Writing to learn, learning to write. With practice comes clarity of purpose. #100days
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www.enablehuman.com @mali_finally

Day 84 - The mouse and the platypus

I've been intending to launch a LeadIN cohort in Dubai since I arrived almost two years ago. I quickly learned that I had to first build a network that I can tap into. Two years on, the networks I can tap into are available, the messaging for LeadIN is falling flat.

I realized I was too close to this thing so I had a few people take a look at the form. I received a ton of feedback on the form, mainly that it's too long, and not one person read the program overview. It was a resounding, "Moe, we like you...but we ain't got time for a wall of text."

Part of the challenge is that people feel LeadIN is ambiguous, the benefits intangible, and the language not matter of course. I'm disadvantaged by my past experience, I recognize it now as something that has limited my effectiveness in communicating the upcoming cohort. I'm no longer a past participant, I'm the convener. No, I'm the mouse, squeaking away, unheard in the din of Dubai.  Were I a platypus, I'd instantly command curiosity. So how can I do that as a mouse?

Serendipitously (pun intended), one of the patterns I'm meant to observe over the coming weeks is called "Expanding Situational Curiosity". I think I'll use my goal of getting people signed up for the LeadIN Dubai cohort by September 30th, as a means of exploring this pattern. I'll need to think through how I can use these questions to evoke curiosity for the cohort. I've not "networked" for a long while, so I'll visit the upcoming F'up nights. I think I'll do it in the way I do it best, by connecting with a handful of people, and listening deeply to their needs. Hopefully my squeaks will be heard. 

Here's the page if you're curious about this pattern.

  • What else is at play here? What are we overlooking? What else should we be considering?
  • Who else should be part of this conversation?
  • Whose perspective would help us avoid groupthink and inappropriate assumptions?
  • What kind of process would keep us from jumping to conclusions and landing prematurely in the wrong place?
  • Are there other ways to look at this that might produce important insights?
  • What could this situation also be?
  • What is possible now?

Day 83 - Tickle bud

I fully intended to write about the price of being a follower and the cost of being a leader. But I was putting lil dude to sleep and I just had to capture this moment in writing.

He goes to bed around 8 pm and usually stirs between 11 or 12. Our routine has been for me to feed him his 4or so ounces, bounce him on the inflatable yoga ball and then gingerly slip him into bed.

In between the bouncy ball and the rhythmic swaying is the moment I can find no equal for in life. You see, his right arm is usually tucked between my torso and my left arm. It allows me to have his head resting on my forearm, and my right arm and hand are supporting his butt and back. As he’s falling asleep, I can see his left hand twitching, it then finds it’s way to my nose and clasps it awkwardly, wrist and hand still twitching with no sense of controlled movement.

The part that I’m finding amusing every single time, is that the tucked away hand is also doing the same. Except imagine the gentlest feather unpredictably brushing against the most ticklish part of your body, so ticklish you didn’t think it possible. I’m trying to put this guy to sleep and the tickle torture is SO strong, but I have to force my self to stifle the laughter that’s roaring away in my belly and contorting my face. The shuddering I learned to mask by bouncing even more vigorously on the bouncy ball. It’s simultaneously the funniest and most frustrating moment I’ve experienced, and throughout my heart is filling with warmth.

I think these sleepy time tickle torture moments with lil bud were one of the first moments when I fully experienced that thing you hear parents tell you about children. It’s really the strangest joyful feeling.

Day 82 - Punishing workout

Lil dude is entering the phase where he's discovering his limbs. At first he was fascinated by his fingers, then realized they're attached to a hand so he opens and closes his hand. A day later he understood that his wrist can also twist up and down and he's currently occupied with that movement. When supported and on his legs, he likes to bend his knees and drop his butt to the floor and stand up again, fairly repetitively. I found myself wondering why I didn't have that kind of enthusiasm for physical activity.

Since we learned about his existence, I've gained just north of forty pounds. I managed to walk on a treadmill once, for an hour. Part of the challenge is that I'm responsible for the night shift. I'm also not exposed to sunlight due to the stifling heat. I also have the lights on at night which probably messes with my melatonin production. I wake up feeling far from rested, and definitely no where near interested to get my body in a state where it burns calories. The only sweat my body is capable of creating is directly related to the amount of silly dances and bench presses I do while entertaining him.

I also recall that endurance punishments were the norm at school when I was growing up. They all involved standing in the corner of the classroom. There was the hold your ear and do a million squats punishment. The arms spread wide for as long as you can punishment. A combination of the two if you were really bad. I remember preferring getting hit with a metal ruler, so my aversion to exercise probably runs deep.

