Perceptions and Reality
"What (if) we perceive isn't the real world at all, but just our mind's best guess? That all we really have is a garbled reality, a truly fuzzy picture we will never make out?" - Elliot, Mr. Robot
If there's a theme that's starting to take root for me this year, it's self-reflection and reinvention. I've been re-reading a lot of my past daily journal entries, and I've been discovering patterns that are starting to provide me with some direction.
For example, I keep revising the concept around how things happen in reality versus in our minds.
Of course, I want to be mentally strong and embrace some of Seneca's more stoic philosophy around these feelings, but my only comment is that it's a work in progress. :)
There are more things ... likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality. - Seneca
As a leader, one of the things that I have tried to lens in on with my teams (or when I'm asked for career advice) is to adopt a mindset that 'everyone is going through something'. You have no idea what's going on behind the screen and across your Zoom. Assume positive intent.
The truth is that 95% of the time — the terrible meeting you just had where someone lashed out, took an odd stance, was a jerk, or perhaps wasn't even paying attention — it's often not about YOU.
In another conversation this week, I was advising someone about dealing with thoughts of imposter syndrome - the same thing applies here. We all feel it. BUT people aren't thinking about YOU as much as you think they are. It's in your head.
"It's one thing to question your mind; it's another to question your eyes and ears. But, then again, isn't it all the same? Our senses just mediocre inputs to our brain? Sure, we rely on them, trust they accurately portray the real world around us, but what if the haunting truth is they can't? That what we perceive isn't the real world at all, but just our mind's best guess? That all we really have is a garbled reality, a truly fuzzy picture we will never make out?"
I like to tackle these things by throwing these thoughts around with my personal board of directors. Use that trusted circle of advisors to talk about your feelings - they can be a significant compass in helping you determine reality versus what you think is going on. Leverage them.
I am feeling in a bit of a Mr. Robot mood this week, so I'll close things out with one of the best monologues from season 4.
And, yeah, there are setbacks. We do fucked up things to each other. And we hurt each other, and it gets messy, but that's just us, in any world you're in. And, yeah, you're right. We're all told we don't stand a chance, and yet we stand. We break, but we keep going, and that is not a flaw. That's what makes us. So, no, I will not give up on this world.
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In 2006, a group of students at Xavier High School in New York City were given an assignment by their English teacher, Ms. Lockwood: they were asked to write to their favorite author and ask him or her to visit the school.
Kurt Vonnegut wrote an amazing letter in response. He was the only author to reply. Enjoy Sir Ian McKellen, reading the response entitled "Make your soul grow..."
Thought of the week
This month, I've been soaking in Priya Parker and the fabulous "Art of Gathering." Something is fascinating in figuring out ways to have more meaningful get-togethers (for work, friends, life).
So, it was cool to come across these wild Basecamp Cards.
A unique deck of playing cards with the icebreaking, conversation prompting questions. They were founded to create the ultimate campfire conversations. Ranging from thought-provoking to goofy, these multipurpose cards will provide endless fun at camp, on the crags, or on the coffee table.
I keep having this picture in my mind of sitting around a fire, sipping whiskey, and having great conversations with fascinating people. I'll let you know how it goes. :)
This weeks "Deep Links"
Here are a few of the articles and videos that resonated with me over the last week:
- In my favorite read of the week, Andrew Bosworth (aka Boz) talks about ruthless prioritization in "Half Staffed is Unstaffed." 'If I wasn't willing to commit significant time to something, I was better off not working on it.'.. 100% spot on. - More
- "The Curse of Availability" explores what fills our inboxes and takes up our time daily. How much of this stuff is important? And how much of your schedule is dictated by others by a sense of obligation to them? - More
- Wow! I loved the concept of 'snacking' through getting work done, and "The first rule of prioritization: No snacking" was another eye-opener. Read more on how 'the high-effort, high-impact work reflects the strategy you're deliberately deploying. Everyone's favorite quadrant is the low-effort, high-impact stuff. But when you continually pick the low-hanging fruit, the branches will stop growing, so this work dries up quickly as your product and team matures.' - More
- "Success and Failure at Pebble" is another great one this week that chronicles the rise and fall and the lessons learned by one of the first fascinating wrist-based computing devices, Pebble (and no one remembers Microsoft Spot). The concept of 'learning from failure' is often overlooked - More
- 'A simple identity question is simply a state of mind.' Powerful words in "Flick your identity switch" which tickle an exciting concept - may be the key to changing your mindset is something that you can do - flip the switch into what you want your identity to be - More
- John Cutler has a super helpful diagram to help teams figure out what they should do or can do. Read "Can Do vs. Should Do" to check out his process - More
- People are often surprised when I'm having a conversation about imposter syndrome. We all have it. "How I Calmed My Imposter Syndrome with These Two Tricks" explores two useful mind-hacks to calm your anxiety - More
- I'm often asked, how do you get through everything on a week-to-week basis? The answer lies in workflows, automation, and rigor developed, re-worked, destroyed, and re-created. "Curated Inputs" explores how 'filtering and focus are vital to this effort, allowing me to glean more of the valuable bits—the signal— from the global info-stream'- More
- Jordan Peterson presents this talk entitled "Use This Psychotherapy Technique To End All Of Your Arguments" at Cambridge. I always enjoy studying the human condition, so give this one a watch if you want to increase your influencing super-powers - More
- I knew when I saw an article titles'How to be provocative without being a troll', it was going to be a must-read and how spiky points of view are 'a point of view is a perspective others can disagree with. It's a belief you feel strongly about and are willing to advocate for. It's your thesis about topics in your realm of expertise.' Read more about "🌵 Spiky point of view: Let's get a little controversial" - More
This week, let's end with Julian Lennon performing 'IMAGINE' (for the first time publicly) for Global Citizen's Stand Up For Ukraine.
In a tweet, he said:
The War on Ukraine is an unimaginable tragedy...As a human, and as an artist, I felt compelled to respond in the most significant way I could. So today, for the first time ever, I publicly performed my Dad’s song, IMAGINE.
Be well. ✌🏻