Problems and solutions

There are an infinite amount of problems to fix.

Fortunately for us, there is an infinite amount of solutions too.

Although some of these solutions haven’t been invented or discovered yet—there is always a path to find.

More problems lead to more solutions. More solutions lead to more problems.

Design decisions

Designing requires decisions.

The choices you make can change the behavior of those you seek to serve. For better or for worst. And with choices always comes criticism. Never without.

We need to be careful about what criticism we choose to listen to.

It’s easy to look back and say we should have chosen a different route after we hit a dead end. Or perhaps, all we are hearing is just someone’s preference.

There is a reason we use the term backseat drivers—they are in the backseat. So, let’s be clear: You are in control of this project. You are the one making the decisions. Part of your job is to manage these criticisms.

Sure, we need feedback. Yet, most feedback isn’t actually that good. They are a glimpse into someone’s narrative and worldview.

It might be that the work you are doing isn’t for that person or they are not in the trenches. Best to not let it affect you from doing your work. Say thank you and get back to it.

And if you truly are getting great feedback, then hold onto them. That person that can look you in the eye and sincerely say, “I think you can do better” is so rare.

[Note: Most critics don’t get a chance to see what is behind the stage, they just see the final product. They don’t know what you know.]

Forward motion

No organization can move people better from Point A to Point B than Disneyland.

That’s the beauty of scientific management. You can identify the bottlenecks and work to resolve them (i.e. posting wait times and using Fast Passes).

With that, there is a reason that when you stand in line for Splash Mountain that you are never standing still for too long before you get moving again.

That is a placebo.

Even if I am still an hour away but I am moving toward something I can tell myself that I am getting closer. It changes the narrative. I can’t say that I am stuck.

Long arcs with slow progress still need a feeling of forward motion to help make the journey bearable.

It’s too hard to quit smoking if you don’t have a calendar to check off. Too difficult to run an Ultra without counting steps. And, of course, we are not just talking about smoking or running.

Find something that keeps you moving towards the goal.

Play with your heart

Before COVID-19, it didn’t make sense to take a leap. I mean, how long could the good times last?

During COVID-19, the excuses are everywhere.

And after? Well, you’ll probably need time to recover.

It just never makes sense to take a leap. Because…

Because you are playing with your head, not your heart.

Playing with your heart isn’t going to make the fear go away, but it will give you the right purpose.

1,500

In Greek, there is this term called Euphemia which translates to be unshaken while walking the path. 

It’s not the path for everyone, but perhaps, specifically for you.

It’s about being resolved, knowing you are on the path you are supposed to be without worrying about what the critics say.

This is my 1,500 post.

And despite the errors or fear of failure or COVID-19, I publish.

Every day.

Drip by drip becoming a little better at this craft.

Onto the next 1,500 I go. Thank you for going on this journey. I hope it inspires you to make a difference.

Now go, make a ruckus.

Power

The corrupt all have one common characteristic about them:

They are afraid of losing their position of power.

And it’s because deep down if you knew what they knew, you wouldn’t be happy with the decisions they’ve made.

The person who is willing to cheat the system is most likely the person who stands to lose the most.

Of course, we are not talking about just money here. But also status, title, narrative…

The best leaders, however, follow the opposite strategy.

They are constantly giving power to others.

To give is to get.

Finding our place in the world

I don’t think there are people that actually hate the world. They hate their place in it.

The world is so vast that it is difficult to sift through and somewhere to mark your mark.

The problem though isn’t a lack of choices here but the fact there are too many. It’s paralyzing, frightening to hold that much responsibility. To set the compass and to go explore.

We are quite happy to sit at home and give this away. Because if it doesn’t work then we have an excuse—someone else to blame for our problems. Whereas when we choose we can now blame ourselves.

Except, that isn’t completely true either. We can also simply try again if the course we picked didn’t work. We can skip the blame and shame and just try again.

Even in the age of a global pandemic and threat of financial meltdown, you have more choices (and yes opportunity) to go do work that matters.

Try again. Today.

Fake news

I don’t know anyone that doesn’t acknowledge that fake news is a problem.

But…

I also don’t hear anyone say they’ve been a victim of it either.

Someone has to be.

Our narrative works so hard to protect ourselves that when faced with facts that bring us one step closer to the truth we are unwilling to change our minds. Because we click to confirm not to change our narrative.

Any meme or idea (or even a virus) in order to spread needs the host to interact with another person. In order to overcome this infodemic, it helps to think and understand how ideas spread through this current landscape.

It turns out, we stick to our sources that align with our current political narrative. Pew Research breaks this down perfectly. People who watch Fox News are consistently conservatives. Viewers that are consistently liberal will view multiple sources.

Status roles are in play. To confront is to challenge one’s status. How do you appeal to someone’s status when what they’ve posted is largely false? Difficult. Difficult because we are now having to confront their narrative.

We’ve been through this before. Just not to this scale. In the early days, AOL used to be gatekeepers of the front page of the internet. So, how do they sort what gets on the front page? (How does pay to play fit in all of this?)

Perhaps, Facebook is the problem in all of this. Most of us don’t go to Instagram for political insight. Yet, they are essentially the same company. One answer may be Wikipedia. Wikipedia figured out how to break the authoritative model of information. Volunteers after putting in time become essentially gatekeepers. And when someone puts in the information that is inaccurate, the volunteer sets it back to its previous setting. We now know that Wikipedia is more accurate than Encyclopedia Britannica. Open systems beat closed systems every time.

Not surprisingly, we are not actually that good at sifting through what is real and what is fake. The problem isn’t getting any better either.

Bottom line: When is the last time a tweet changed your mind? Probably never. They are here to amplify messages. And it is a good reminder when it comes to social media companies, we are not the customer, we are the product.

Beyond the job description

Most jobs are given with a simple set of instructions that outlines what the bare minimum is. We call this the standard.

You’re expected to clock in on time, properly dressed, finish projects under budget, turn in your TPS reports…

Yet, we are surprised when someone goes beyond what has been asked of them.

It isn’t in your job description to care, to be brave, or to do generous work. But that is what the great ones do.

To all those laying it on the line right now, thank you.

Keep making things better by making better things.

Come from behind the screen

In the era of email, sometimes the signal we send gets crossed and isn’t properly perceived.

Maybe we got careless in our wording. Perhaps we just rubbed someone the wrong way. Regardless, there is a trick that works every time to fix this.

Pick up the phone and call the person. Tell them what happened and how you are here to make it right.

Much more difficult to do when we are constantly hiding behind a screen.

Rule of thumb: If one email doesn’t fix the situation, call.