I had no issue with competitive sports though, I'd run up and down a field so long as there was an objective. There it is! I need an objective, which is why binge watching downloaded episodes can keep me on a treadmill, I'm doing something.

The second challenge, outside of the current sleep schedule, is the ennui that sets in when I think of the food I have to make after working out. It's seriously dissuading me from continuing to write, that's how much the combination of those two things, working out and cooking, deplete my willpower. 

I think I need a gym friend, accountability works for me, I also don't want to talk to anyone at a gym. Arhghhhh. I need to give this more thought.


Day 81 - Screen Vampire

If you recall from yesterday's post, I intended to have two questions front of mind for myself. What am I asking myself to do? and What will it take to get there?

When I woke up this morning that wasn't the first thought I had. I did have an impulse to pick up my phone and tappity tap away at all the notifications. Two things went in my favour. The phone was charging far enough away that I'd have to get out from under the covers to pick it up. The second thing? I was overcome by lazyness.  I also felt hungry. As I got up to make food, I didn't know how the phone would help me satiate my hunger.  I walked out of the room and into the kitchen, and decided to finish breakfast without looking at a screen. 

I was surprised at the number of times the impulse to check my phone fired off in my head and how often my body wanted to follow through and go pick up the phone.  I went through a list of people, in my mind, who I receive messages from, and imagined possible requests or needs that awaited my response.

I'm not currently engaged on a project, nor is my time attached to a salary, so where is this sense of anxiety coming from, I literally have ownership over my time.  My sense of alarm at this point was high. I like to think I have a measure of self-control. I rarely react to stressful stimuli, if someone's in my face, in most cases, I can walk them off the ledge.  

I remember being parked on the right side of the road, when a muscle car sped through a roundabout, drifted and bounced off of my parked vehicle. The driver slammed his breaks a little too late and parked his car 15 meters ahead of ours. I jumped out of the vehicle, didn't see any damage, and looked up to see two guys angrily striding towards me. I remember being confused as to why they were angry, when it was clearly their fault for speeding through a roundabout. I saw that the driver of the vehicle looked ready to vocalize his misplaced anger. I took one step forward, spread my fingers wide on my right hand, palms facing him and shouted a forceful "STOP".

They were taken aback. I continued by asking if there was any damage on their vehicle, they shook their head no, so my follow up was "do you want to involve the police." They shook their heads no with even more gusto. So I continued, "ok you can leave now, good night". They turned around and sped off. 

Stepping away from the phone this morning, felt like the moment when I was clear and forcwful with those dudes, hence my sense of alarm. I'm not sure when I slipped in to a pattern where my phone became part of my waking impulse, superseding the need to drink or eat. I would like to think that part of the reason I didn't follow through with picking up the phone, was because the question "What am I asking myself to do?" was planted the night before. Also, lazyness, it's a powerful demotivator.

I'll continue to monitor my patterns surrounding sleep, and experiment with placing the phone to charge, on airplane mode, in a location that is far away from necessary morning routines. 

Are you addicted to the plasma?

Day 80 - Zetteling

I've been flirting with organizing for the past few years. I've struggled with organizing my thoughts the way a pack rat struggles to organize their home.

Imagine holding an item in your hand, you walk into a room with the intent of placing the item in it's rightful place. You're faced with an overwhelming sight, of things strewn about and the thought of organizing those items along with the item in your hand makes you fall into a tail spin of dejection. Defeated, you toss the item into a corner, and leave the room. That's been my mind for most of my life.

I say! no more! I've been trying to anyway, 3 years ago I borrowed 15 books on the topic of getting organized from the library. Among which were Marie Kondo's 'Spark Joy' Get things done and David Allen's 'Getting things Done'. I only remember these two because my wife was appreciative of their methods and has used some of them successfully. I on the other hand can only remember two things from the two books.

David's "If it's on your mind, your mind isn't clear" and Marie's "Dump everything out on the middle of the floor". Both of which I took literally and so started my obsession with writing everything on post-its and in bullet journals.

It felt good to get things out of my head. Not much else happened. Since then I've had small incremental wins in my journey to organize.

Firstly, 1password. When my wife told me to get it, I scoffed. I have a system I kept telling her. My system was using the post it notes on my Macbook's widget space. My wall of digital post-it passwords was not only useless, I kept throwing more passwords in there thinking I could figure out what account they were for. They're still there, to remind me how painful it was to store that many passwords in my head.

