Finding Your Voice

“You must strive to find your own voice, boys, and the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all.”

Finding Your Voice
using DALL-E2 to generate 'exiting a dark cave when you find your authentic voice'.
"You must strive to find your own voice, boys, and the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all." - Dead Poets Society

First, I'd like to thank several people that reached out to me after last week's entry to check in to see if everything was ok. Besides being low on coffee, yes: I am fine. It was more of a reminder to stop and breathe, and it was what I needed to do.

This week marks another significant change as my oldest heads off to college.

I was thinking back if there was any 'unsolicited' advice that I could impart to my son as he headed off onto the next step on the journey into adulthood. (Side note: even though I'm 51, I feel like I'm still trying to figure this whole adulthood thing out 🤪)

This clump of self-reflection is probably one of the most impactful things I've tried to practice over the years.

Find your authentic voice.

In a world filled with noise, fake online perfect existances, horrors of war and just about every level of stress imaginable, there are few things harder than finding your authentic voice.

In many areas of life, humans develop various personalities depending on what they want (or think you want) as others perceive them. You see or read about a character in a book that is strong or important, and you think, "if I act that way, I'll have the same results." Or you develop personas based on situations: "She/He is super tough" (even though they are really sensitive or easily affected), or "she's/he's a great listener" (even though you seem like you're listening and saying 'I don't give a fuck' inside your head).

Heck, at one time, someone told me, "just pretend you're crazy so everyone just leaves you alone"; I thought that would be an excellent method not to get close to people to avoid getting hurt and just doing what I wanted to do. Kinda dumb looking back.

I'm not saying there are certain behaviors you shouldn't try to emulate (such as "own your shit") in your unique way to bring out your voice, but being a fake representation of yourself (the 'Facebook self' or basing it on perceived popularity or belief you'll advance in a corporation), is only a path to feeling more incomplete. More insecure. An imposter.

Finding your voice means you know who you are at your core. Void of outside influence. Then use this voice to speak up and tell the world you matter even if you feel otherwise. It takes courage and faith to own your voice.

You need to walk your path and be honest with yourself.

Few things are more powerful than understanding yourself and connecting with your narrative.

Inside each and every one of us is one true authentic swing. Somethin' we was born with
Somethin' that's ours and ours alone
Somethin' that can't be taught to ya or learned
Somethin' that got to be remembered...
Over time the world can rob us of that swing..
.
It get buried inside us under all our wouldas and couldas and shouldas...
Some folk even forget what their swing was like...

And with that, strive to find your own voice...

If you enjoy these posts, you can buy me a coffee ☕️, or if you'd rather keep up with my daily ramblings, follow me on Twitter or keep reading my posts on this blog.

Forward Thinking

My friends (perhaps it's a function of age) have been discussing careers, what they fill the days with, and the lessons they've learned over the years.

This week, Derek Thompson had a brilliant article in the Atlantic, "Your Career Is Just One-Eighth of Your Life" in which he talks about five pieces of career advice. Interestingly, I found that these echo many of the nuggets I've learned or been taught that I found helpful, but it's important to heed his general warning on advice:

Career advice as a genre is almost fatally flawed.
The most common counsel is almost always too personal to be broadly applicable. My toes curl with embarrassment when successful people say anything along the lines of "Just do these three things I did."

Autobiography is not advice.

Given how poorly most people understand themselves, it's barely even autobiography.

It's a great read, and I'll quickly summarize the lessons he puts forth:

  1. Your career is not your life.
  2. Explore, then exploit.
  3. Don't do the job you want to tell other people you do. Do the job you want to do.
  4. Be ruthlessly honest with yourself about what you value and how much professional success matters to you.
  5. Flow comes from voluntary, difficult, and worthwhile work.

All important lessons, and the one in which I have found a ton of value, is #3. I've often been asked my tips for success, and it's been "write your own job description."

But I'd encourage you to read his entire post; it's a good one full of outstanding and valuable ideas.

Thoughts of the week

Latest obsession

This week marked the annual Apple Event; this year was coined "Far Out."

