Spencerian: Nelson Mandela



I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair.

A little help

I have been procrastinating by looking through my feedreader.  Merely typing that out now was cathartic (even though I will go back to continue reading).

The procrastination has to do with the discomfort of thinking about what the future of work holds. Both at a macro level (“why do we work?”) and at a personal level (“what kind of work do I want to do, and why?”). David Graeber’s article “On Bullshit Jobs” has cropped up in hundreds of conversations.  As a contrast, several recent incidents at work have got me wondering about the gatekeeping class, and their ruthless effectivenes at keeping the status quo – or even strengthening it, leading the steady march towards mediocrity.

I choose to introspect: what impact do I want to have on the world? what change do I want to make happen?  The answers feel like writing with a finger  on a mist-covered mirror.  Apparently clear when being written, and illegible or non-existent when I return a bit later.

Thank heavens for the support of the people around me who continue to keep me honest; who help me see me when I cannot (or will not) see myself; and who give their time generously to let me bounce ideas off them.

More Learning

Should I learn for the sake of learning? Or should it be because I want to apply it somewhere or to something?

At various times in my life, I’ve vacillated between the two approaches. I recollect wanting to learn about things just because I was curious about them. I’d read books – that was all I had access to – and marvel at the imaginative ways I’d find the characters in the books behave. Then came school, and I *had* to learn things because they were on the test. Some things were really interesting but they were “out of syllabus”. I recollect the teachers telling me to shut up with my questions because “you don’t need to know that for the test!”. It must have gotten into my psyche and for a while after, I remember ignoring things I was really interested in.

More recently, I’ve begun learning things that don’t necessarily have an immediate application. I started an online course on “Game Theory” and “Design Fundamentals” (which I finished today).  At a cursory, daily, practical level, both have little application. At a deeper, daily, practical level, they will help me understand interactions a little better than I do right now, and to communicate better through my presentations and written communications.

Showing up every day, and doing the work every day. Those are promises I make myself – and have failed to keep up in the past. I’ve got to learn how to do this better, and with a system I can put my efforts behind partly working for me, I put myself and my learning to the test.

Spencerian: James Clear

It’s been a few days since I picked up a calligraphy pen, a deliberate holiday from all things routine. It was helpful for certain, and today’s quote is a reminder about why.



“The gift of a beginner is fresh eyes.

The longer you’re in a field, the harder it is to perceive new truths. Your mind is biased toward refining what you’re already doing instead of exploring fresh terrain.

Take your expertise and apply it to something new.”

Cult or Culture?

I accidentally discovered and listened to Titus Winters splendid talk at the Association for Computing Machinery (moderated by Hyrum Wright). It led me to the book they’ve co-authored (& available to read freely online), in particular, the chapters on Culture, written by Brian Fitzpatrick.

From my experience and close observations of this “culture” thing, I’ve begun to recognise the chasm that exists between leaders who believe their organisations have the culture, and the engineers who are employed who believe it’s just another job. So what does Google (as a tech company) do that is not just a $’s thing? After all, not everyone has the $$’s and deep pockets that G has.

I’m not going to attempt my synthesis of Part II: Culture  in this post – it’s a reminder to self to do so.  (my excuse: a long day trip to the Powerhouse Museum has left me with much inspiration but little energy to continue writing as the clock nears midnight!)

Re-discovering

Thought farts come easy. Long form essays are harder.  Morning Pages come easier now. Writing publicly everyday sucks.

My notebook has not been written in much, over the last few months. Not even my daily calendar/log that I did for a while last year. Last week, I began (again) synthesizing and writing ideas out every day in it. A choice of color, fountain pens and otherwise, has made the exercise a joyous one. I captured many ideas from my various readings that otherwise would go into my sieve-like mind to be promptly forgotten. I have a bunch of ideas that are now visible at the turn of a page. They become jump off points to explore in my daily writing/reading – subjects that remain interesting enough to dig into a bit more detail, ideas worth thinking longer about.

The joy of discovering things has been wonderful, and so has the joy of forgetting and re-discovering things.

 

Spencerian: John C Maxwell



The bottom line in managing your emotions is that you should put others – not yourself – first in how you handle and process them. Whether you delay or display your emotions should not be for your own gratification. You should ask yourself, What does the team need? Not, What will make me feel better?

Short

The hardest thing I’ve had to do all day was to unpin a chat with a human that was steadfastly optimistic, and left the organisation today. I will still be in touch, but the context in which we grew together no longer is common. That feels tougher than it should.

 

Recognition

Inspiring people are everywhere. Not merely inspiring, they are generous with their ideas, their advice, and their time. I’m truly lucky to have come across many such people throughout my career. In the early phase of my career, I’ve been guilty of not acknowledging their help, sometimes even brashly disregarding and/or disrespecting them.

It’s only upon reflection that I see how much their support has meant, how much they’ve influenced the way I think and behave.  I’ve been able to reconnnect with several of them over the years. It’s lucky that many are still alive, and are accessible.  I’ve made the the time to acknowledge their help to me. I’ve regretted deeply that it took me such a long time to understand and acknowledge. Better late than never.

I reconnected with another person today, after being reminded of their support by an article posted about them. They’ve probably forgotten me already, given the number of people they meet on a daily basis. They’ve very likely forgotten the questions they asked at the time, over a decade ago. I have too, but I remember how they made me feel.

It’s been a good day to reconnect. It’s been a good day to pay it forward too.