Next, email. I consolidated my main transactions into two accounts. I then created a multitude of emails as personas. One for news, another for gaming on the mobile phone, a third for social networks, a fourth for applications that require a login and a fifth as a throwaway for white papers and events.

Next, browsing. After installing a vpn, I keep firefox, chrome and safari handy for the separate accounts. Most helpful is a chrome extension called 'Tabs outliner'. Even if I close a tab, this extension creates a graveyard of links I had open at anytime, it works better than history because it's organized by threads. So I don't have closed tab Fomo anymore.

Next, notes. It's mainly thanks to 'Standard Notes' and the 'Listed' extension - the application I use to write which allows me to post this blog directly from the applicationto my domain with some wizardry I don't fully understand - That I've found the motivation to better organize my notes. I was previously using Nvalt, another great application for the Mac, but I didn't fully invest in it because I didn't have to be accountable.

Listed's 100 day writing challenge, was the thing the nudged me just enough to take up writing, which required I be somewhat organized. And I think I've found the missing piece of the puzzle to level up my organizing. My friend Lindsey asked a question that's going to be my organizational earworm.

What am I asking my self to do? What will it take to get there?
If you'd like to read about the 'Zettelkasten Method' or 'Personal knowledge management' the article below has a great step by step and summary.

How to create Idea Babies: A Knowledge Processing System for Marketers, Creators, and Knowledge Workers

Day 79 - The difference two weeks make

My wife was promoted to a more senior managerial role. After the celebration was over, she was left with the question new managers have to contend with. What kind of leader do I need to be?

Initially, the question was, 'what now?' After watching her struggle for a month, I started suggesting she find some help in the form of coaching. It took another two weeks for her to warm up to the idea. I wanted to understand if this resistance was unique to women in positions of power. So I ran a statistically inaccurate experiment on Instagram.

The questions were:

As a woman in a position of leadership, have you utilized the services of a leadership coach?

16 women and 2 men voted. My wife asserted that my assumption that women are more likely to struggle with taking on a coach was inaccurate, and that I should also ask the men.


67% have not utilized the services of a leadership coach.
33% have utilized the services of a leadership coach. 

As a man in a position of leadership, have you utilized the services of a leadership coach?

23 men voted.


83% have not utilized the services of a leadership coach.

17% have utilized the services of a leadership coach.

What's a leadership coach do?

At this point, I wasn't convinced everyone that voted understood the role of a leadership coach. So I had to ask. The responses varied but mostly said the same thing. You can find them at the bottom of the article if you're curious. My favourite response was this one.

A leadership coach "Throws light on to the shadows within your mind. Gives clarity to where doubt exists."

Who do you think utilizes the services of a leadership coach. Men or Women?

I decided to dig a little deeper. Considering my medium was instagram polls, I needed to strike a balance between engagement and annoyance and this was the final question. 8 people voted. Which means I need to prepare all the questions ahead of time.


71% believe it's women that utilize the services of a leadership coach.
29% believe it's men that utilize the services of a leadership coach.

When I shared the results with my wife, she flashed the toothiest grin and didn't bother to say 'I told you so'.

The number of women who voted 'yes' to utilizing the services of a leadership coach being greater than the number of men who voted 'yes' to utilizing the services of a leadership coach. Again, the sample size was small, and this is not statistically accurate. However, the belief that women are more likely to utilize leadership coaches was affirmed by the people who voted.

This sentiment is better understood if you consider that men are likely to have access to informal mentorship. What's called the "old boy's club" or old boy's network might not be as present an option for females in positions of leadership. I'd need more accurate data to draw better conclusions.

As for my wife, she'd noticed significant changes in her attitude, work outcomes, and decision making process in the two weeks that followed her first leadership coaching meeting. She mused that this type of service should be on offer, for all people who have her level of responsibilities. Would you allow yourself the privilege of utilizing a leadership coach? Why or why not?

"Asks you the right question"

"Helps and guides to form better leaders"

"Someone to support and guide people already in leadership, or wanting to be in a position of leadership"

"Those who can't lead, coach. (with exceptions)"

"Develop them into a better leader"

"Listen to them and ask the right questions"

"Mentorship or coaching is a huge responsibility
It’s about making sure that ur mentee is always challenged on their plans and progress it’s about facilitating the emotional journey and building the capacity of a mentee to always examine challenges to reveal more of the mentees capacity. I have tried different people but I felt not everyone would understand the value of it and give it full attention cause it’s not something a mentor could do when they are free it’s on the top of their agenda"

"Hehehe no, I have true leaders to coach me, surround ur self with ppl ahead of u so that does that job .. "

Day 78 - Excited validation

Design - is the creation of a plan or convention for the construction of an object or a system. Cambridge Dictionary.

