100 days to go

This post is a few days late but better late than never. 

Every year, September 22 reminds me of the day that signals the start – and slow strangulation – of countless resolutions. This year is no different.

2021 started with promise of the pandemic ending quickly. We were going back into the office 2 days a week per corporate dictates, life was going to go ‘back to normal’ etc etc.  I’m not sure I would call it ‘normal’ but for a few weeks, at least until early June this year, the commute was a standard feature that bookended daily life again. And with it, exhaustion and lack of sleep.

Not for long though. Come June, we were back into ‘lockdown’, ‘working from home’, blurring the line between work and life, again. The kids weren’t spared either; they too got into the groove (& dare I say enjoyed the longer sleep!)

So with 100 days to go before the year ticks over, I’ve been going over what was important enough to pursue at the beginning of the year. They still remain so.  Reading, writing, exercise, family time, investing, and eating better  continue to get near daily attention. Writing publicly has fallen off the routine, after a rather healthy start, although I’ve continued to journal nearly every day. I got through quite a few books. I’ve taken enough notes to remember and use many ideas in my work/personal life.  The others have had various levels of consistency, maybe becoming secondary to work demands.

So with 100 97 days to go before the year ticks over, I’m aiming to:

  1. Consistent Spencerian alphabets practice: for a long time I’ve wanted to improve how I do this form of ornamental penmanship. I want to do this so I can continue to write letters the old fashioned way to those I love dearly in a form they might want to preserve. Write a quote and publish here every day in Spencerian.
  2. Walk an hour a day EVERY DAY. There have been reasons to not do this, valid ones. This is still a priority that I need to bring to the fore for the next 100 days. This is for me. Take a picture every day, to assist No. 4 below.
  3. Learn, record, and publish my version of a song or poem every week. That is 15 songs before the end of the year. This is to improve my voice so people want to listen to what I have to say.
  4. Write at least 100 words here every day.  Prompts from No. 2 above.
  5. There are couple of family & investment goals that require me to build a system. I might choose to share about those here later .

System over goals; creation over consumption; consistency over quality.

 

Naive or authentic?

I was witness to a series of presentations this week that had me spellbound. It was not because of the brilliance of their oratory, or the slides they used, which some might argue were middling to average.

These presenters weren’t industry veterans; on the contrary, they were young folks often dismissed by the corporate machinery with epithets such as “naive” or “green”. The depth of their understanding of the subject, and the fresh perspective they brought to the discussion was refreshing.

What got me hooked was their authenticity and the humility with which they made their case. They stated the problem they were tackling, where the wanted to be, and how they anticipated getting there.  I noticed this pattern after hearing change practitioner & “thinking partner” Alan Arnett articulate it in his TED Talk titled Sensemaking.

Connections

I have two distinct memories of my childhood.

My parents work meant that they’d be transferred every so often & we’d move. The first memory is as a student who kept changing schools, & being picked on by every new group of classmates. It would take a while until I had somehow become one of them, at which point it was time to change schools. Again.

The other was much more fun: meeting new kids who lived nearby, making friends, getting into all sorts of mischief. Some of them are still in touch.

Connecting with other humans has seemingly come easily to me. The Internet has made it even easier to do so. It gives me great pleasure, knowing fully well that while they’re not deep friendships, they’re not superficial either. I remember things about people*  I don’t find it hard to reconnect when something relevant to the person comes to my attention either.

There’s no big reveal here for you, if you’re reading (thank you if you are). It’s just becoming apparent to me that a lot of people struggle with reaching out, even to their friends. Lockdowns are making it even harder to do so.

I’m grateful for this little big gift of easy connection, & for the wonderful conversations I have had today with three – until a few hours ago – strangers.

*It might be a superpower, and sometimes it does feel strange that I do remember little things, as a good friend told me recently!

Quote of the Day

Today I heard someone use the phrase “Guide on the side, not a sage on the stage” to describe their leader.

Over the course of the last decade, I’ve seen so many of the latter: their flamboyant style of “leadership” supposed to “lift up the troops & march boldly ahead to success”.  Work is not war, & I have come to loathe that language.

Occasionally, I have had the privilege of being around good leaders, to learn from them.  Of course I fail awfully, but if only 1 in 10 of the ideas become part of me, the compounding effects have been invaluable.

 

[Link] The Truth About Open Offices

Like many others, Ethan Bernstein and Ben Waber question the value of the open office in this article in the HBR from 2019.  It’s particularly relevant when several companies are nudging their employees to return to the office, ostensibly for ‘collaboration‘ or ‘valuable human interaction‘:

When employees do want to interact, they choose the channel: face-to-face, video conference, phone, social media, email, messaging, and so on. Someone initiating an exchange decides how long it should last and whether it should be synchronous (a meeting or a huddle) or asynchronous (a message or a post). The recipient of, say, an email, a Slack message, or a text decides whether to respond immediately, down the road, or never.

Interestingly, the article also has this nugget, months before the pandemic driven remote-working enforcement:

If team members need to interact to achieve project milestones on time, you don’t want them working remotely.

[Link] Ritual4Return

via “Reasons to be Cheerful

Rituals abound when it comes to bringing people into the criminal justice system. Yet, there aren’t formal rituals to welcome people back to society after they serve time.

“No one can tell your story except for you and no one has gone through that type of suffering except for you. We can learn from each other’s pain, writing and any type of art”