Play outside the fence

We all have our routines, our events and networks, our ways of making sense of the world. It all kind of makes sense in our little patch, we know where things are, and that is why we like it. Nothing new happens here.

I am going to propose something different: Go somewhere else (this might well be virtually). This research is absolutely crucial if you are looking to make changes in your life and your work, as part of your research and networking and exploring where you might fit. 

Find out where your field of interest is gathering and playing, and go where they are. Dive into what matters to them. Embrace the discomfort of too many abbreviations and half-forgotten theories from way back when, in a different time and country. See who their luminaries, gurus and hotshots are. Who they like and don’t like, and why. How they see the world and what significance they attach to the same outside reality. Suspend your snappy inner judge for a bit and just roll with it.

I’m updating this post in early spring of 2021, where life is still largely virtual. That actually makes this a lot easier as there are plenty of opportunities to join a webinar and you won’t have to take a half day off from your current job to go somewhere. Find more of these opportunities. Use the flexibility that this online world gives you to research. A lot of this is free. Make the most of it. 

Curiosity and genuine interest are always a good look, so whoever you are, and whoever they are, go for it. Get yourself in there. You will be fine. Listen and learn. Whatever you are interested to find out more about – find where people meet, go to their (virtual, for now…) events, conferences, and consume their media, hang out on their platforms. Meet some new people. Network magic is in the weak links, not in the folks who know your jokes and finish your sentences.

The way things are going, these boundaries between disciplines will soften, and we are likely going to work in more portfolio-type of setups. We might have several different careers altogether, as one path weaves into the next, or a disruption resets the dial. You are going to need this, so get your practice runs in. It is also a whole lot more fun to work like that anyway. There are good people everywhere. They might be completely different from you in every way, but you’ll find they are people who care and who want to do something good that makes sense, and who have a craft they hone and that they use to make things better. I always take great comfort in that realization, it makes me appreciate the diversity and vastness of the human family.

What is something you are curious about? Anything that tickles your curiosity? An industry you are curious about? A hobby you are looking to take into something bigger? A passion waiting to become a potential business? Or a friend or colleague with a hobby completely different from your own?

Get your antennae out. So much is happening online and a lot of this is free. Take that time as your R&D time, immerse yourself, make some new friends. If everything goes wrong, you will have stories to tell. If everything goes well, things to read up on and lots of new friends. And even better stories. In every case you will learn more about the new space, the rules there and the people in it. 

(I wrote the first version of this in 2018 where most things were face to face and doing this kind of research was time consuming and expensive. 2020/21 is offering much more opportunities to start putting feelers out at a much smaller scale, to learn, meet, mingle. Go use it!)

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Want to go deeper on making change?
Get the book.
Or ping me about how coaching might help. 

Devil’s advocate – your new best friend

We humans want to be liked. We want people to like what we do. It feels great. It also seriously limits the scope for our decision making. To really get a sense of the lay of the land, to analyse, generate options and then come to a sound conclusion, we need as broad and realistic a picture as possible. We need to inject dissenting views into the picture to add more depth and dimension.

There are several ways to do this. One role is the so-called “devil’s advocate”, the person arguing the opposite case. I am deliberately calling this a role, not a person, this is a key distinction. A person can play this role without having to disagree, and you don’t need to invite your biggest adversary to the table if this is not going to be constructive.

Somebody playing devil’s advocate is performing a key service to you, to the quality of the decision making, to the process of the group. You can share this role around. If you are by yourself and don’t have a “phone joker” you can pull (tip: Develop a network of people who can be your “phone joker”), you can also step into this yourself. It might be better to do this with other people. But even doing this all by yourself is still better than not doing it at all as this is likely to surface additional helpful aspects.

How do you ensure balance and diversity of input in your decision making?


Check out the values worksheet here.
Or go deeper and get the book.
Or ping me about how coaching might help. 

Meet the values: Craftsmanship

Craftsmanship is how you go about your daily tasks. It involves skill, often physical, acquired through hours and hours of practice until it becomes muscle memory. It also involved expertise, knowing how something is done, which tools to use, what good looks like and what the process steps are to achieve it. And often, it is embedded in a community of practice, a group of people doing similar things, using the same craft, that challenge and support each other and develop the craft as a whole. Medieval trade guilds worked like that.
Nowadays, we seem to have forgotten some of this as a lot of our world has become more and more digital and commoditized. We long for something physical, that shows the touch of the creator. The handmade bowl, the precision haircut, the wooden table, the perfect flat white, the bespoke suit.
Becoming a good craftsman takes time, practice and dedication. Whether you are apprenticing as a hair dresser or as a video editor. Too often, we want the results, but without really wanting to give people the time and space to develop into this, or without the willingness to pay for good craftsmanship.
When craftsmanship is present and valued, it is one of the most beautiful things of human interaction, it is the market working at its best. The craftsperson puts their heart, soul and skills into something, and finds it valued and enjoyed. The compensation they get stems from the other craftsperson performing their craft and getting fairly rewarded. Everyone brings their gifts to the table. Everyone wins. This might be romantic, but just imagine for a minute what work, what life would feel like if this was true. And then go and make it so…
Some thought starters how to bring craftsmanship to life: 
  • What does a day look like that fosters craftsmanship and respect for it?
  • How do you do that bit of work?
  • Does this influence your lunch and food choices?
  • Your after work shopping?
  • How you interact with people?
  • How you seek out and reward expertise?
  • How you respond to and make use of other people’s contributions? The feedback you give, the feedback you receive?

Want to go deeper?

Check out the values worksheet here.
Or
go deeper and get the book.
Or
ping me about how coaching might help. 

On speed

Our lives consist of multiple facets that all grow and develop. Just not all at the same speed – remember puberty? (Hormones vs neocortex in the neverending battle of “is that actually a good idea”). Later, as our adult lives are chugging along, unless we get pushed from the outside, we rarely stop and check in with ourselves, our loved ones, our environment. We rarely take step back and check where we are, and how the puzzle of our different areas of life fits together, and what might need attention before things blow up.

It’s a bit like a dance choreography, or square dancing, where different parts can do their own thing for a bit, but then there are key points where everything needs to come together for this to work to not have your or others’ toes stepped on. Sometimes we need to take a look how these different sections work, in isolation, but also in their combination. Where are pain points? Where are things that just constantly drain energy?

Check out the values worksheet here.
Or
go deeper and get the book.
Or
ping me about how coaching might help. 

Clear line of sight

Where are we? Where do we go? What are safe paths, or obstacles along the way? When it comes to our own lives, often there are no maps, or none that we would consider valid. Some of the guiding lights from this journey have to come from within ourselves. Values are a good starting point.

They are the things you value (yes), what is important, what makes you YOU. They are where it hurts when stuff goes wrong, and where you become protective when it looks like it might go wrong.

Again, we are not looking for perfection. Let’s make it simple. Take a specific value (for example “craftsmanship”) and check in with yourself. How fulfilled is this value right now? How can you make this stronger, how can you have this value more represented in your life? What can you do today, next Monday? Keep it simple and actionable, just get this started.


Want to go deeper?

Check out the values worksheet here.
Or
go deeper and get the book.
Or
ping me about how coaching might help.