Plan for the Disruption of Your Plans
"Chaos often breeds life, when order breeds habit."
"Chaos often breeds life, when order breeds habit." - Henry Adams
Moving to the Pacific Northwest in the late '90s helped me get off the couch and start exploring the hiking world. At first, it was just local adventures - throw the boots in the truck, head out early to Mount Si, and try to beat the 'traffic' to the top. But, like everything, the obsession grew - taking on more challenges, longer trails, then doing something wacky like 'let's summit a volcano - Mt St Helens.'
Then, in late 1999, I read the fantastic book 'Into Thin Air' by Jon Krakauer, and just knew - I had to do this Everest thing.
Now, it was never my intention to go summit Chomolungma (as it's called in Nepal) - I just wanted to get above base camp, see the Khumbu Icefall and have the experience of a lifetime.
Of course, I kept a detailed journal of the adventure:
Today sucked. Started out early with a fairly easy hike until after lunch; we crossed a few high suspension bridges, and shortly after crossing Sagarmatha park entrance, things went south. Forgot the elevation gain, knees hurting, etc.. let's talk about the thunderstorm.
Heading to the tea house, we got soaked. Everything felt cold and heavy, The pain started to shoot through my hands, and breathing was heavy after we crossed 10,000ft. Everything feels numb and frozen.
The only good thing - I still can go to the bathroom, so I know that I'm starting to acclimate.
We finally stumbled into Namche, exhausted and frozen. The only thing I am looking forward to now is warming up in front of the fire. Which, turns out, was fueled by dried yak dung.
Tomorrow, we press on. No other choice, no turning back.
Sounds ah-maz-ing, huh? It was something...
So, why was I thinking about this now, 20+ years later? (Outside of wow - that was an extraordinary adventure I will never do again.)
I've been noodling recently about how people, teams, etc., react to things that don't go to plan. Most jobs tend to respond to things going wrong, like they are trying to save a few folks stranded on a busted spaceship far from home.
When something falls over, all hell breaks loose - Failure IS NOT an option.
The reality is (unless you work in one of those professions - if so, you can probably ignore everything else I say here and skip over it), no one will die. Sure, things can be uncomfortable. You can seem foolish. There are outages—stuff breaks. Shit happens.
The real test is how you react to those things and what you learn from them. You embrace failures as a part of the growth to get better.
But, what if you leaned even further into a philosophy of expected failure?
The Stoics call this 'premedatatio malorum' - the "premeditation of evils." The idea of expecting something to go south can help you deal with it when it does. Who knows, maybe this is where the concept of chaos engineering was conceived; the whole idea is frankly counterintuitive.
But think about it for a minute - if you plan for failure, you can react to it. How often have you been on a team with no backup plan? No run book?
I say - lean in. Try out the power of negative thinking and see where it goes. See what new skills it helps you develop or weaknesses you find.
Hopefully going to teach you the most important lesson: life happens, it's going to suck, but it will probably be okay.
You gotta embrace the chaos. You have to. That way life might just astonish you" - April, Hot Tub Time Machine
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I just adored this post from Basic Apple Guy on "Lesser Known Apple Watch Workouts."
The project started in early August and became a running collection of posts titled "Lesser known Apple Watch Workouts." This post is a collection of the first (but not the last) series of lesser-known Apple Watch workouts.
Thought of the week
While I bought it the first day it was available, I haven't had a chance to get to Ryan Holiday's newest book yet, Courage Is Calling, but it's on the must-read list for me.
I thought Ryan's "guest post" on Hugh MacLeod's newsletter sums up this book the best:
In the lives of history's great men and women, fear—and the triumph over it—is almost always the defining battle of their existence. Just as it will be for you. Because there is nothing worth doing that is not scary. There is no change, no attempt, no reach that does not risk failure. There is no one who has achieved greatness without wrestling with their own doubts, anxieties, limitations, and demons. There's almost no accomplishment that is possible without courage. The courage…
…to take a risk
…to be uniquely you
…to challenge the status quo
…to do what looks strange to others
…to run toward while others run away
…to do what people say is impossible
The question is will you listen to those people? Will you let fear prevent you from answering your call? Will you leave the phone ringing? Or will you win the battle? Will you do what you were put here to do?
How could you NOT read this book?
This weeks "Deep Links"
Here are a few of the articles and videos that resonated with me over the last week:
- Easily the read of the week, "The Mirror" explores the psychology behind the simple idea of 'the way you act is contagious to people around you.' For example, '*when you start treating any staff with kindness and as real human beings, you'll be surprised how quickly good things magically start happening. *' Really loved this post, and it's now in my commonplace book as a consistent reminder - More
- I came across "On Arguing With Idiots and Where Ideas Come From" shortly after I wrote "Maybe They're Just an Asshole." Continuing on the asshole theme, 'argue with idiots, and you become an idiot. The most important thing is to think about what you want, not to say what you want. and if you feel you have to say everything you think, it may inhibit you from thinking improper thoughts.' Well said. - More
- In an insightful look at different personas of leadership, "The Coach and the Fixer" dives into each and the different times when you need to listen versus act. - More
- "Happiness Is Two Scales" explores that you 'can have any combination of happiness and unhappiness' or 'feel not-at-all-happy but also not-at-all-unhappy.' It was a bit of a huh moment for me, but I agree that if you try to 'measure happiness in a single line, it just doesn't work. happiness and unhappiness are two separate, independent variables.' - More
- Full disclosure, I'm all in on remote work, but as many wrestle with what "Office 2.0" looks like with a mix of hybrid, remote, or return to the office, "Official myths" does a great job dispelling 'that young people need in real life cultures in order to grow and learn.' - More
- "Brands take note: The purpose of purpose is purpose" - More
- Well, this is a new one for me, but apparently, "The Best Way To Reheat Pizza" is on the grill - More
- Whenever I encounter an odd nursery rhyme, I get curious about its origin, and "The Old Woman Who Lives in a Shoe" doesn't disappoint. The most common analysis of the folk song from 1794 is that it 'captures the miserable plight of that lady who is trying her best to overcome the difficult situation of her life; she is concerned for her children's well-being and does her best even if it makes her lose her patience.' However, the original version ends with 'she whipped them all soundly and put them to bed' - More
- This was a fun one to read through and digest - "10 BINGO cards that may or may not be winners" - More
- File under 'most innovative' find of the week: "THE WALK OF LIFE PROJECT." This site explores how the Dire Straits song, Walk of Life changes the tone and emotion of ANY film. There are some great ones in here; I especially enjoyed The Silence of the Lambs - More
- I thought that Vader sounded great in Obi-Wan Kenobi, and it turns out that "An AI program voiced Darth Vader in 'Obi-Wan Kenobi' so James Earl Jones could finally retire." Read more about Respeecher here, really cool stuff - More
I've previously mentioned my recent obsession with Generative AI. I've been continuously playing it the last few weeks of newsletter 'art' has actually all generated - but this was a great/creative way to close out this week.
Someone went out and complied a video of Queen's classic Bohemian Rhapsody, with each lyric generated by Midjourney.
Be well. ✌🏻