As I used to do a pretty full breakdown of the event, I'm often asked right afterward for my thoughts and if I was buying anything. The answer: of course I bought stuff. :)

Here's a quick rundown of what I'm upgrading to:

  • AirPods Pro 2 - I use the AirPods Pro every day, for almost every call, so with the new "low distortion audio driver," upgraded H2 chip, seems like a no-brainer.
  • Apple Watch Ultra - The watch is my primary 'health device,' so I always upgrade to get the latest and greatest sensors. With a  more rugged case, 36 hours of battery, and a focus on exercise, another no-brainer for me.
  • iPhone 14 Pro - And, duh. New camera, new phone time. It's come to the point where the phone is my primary computing device, so I always am on the latest/greatest.

Finally, what I thought was one of the most interesting images of the week - was a comparison of the screen size/resolution of the new Ultra to the original iPhone.

Here are a few of the articles and videos that resonated with me over the last week:

  • "The Builder's High" was just what I needed this week; it tapped into the core emotional feeling of why I love writing software or writing newsletters. "It's staring at a thing that you brought into the world because you decided it needed to exist." Nailed it. - More
  • "The Philosophy of SimCity: An Interview With the Game's Lead Designer" had some fascinating insights from the game's creators on design and gameplay. "We quickly realized there were way too many parking lots in the real world and that our game was going to be boring if it was proportional in terms of parking lots'. I enjoyed some of the discoveries they made - More
  • How very 2022: "The super-rich 'preppers' planning to save themselves from the apocalypse." Apparently, 'billionaires are buying up luxurious bunkers and hiring military security to survive a societal collapse they helped create.' Lovely. - More
  • "10 Ways We Constantly Renew Ourselves" explores the idea of reframing when we stumble into 'survival—upcycling' moments. It's a path to a new future created from what is currently causing you to fail. 'If you're feeling unproductive or useless, please note: you are not. Your experience of brokenness or uselessness is simply the beginning of a process of renewal'. - More
  • I've spent a ton of time slowly lensing into what I want to do when I grow up (see Life 2.0). "Building a post portfolio career" reminds us that the most important thing is that 'When you base your work decisions on the people you choose to work with and not the project' you find value - More
  • The book "What If? 2" tries to answer "What If You Tried to Swallow a Whole Cloud?" and many other absurd questions with scientific answers - More
  • "zoom is not the problem — meetings are" is my favorite find of the week. And a solid reminder that the most crucial question is asked is 'why the meeting is necessary in the first place' - More
  • The last few years have been a train wreck in one form or another, but "The Lingering of Loss" was a fascinating read. The author had been willed an old laptop from a friend that sat for many years in 'a box and stored in the back of the cupboard where I keep my fabric, yards of cambric and calico and gingham.' When she decided to boot it up, her inquest began - More
  • "🎂 Celebrating 17 years at Microsoft" is a thoughtful retrospective on the best paths to navigate a long career. Some personal favorites: 'smartly managing your time, your tasks, and your information diet has a way bigger impact on getting you to leadership roles than anything else' - More
  • If you're looking to improve the quality of the people you are bringing into your organization, "Bar raisers, hiring committees, and other complex ways to improve hiring quality" has some great methodology.  - More
  • "Finding persistent invisible systems" was a great one from Seth that taps into the idea that 'systemic problems require systemic solutions' and that 'systems change when their inputs change and when the rules change' - More
  • Meta-work is the 'step-sibling of procrastination.' A quick read, but I thought it was something that most of us fall into; "Why you're always busy with nothing to show for" and spend time on 'low-value you work that doesn't move you any closer to your goals.'- More

Fin

This week marks the 30th anniversary of what is generally accepted as the best hacker movie of all time, Sneakers.

In "Decrypting Sneakers":

The premise of Sneakers is its biggest misdirection of all. What seems to be a movie about high-tech culture is a fundamentally low-tech story. Roger Ebert wrote, "one of the weaknesses of the movie is the way it pretends to be a techno-thriller when in fact it recycles much older traditions."

But it's not a weakness; it's the point. Sneakers is about human beings and their relationships, how the solutions to their problems are low-tech: distracting the concierge with a delivery of Liquid Drano, kicking down the door, listening, teamwork, and a dim sum date with Stephen Tobolowsky.

And:

Even in the world of sneakers, emotional intelligence and quick thinking have more value than information.

I didn't come across "The Making of Sneakers" until this week, and here it is for you to you enjoy as well:

Be well. ✌🏻