggle through work to earn a living. You can sleep when you’re dead. And if you need a break, play a game. The game is the escape time you need to recharge, let loose, and get yourself ready for more trudgery. Ick.

The thing about gamification is that it’s not about playing a game at all. It’s about tricking you into doing more of something. It’s great when it helps you brush your teeth and the only consequence is your pearly white smile. It’s another when it’s about sucking the few moments of attention you have left for some screen time that only serves to distract you. “The current age has been characterized as one of the “continuous partial attentions.” Cellphones with constant notifications requiring our attention and entertainment with intruding advertisements invade every moment of our already fast-paced life.”

So what if we stopped tricking ourselves into doing more by making a game of it, and actually just learned to have more fun no matter what we did? What if we stopped playing games on our phone and learned how to play the game of our actual lives?

Alan Watts said, “This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”

Prax takes the goal of creating a space for personal growth and makes it a playground. Playful praxtitioners offer Micropractices™, creative prompts that inspire you, dare you, challenge you, inquire within you to play with your practice. You have the permission to respond in a way that is creative, and oh so slightly (and cumulatively) productive. Professional praxtitioners across all skills, perspectives, and professions are not just offering you a playful way to broaden your skills, or earn another badge or certificate, but to show you how to actually enjoy the journey of every step, instead of losing the present for some future you may or may not attain.

Becoming a Praxer.

When you spend time praxing, over time, you’ll learn how to enjoy the pleasures of discovering something new again, of having fun sucking at things in the beginning instead of worrying what others will think, to take real appreciation in other people’s appreciation of you, and vice versa. A game is playing by someone else’s rules. Having fun is about taking control of the situation and playing how YOU want to play. Dr. Spock said that we love “play, not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard.” It’s fun not because the world goes your way but because you’re creating your own world with challenges you’d like to take on, not challenges you can easily win. That’s when you become a Praxer, that’s when you’re someone who finds a way to bring any challenge into their own world and make it one they’ll have a fun time taking on. Then every time is play time!

6/10/2021, 11:25:38 PM

Doing > Viewing™

Prax has a goal, to make life more playful, and to use the curiosity and creativity unleashed by fun to grow. This Micropractice™ platform, with its short prompts provided by curated professionals and a creative, public canvas to respond with, can nurture any practice. That’s a lot of new, so let’s take a look at what learning has been like until Prax.

Viewing vs Doing

TV, YouTube, Masterclass, they all provide access to brilliant minds that can share their knowledge with you. But, according to The Association of American Colleges and Universities experiential learning, “leads to deeper, more nuanced understanding of subject matter.” By giving yourself “agency” over what you’re learning, you’re opening up the potential to a “deeper understanding.” In other words, viewing is learning, doing is understanding.

Guided vs Interactive

At best, content is guided, requiring you to spend your time consuming either a recorded or live video. Prax provides short prompts that take less than a minute to consume, but then ask you to respond by practicing what’s been proposed by the expert. The short prompt and unlimited time to respond frees the mind to creativity respond, while uploading your nascent practice onto a safe space of other praxers frees you to bravely stumble your way through those first, harrowing steps of uncertainty.

User Generated Content vs Curated Professional Prompts

In today’s online education environment you either have to rely on the wisdom of the crowd (including trolls) on social media or invest in access to experts before you even know if you want to pursue that practice. Prax provides free access to professional praxtitioners for all users.

One Practice vs Multiple Practices

When you’re looking to start a practice, you have a goal in mind, a purpose you’re already laser focused on. So you go to a platform that offers experts or expertise in that practice. When you’re looking to be a praxter, you’re looking to put fun and curiosity first, to let the winds guide your sail instead of holding fast to a rudder and blindly pushing forward. Taking a lesson from BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits, Prax offers hundreds of small steps in any direction you’d like to choose in this moment. If the micropractice interests you, you can build that practice one prompt and response at a time, in your own time. And when you want to drill down into any practice, your praxtitioner will be ready to help.

