Learning by osmosis

I’d like to get on this bandwagon on self-deprecating humor, but I’m not sure if I’ll be good at it. 🙂

Impostor syndrome raises its ugly head and screams out loudly every time I join in one of these fascinating sessions I’m on a distribution list of. The speaker today was the author John Markoff, who’s biography of Stewart Brand is just out.

Listening to the speakers in the audience, many of who have had more experience than I’ve been alive, whose accomplishments dwarf everyone else’s by miles, is the simplest way I’ve known of learning about ideas and people. And tonight was no different.

I also realised that I’ve already been reading many of the links and references that were shared today.  What I’ve not done (or even know how to approach) is to synthesize these ideas so I can express them. Something to learn.

Spencerian: Jenee Desmond-Harris



 

I started dividing my to-do list into 1) things I have to do, 2) things I want to do, and 3) things other people want me to do. Life changing! I often don’t get to #3 and I finally realized… this is what it means to have boundaries.

Stupid Rules

What one rule would you get rid of that would automatically improve the quality of your day?

Referring to Lisa Bodell’s book “Kill the Company”, I read a couple of articles today that wondered what “stupid rules” could be killed that would immediately remove a massive frustration for people in the team.

Reflecting on my own life, I think the rule that kids should be quiet when they’re learning something has my vote. I will struggle with it, particularly with 11-year-old, but it’s incredibly hard to concentrate for any longer than 20 minutes for adults. Why do our learning institutions (and myself included) insist that kids do it for longer than that?

I observed today also something that made me want to contribute what little I can that could potentially help youth and young kids. It will take a lot of self-reflection to reconsider my decision from a couple of decades ago. I left feeling disheartened and worn-down by the bureaucracy and politics and hypocrisy. Has it changed that much? Have I changed since then?

ASAP

What might happen if instead of doing things As Soon As Possible, we did them As Slow As Possible?

The Long Now Foundation’s recent article that got me thinking about this concept for my own life. What things are worth taking the time to do deliberately, slowly?

The pace of the last week – the conversations, the commute, the long chats with a couple of friends, the sleep patterns, domestic needs – each seemed to be prefaced or ended at a faster pace than I was ready for. Reading all afternoon, sitting at the dinner table, has been a dramatically different pace to everything else I’ve done today, including typing out this thought.

 

Witnesses

I missed a day of writing a daily blog post. No regrets.

It’s been three long days of commuting, and the wild weather that started yesterday added its special sauce too. It was all worth the effort, because I got to spend time with people I respect, admire, learn from, and love dearly. The project I was working on – a handwritten compilation of heartfelt notes of appreciation to the soon departing bossman – reached it’s intended recipient. No words were spoken, neither possible nor necessary. He has been the finest examples of leadership I’ve ever had the privilege of witnessing. Watching him walk out the door this evening was an overwhelming, sorrowful feeling.

Witnessing authentic leadership at close quarters is also incredibly inspiring. Titles don’t matter. Words, behaviours, relationships, conversations do. Helping people accomplish what they want, or more often, don’t even realise they are capable of, is a magnificently satisfying, immensely appealing idea that I’ve come to value highly.

Commuting

Commuting an hour and a half each way sucks. It’s exhausting, energy levels were lowest when I finally reached home. Adapting to this is extended period of absence from home is not easy for the domestic environment either. Why did we do this unthinking commute for years?

Meeting people in person allows some things to progress, and others to slow right down. Being deliberate in how we work, particularly when in the office, is not a choice most people seem willing to do. I observed most people glued to their screens in the office. I don’t quite understand the desire to get everyone into the office – it feels more “cult-ish” than “culture” to me. If the whole team isn’t going to be meeting in person, if the team is scattered across multiple cities, why gather in a central location requiring a 11 hour day for most people?

I’m grateful that I still have the opportunity to continue working from home, with a supportive group of peers. We make things happen without needing us to be physically present, even though it grates on our own selves sometimes.

Speaking

I’ve been invited to talk to a group of emerging leaders in a week from now, on a topic that their mentors recognise as missing: speaking succinctly.

I don’t often know why I’m speaking, let alone what the point is. I beat around the bush. I speak in metaphors no one seems to understand at first, so I spend time explaining what the metaphor was. I’m so busy thinking a reply to the person speaking that I forget to listen. Because I’ve not listened, I misinterpret what was being said while attempting to pretend that I understood. And on and on.

Early in my career, I was lucky to be handed a couple of audiobooks by two master craftsmen of the spoken word: Bob Proctor and Jim Rohn. I listened to their talks on repeat on my drive to and back from work. I listened to them so many times that I could recite their talks verbatim.  Some ideas made perfect sense. Others took a while, sometimes even years.

For me, Jim Rohn’s message boiled down to this: “Have something good to say. Then say it well.” 

Sincerity. Repetition. Brevity. Style. Vocabulary.

It’s what you say, and how you say it.

Time Tripping

The time’s they are a’changin! – Bob Dylan.

The clock went back an hour this morning, and I took more advantage of an extra couple of hours of sleep. The rest is certainly doing me good.

I finally got my project finished this afternoon. Not the finish I was hoping for – and a good reason why I might want to learn how to do book binding. The contributors to the project will be pleased too, I hope.

On a drive, saw a car wrap advertisement for guitar making courses. Craftsmanship exists everywhere, and I’m noticing it more and more lately. I found a few pictures online yesterday that I started to sketch, and was pleasing to discover I could, still. It’s been nearly 3 decades since I deliberately sketched something.

 

Craftsmanship

I’ve been focused on a project throughout this week, culminating in a trip to the local stationery shop this afternoon. Writing, finessing, crafting, redrafting, writing it out – the one skill I felt missing was book-binding! A substantial amount of time later, I feel exhausted and satisfied. The end result wil be available to see tomorrow at 4 pm.

Craftsmanship will likely never go out of fashion. Regardless of how much automation and machine work takes over much of artisanship, handmade stuff still says “I cared enough to make this a labour of love.” That is reason enough to keep at my craft, all of them.

 

Structured Reflections

I struggled with my morning pages today. I woke up later than usual, reached for my phone, had the morning chores, and by the time I sat down to write, I was annoyed at myself. That gives no chance for me to get into the flow. I did write several pages of calligraphy that I won’t share here, but a quote for today is still due.

I learned how to ask questions that offers stories instead of answers. (HT Rob Walker). I practised them along with my Toastmasters colleagues and it surfaced some deep, intimate stories that would otherwise have never been shared.

I felt pleased that I was able to bring another 50 or so people together today to listen to a colleague’s amazing campervan adventure, dodging lockdowns while working from the remotest regions of Australia.  Guilt, shame, pride, joy, happiness, laughter, all popped up at various times during the day.

I didn’t have a chance to read much today – browsing reddit doesn’t count. That, thankfully, was not out of control, a few minutes perhaps.

I asked at least three people about their experiences that few seem to be interested in, and yet are a great opportunity for improvement. The insights have helped shape a conversation I have tomorrow. Some more preparation necessary.

Responding to a structure as simple as “What I wrote, felt, read, asked, learned” is useful to reflect on the day, particularly when mental and physical fatigue prevail over the desire to write.