There are 37 design disciplines on Wikipedia. In my youth I associated design with arts and crafts. My curiosity was blinkered by a fixed mindset that avoided things I could fail at. I did not yet understand that not trying something due to fear of failure, was in itself a silent form of failure.

What I now appreciate about design is present in the following quote,

"Engineers are not the only professional designers. Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones. The intellectual activity that produces material artifacts is no different fundamentally from the one that prescribes remedies for a sick patient or the one that devises a new sales plan for a company or a social welfare policy for a state. Design, so construed, is the core of all professional training; it is the principal mark that distinguishes the professions from the sciences. Schools of engineering, as well as schools of architecture, business, education, law, and medicine, are all centrally concerned with the process of design." Herbert A. Simon, The Sciences of the Artificial.

What got me excited was listening to a podcast that featured a lady who worked a 1000 jobs, and is now a service designer. She stated that most of the issues she's come across in organizations were rooted in a lack of understanding that the end to end employee experience is as important as the customer's experience. That there needs to be more exploration of the HR space through the prism of design. 

She's also Canadian, and lives in the D.C. area. It's just too good to be true!  The way I function best, is by linking goals I want to achieve to actions that impact a third party.  In this case, I'd intended to start writing my service design experiences for an upcoming project (inshallah). Coming across an established service designer, interested in pointing their design skills towards employee experiences and organizational design felt validating.  

I intend to further explore the work she's done in order to connect with her sometime next year. How I capture my learning points through writing over the coming months, will influence the ways in which I connect the work she is doing in the Organizational design space, with the work that my D.C. peoples are already doing. 

If you'd like to listen to the interview, the link is below.

[Service Design Show] New Ways To Spread and Scale Service Design / Jacquelyn Brioux / Episode #72 #serviceDesignShow 

http://podplayer.net/?id=68439220 via @PodcastAddict

Day 77 - Writing tips

I'm 75% of the way to the end of the 100 day challenge. So I'd like to create a list of things I have to be consistent about going forward. The purpose is to start practicing writing in a more intentional manner. 

Do Remove

  1. “a bit,” “a little,” “sort of,” “kind of,” “rather,” “quite,” “very,” “too,” “pretty much.”
  2. Dead sentences: If the reader can’t visualize the activity being performed
  3. Anything condescending. “This is so simple! yay for you!”
  4. Words like “surprisingly,” “predictably” and “of course,” overexplaining wastes space and time for a reader
  5. Appended prepositions: "This is the cat that the dog always runs after"  vs. "The dog always chases this cat."
  6. Qualifiers, they chip away at the trust readers have: "I run for a living" vs. "I mostly run for a living"

Do Try 

  1. "To Never forget where you left your reader in the previous paragraph and what they want to know next."
  2. To read everything aloud
  3. To ask what am I trying to say, and then ask did I say it?
  4. To write in the first person
  5. To Leave the reader with one thought, not 2 or three, just one.
  6. To make the first sentence interesting, then the second, and the third equally interesting
  7. To use active verbs
  8. To find a writer to imitate
  9. To use plain declarative sentences. Don't use commas. Each sentence should have one thought.

Adapted from Derek Sivers' notes on William Zinsser's book based on William Strunk Jr's and E.B. White's 'The Elements of Style'

Day 76 - Momentum

There's a coffee shop I frequent, it's been a year now that I've patronized them. On reflection, the people who work there have influenced my coffee journey.

My friend John took me there when I first got to this country, his excitement was contagious. My experience every time for the last year and a half since John bought me a coffee there has been consistent. So much so, when I travel, I try to check out coffee shops that locals enjoy.

My wife and I used to talk about opening up a philosophy cafe when we retired from the humdrum of corporate life. With tables themed by different philosophers, and an option for frequent patrons to be a coffeelosopher. Where they subscribe and forever have a personalized mug of their favourite philosopher on the wall behind the register, ready for them when they decide to have a coffer and stay for a few hours.

As research for this future shop, I used to keep a small user experience journal, of the coffee shops I visited, to better understand the things I notice about the place when I first get in. The smell, the people in there, what they're doing, how easy it is to find the menu, then read it, whether the baristas looked up, nodded or locked eyes for an instant, did they smile?

I'm not a coffee snob, I mix in milk and sugar. I am however, a connoisseur of experiences, and coffee shops are one of the most inexpensive experiences you can have at a physical retail space. What's wonderful about it is that it can last all of 5 mins, or a few hours. There aren't many spaces that allow for that kind of human interaction.