Practice Makes Perfect vs Practice Makes Purpose

10,000 hours, that’s the vernacular these days for how long it takes to get really good at something. But we seem to have lost focus on why we’re investing this much of our lives into “suffering through” a practice to attain some sort of mastery over it. Prax believes that practice makes purpose. Let the practice itself be the enjoyment to push you forward, not the promise of mastery to pull you in a direction you may or may not stay on.

In essence, Prax is play, play makes learning anything fun, fun makes effort effortless, and lots of effort creates lots of person growth. And when play makes practice, you never have to do anything that isn’t fun ever again :)

5/26/2021, 9:44:47 PM

Bless Your Mess

A Rebuttal to Perfection

Perfect isn’t only the enemy of the good, it’s an intimidator from even trying anything in the first place. So let’s stop honoring perfection and start celebrating the art of imperfection. Imperfection doesn’t tell you that you don’t have time to work on something new. It doesn’t push passions away just because they’re unfamiliar. It doesn’t even need a purpose to try something new.

Imperfection just needs curiosity.

And curiosity is that small first step, that, with a little fun and creativity thrown in, gets you to big. That’s why Prax is short for Micropractice™. A Micropractice is a prompt that never takes more than a minute to understand , and then gives you all the fun time and creative space you need to respond. There are no wrong answers when you’re trying something new.

The more you work this way, the more practice won’t need to lead to perfection. Instead, it can lead to purpose. After all, how are you supposed to know what your passions are (yes you can have more than one passion) till you give them a try?

When you explore, making the first steps the easiest and an unlimited number of times to try again, you give whatever you’re interested in a chance to become more than an interest, but a practice.

When expectations are thrown out the window and let your curiosity play, who knows where you’ll end up .So take a minute for a Micropractice prompt, and however long you need with the respond and see where it takes you.

Where there’s an interest, there’s a way. A loose, winding, fun and gloriously imperfect way.

The 8-year old you and the 80-year old you both have something to say. We’re listening to the 8 year old.

As we are coming out of COVID and everyone spent the year being told to take advantage of this time to grow, the conversations are starting to build about what we’ve done and what we do next. Implied is that we “should” have done… stuff. Productive stuff. So even if you did more than just maintain, social media is revealing a lot of accomplishment in your feed, so it’s not uncommon for regret to start bubbling to the surface. Regret, is a powerful word, and mostly negative, because it comes with a heavy dose of a horrible feeling called helplessness. We’ve all been there, looking back on the past, without a flux capacitor to do anything about it.

The ultimate regrets, deathbed confessions are full of common themes: less hard work, more friend and family time, taking life less seriously. All good advice… from people who can’t do anything about it.

Regret is sticky, it makes you think there’s nothing left to do. That’s why, even though we’re building Prax to help you do things, build skills, experience variety, we’re only going to be talking about fun. The fun of trying, the fun of exploring, the fun of not worrying about final products, certifications, or perfection. Because fun works! We all like to say, “Life is the journey, not the destination.” So why are we listening to people at their destination when we can just be listening to the little voices in our heads asking us just to try stuff, consequence free?

We’re not asking you to be brave at sucking on your first attempt, we’re asking you to have fun regardless of how many times you’ve tried it. Because fun works! Pick up an old guitar, not for a Van Halen solo, just a cool chord. Meditate without nirvana on your mind. Drop the great American novel, for a really nice sentence. We’ll always have regrets, but we don’t have to let them drive our decisions.

TL; DR (as kids say) — Stop trying not to disappoint 80 year old you and start trying to make the 8 year old you proud! That’s Prax. You don’t need a PhD, a marathon finish line, or an opus to find fulfillment, just some productive playtime (and maybe a “good job” sticker at the end).

Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the Gods made for fun. — Alan Watts.

There’s a voice inside everyone’s head. If you stop and listen for a second, you’ll hear it too. It’s that little kid inside of you, the one who hadn’t been told yet what to be as an adult, the one who was willing and wanting to try literally anything, where there was no consequence for any decision. That’s the pure you, the one that doesn’t let today’s responsibilities and expectations get in the way of exploring for exploring’s sake.

The thing about that voice, the thing that we use to keep tampt down, is that we tell it “later.” That’s what vacation’s for, what retirement’s for, what you’ll get to when you have the time. You also keep that voice low by answering back with others’ expectations. What would others think if I, all of a sudden, did this? What would others think if they saw me suck at trying that?

