From Panic to Bewilderment

“The first step is to tone down the prophecies of doom, and switch from panic mode to bewilderment. Panic is a form of hubris. It comes from the smug feeling that I know exactly where the world is heading — down. Bewilderment is more humble, and therefore more clear-sighted. If you feel like running down the street crying ‘The apocalypse is upon us!’, try telling yourself ‘No, it’s not that. Truth is, I just don’t understand what’s going on in the world.”

Yuval Noah Harari in 21 Lessons for the 21st Century.
Bewilderment is more humble

Via Book Freak Issue #51 by Mark Frauenfelder, a newsletter with “short pieces of advice from books.” Hat tip, Matt.

Beginnings

It is always hard to believe that the courageous step is so close to us, that it is closer than we ever could imagine, that in fact, we already know what it is, and that the step is simpler, more radical than we had thought: which is why we so often prefer the story to be more elaborate, our identities clouded in fear, the horizon safely in the distance, the essay longer than it needs to be and the answer safely in the realm of impossibility.

This very simple step is all that is needed for the new responsibilities ahead.

From Consolations by David Whyte.

Review: Everything is Figureoutable

Everything is Figureoutable

Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo.

My Goodreads rating: 4 of 5 stars.

This is a powerful, pragmatic, and motivational reference that I’ll revisit again each year.

The basic premise throughout is that any problem, dream, goal, or task are figureoutable. Meaning that if I break it down into achievable steps, face my fears about starting it, and truly want to say “yes” to it — and then take full responsibility for failing and learning from the experience — I can and will “win” because I learn and grow.

All you need is one core meta belief, a master key that unlocks every imaginable door in the castle of your consciousness. It’s like throwing a switch that instantly illuminates a field of infinite potential. If you haven’t yet guessed, the whole purpose of this book is to inspire you to adopt the supremely powerful belief that everything is figureoutable!

Marie Forleo

The book is full of coaching tips, motivational stories, and testimonials from people who follow Marie’s teachings on MarieTV and her B-School course for entrepreneurs.

Read on Kindle, free from my local library.

View all my book reviews, and see my books on Goodreads.

An Advice Process Paves the Way for Clear Decisions

In Brave New Work Aaron Dignan describes a wonderfully clear way to use an “advice process” to make better decisions.

Watch a short video on YouTube where author Aaron Dignan illustrates the advice process (at minute 4:45).

Start with consent by asking for agreement. Get buy-in and move things forward. This not consensus or everyone is 100% happy with it, instead it means it is safe to try.

Use an advice process. Whenever you’re about to make a decision that’s irreversible or could damage things, go seek advice from those who’ve done it before. And, seek advice from those affected by it.

This replaces the waiting and expectation for a leader to do something—top-down decision making—with your own judgement and responsibility.

Computational Kindness

People are almost always confronting what computer science regards as the hard cases. Up against such hard cases, algorithms make assumptions, show bias toward simpler solutions, trade off the costs of error against the costs of delay, and take chances.

These aren’t the concessions we make when we can’t be rational. They’re what being rational means.

Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths in Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions

The last chapter on computational kindness in Algorithms to Live By is worth the entire book.

Review: Aware, The Science and Practice of Presence

A visual look at the Wheel of Awareness.

This book by Daniel Siegel guided me beyond the popular meditation apps like Calm and Headspace into something different, the “Whole of Awareness.” The idea is to integrate all types of meditation and awareness training practices from focus attention, to open awareness, to connectedness—non-duality.

The core practice involves visualizing a center hub of awareness, a spoke of attention, and a rim which holds all possible focuses. From the 5 senses, body awareness, thoughts/emotions, and feeling connected to other humans, beings, and things.

Dan repeats a phrase over and over to underline why a practice like this leads to improved well-bing: “Where attention goes, neural firing flows, and neural connection grows.”

Increase neural integration in the brain, enabling more coordination and balance in both the functional and structural connectivity within the nervous system that facilitates optimal functioning, including self-regulation, problem solving, and adaptive behavior that is at the heart of well-being.

For online resources including narrated meditations (short, medium, and long) visit: Dr. Dan Siegel – Resources – Wheel Of Awareness.

Practical and insightful. Hat tip: Akshay Kapur.


📚 View more of my book reviews on Goodreads.

Product Management: Active Questions

I’m a fan of Oblique Strategies for triggering a new perspective when I get stuck. To me this method brings active questions to trigger better thinking.

This practice comes up for me frequently in product management when working on both short and long views of a roadmap. As part of any decision making process, whether by myself for reflection, or in a team working on a product change, I might ask something like:

What is the end result for our customers?
Where are we going in the long term?

The purpose of active questions, like Oblique Strategies, is to trigger more questions until you get a better answer. A truer answer. An honest answer. To find the why is to find the signal that drives everything else forward.

Who is it for?
How will they understand it’s for them?
How will we know if it’s a success?
What do we expect to see change?
How are we measuring it?
What would be a surprise here; something that we don’t expect?
Have we considered doing the opposite?
Who has the most to gain?
What’s the context?

What questions do you ask to find the why?

Making the Future

Objectives are always based on expectations. And expectations are, at best, informed guesses. The world does not stand still.

Objectives are not fate; they are direction. They do not determine the future; they are a means to mobilize the resources and energies of the business for the making of the future.

Via Daily Drucker for November 14.


Editorial note: Speaking of the future, I created this post with a beta version of the new WordPress editor experience, Gutenberg.

Untying the Knots of Language

Untying the knots of language begins with seeing that whenever something is said, other communication is carried along with it. Sometimes the sender is aware of the unsaid, but often they are not… The unsaid but communicated includes assumptions, expectations, disappointments, resentments, regrets, interpretations, significance…

The message of the impact of clarity in language from the book The Three Laws of Performance by Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan hit home to me this week. I often find myself “bound by the knots of language” in work and in life.

No matter how smart or insightful people are, we are all prone to being hijacked by what is unsaid — especially the unsaid about which people are unaware.

To misunderstand or not listen or prejudge is to be human, and yet I’m frequently surprised about the assumptions and judgements I bake into my own words. Resentment is there; disappointment, too. Sometimes simply saying the words out loud, and getting feedback from other people, reveals everything.

The process starts with becoming aware of what people are not saying but are communicating. The unsaid and communicated but without awareness becomes linguistic clutter. Thinking about cluttered physical spaces offers insight into what happens in situations where people are bound by the knots of language. Such situations occur as tiring chaotic and unfinished. The key to performance is not pushing new conversations about strategy or reorganization into an arty cramped space. Instead, it is about clearing out the clutter. Almost universally, it is the unsaid that is cluttered for individuals, groups, and organizations. Before anything you can happen people need to do the linguistic equivalent of clearing out closets. This means moving issues into the light of discussion, saying them, and examining them in public. When people can address and articulate the unsaid, space begins to open up.

For the full context of these quotes, see the source: Three Laws of Performance Review (PDF) by “The Business Book Review” (Copyright 2009 EBSCO Publishing Inc.).


With a nod to my colleague and friend Ian Stewart who wrote on the wisdom of duplication this week, here’s a duplicated audio version of the context for the quotes (reading from the PDF).