Imagine if that kid were in charge right now. Imagine the self and culturally created berries you’d smash through. The things you’d try, the things you forgot you wanted to try, the things you’d then try once you had a few, truly new experiences under your belt?

So what if you gave that kid a space, a time, an excuse to come out and play? A playground for personal growth.

That’s what Prax is for. To feed your curious side. A little sandbox all your own, with questions, challenges, and prompts of all sorts from experts around the world being your muse. What will you draw? What will you record? What will you say in response?

Prax is your prompt, your journal, your supportive community ready to provide inspiration to keep trying and validation for what you already have.

When you dare to try, and suck, in front of others who support you, you might recognize a new (or old) you staring back who wants to keep experimenting, trying, stumbling in any direction, because all directions are forward. Practice doesn’t have to make perfect, as long as it makes purpose, (and fun along the way).

4/5/2021, 7:56:28 PM

Make Life More Playful

Why we’re building a new place to play.

by Adi Segal, Co-Founder & CEO of Prax.

“Camp, let’s make Camp!” as soon as I said that out loud, I knew that was the final piece in a year long puzzle my team and I had been searching for.

For the past year our collective now known as team Prax, has set out to build a community around positive reinforcement. Coming from a healthtech background we started by building a gratitude network for healthcare workers and that’s when the idea of a gratitude network was born. When COVID-19 hit American shores, the pent up gratitude for essential workers added an additional focus and, for the better part of 2020, the promise to let you thank anyone, anywhere, anytime became a web, iOS, Android, and voice platform that launched on Thanksgiving.

But, as with most startups, one realization led to another, and gratitude as a practice alone became too limiting to build the kind of platform our team wanted to see in the world.

So we spent the winter back at the drawing board to answer our new mantra:

Any PRACTICE is good for YOU.

It’s better DAILY.

And best with COMMUNITY.

The idea that a prompt, much like what we had seen in the gratitude journals we were using for research, could not only be digitized into a community, but open to any practice gave us the insight for Prax (short for Micropractices™). These short prompts, provided by professionals across as many professions as possible, could not only offer a moment productive play, but a canvas for creativity. By keeping each prax short, fun, and playfully challenging we found a whole new way to find joy.

I showed the team my favorite TED Talk by the late Sir Ken Robinson, PhD, “Do schools kill creativity.” One particular part of his talk stood out that I keep repeating to anyone who will listen. In a study on Kindergarteners, when asked “who is the artist,” all kids raised their hands. But less than a year later, asking those same children the same question, only two raised their hands and the rest pointed at those two, instinctively giving away their right to creativity to others as they had already labeled themselves something else. We are all born joyously curious, without fear or labels that keep us from exploring our various passions. Unfortunately, that is the very thing that gets taken away from us as soon as school starts. That’s when Camp became the embodiment of what Prax needs to be, a place to escape, where everything is ok to try, where your time is productive in what it does for your soul as much as what it does for your skills.

By the way, that camp piece that made this all fit together, it was actually inspired by Hillary Clinton’s last speech before starting her 2016 campaign where she said, “We need camps for adults… I think we have a huge fun deficit in America.” Regardless of politics, her perspective on our country, from a 10,000 foot view, is spot on.

As the product-side of the team is working on the new app, the people-side is tracking down, interviewing, and recruiting experts across mindfulness, yoga, meditation, life coaching, music, craft, the maker space, and more. These first Praxtitioners are teaching us so much more about what this platform can do for people. Every prompt in its brevity — no prompt takes longer than a minute — with no time or difficulty as an excuse, is able to fit into your day and add to it. After all, the best practice is the one you actually do. And by doing them on PRAX, a playground that focuses on the fun, not the practice, not only do you enjoy your time learning, you have a new way to bring joy to the rest of your day. And that, in the end, is the goal — to make life more playful.

Since doing a Prax is so much better than talking about it, here’s one from me.

PS — I encourage you to subscribe to this channel because we have a lot more in store about the science, art, and philosophies behind the joy of Micropractices.

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