I made a habit of being friendly with the baristas, and they've been kind and welcoming in return. The manager, young, well trimmed and with a wide grin, shared the kind of footfall they get, which was an eye popping 30k customers a day. Location matters of course, but considering all they had was coffee, and some tiny baked bites, it's still remarkable.

The manager said the difference between their place and the average Seattle mermaid shop, is the quality of their coffee, and the quality of their service. It needs to be equally balanced. You can't have coffee good service without good coffee, and people are starting to understand what's good and what isn't, and they're voting with their feet.

It's also good business, with just a few stores, they were able to clear tens of millions in profit in one year, and their profitability is almost double the Seattle mermaid's. With the owner clearing 5% from each store, it has my barista friend convinced he's got to strike it alone. He's got the location, he's found some farmers, and I get to taste a special crop of coffee very soon.

The time I spent with this person reminded me of two quotes by Seth Godin.

"I think everything is made not born, and that makes people uncomfortable because it puts them on the hook and I truly believe it."

"Money is a story, once you have enough to buy beans and rice, and to take care of your family and other things, money is a story and you can tell yourself any story you want about money and it's better to tell yourself a story about money that you can happily live with"

I'd rather not identify this person any further, because their drive and vision was refreshing; all the more because they definitely did not have the privilege, and access to capital, that a lot of my readers do.

If you're a coffee connoisseur, remind me, and I'll let you know when their store opens up. It'll be in a magical place.

Day 75 - Coming up empty

I binged. It's been a while since I have. The Boys.

If you've seen it, you'll understand why nothing is forthcoming tonight. So I won't click email subscribers for this post. And you'll see why on the following day.

Day 74 - What's the opposite of a rant?

Today was a lovely day, it was also eid celebration, which meant it was ok to take time to just be with people and forget about work. So we did.

We decided to invite people over and host them for lunch. Since we got back we haven't had a chance to breathe. So after spending the better part of a month organizing our household, we were finally in shape to have people over.

It was just us 2 and lil dude, and he thoroughly enjoyed the new faces in the house. That was one of our motivations; As I'd previously mentioned, he grew a little tired of my limited repertoire of faces.

I realize now that a lot of the things I hear from people about married folks disappearing after they have a kid, or life being upended and your social life coming to halt is just that, hearsay.

Many a time, it comes from people yet to experience the very things they pontificate about so assuredly.

So let me break down the day. Folks started streaming in at 1 pm. After which we ordered food. We'd already made a small trip to the grocery store and picked up items we could have on the table for people to open up their appetite. We also used paper plates and cups, to cut down the time we'd spend cleaning.

I didn't facilitate. There were lulls. That was ok.

Towards the end of the afternoon, I affirmed our appreciation for the people attending. I let them know that we understand that today, people came to have a 'Simba' moment for lil dude. That we also enjoyed being able to host, and that lil dude didn't freak out and seemed to enjoy everyone equally.

We were also hopeful to continue hosting in the future. Because we feel that it's important for lil dude to be surrounded with people we respect and love.

As lil dude grows, and as demands on us as parents possibly increase, I'll remember this day fondly, as proof of what's possible.

Day 73 - Fight or flight

I was wondering this morning when it develops in children. When I'm clowning around with lil dude, I've yet to understand the patterns of what scares him or what excites him.

Exaggerated faces seem to do the trick until he's 'processed' them so to speak. I'll need to keep better track of when he's fully engaged and when he's not. Whether it's before or after he's fed, or before or after his nap.

It takes 2 years for the amygdala to form, basically, he needs a lot of cuddles, and cues of reassurance from the people around him. Living in an area free of stressors or situations that would contribute to our stress levels resulting in faces that cue panic or fear are what we need to be wary of.

I lost a bunch of articles opened I searched for in ghost mode so I won't be able to articulate further.

One thing I keep catching myself doing is breathing in a shallow manner, and the research on infant brain development and our observations show that these lil people are sponges, constantly observing and emulating. So I'll have to be more mindful about practicing my breathing in front of lil dude more often.

Day 72 - Chief Development Officer (CDO)

My wife and I decided early on that she'd be in charge of input, and I'd be in charge of output when it came to lil dude. As he's grown, I've also enjoyed the role of CDO.

We've found that fully engaging him in play gets him to drink more, and to nap longer. He's also reaching a stage where he's tiring of the same toys. A water bottle fascinated him enough today to cause him consternation when he couldn't grasp it with his limited reach.

We also were able to take him out twice. This is an important development because our walls are plain and the curtains constantly drawn due to the extreme amount of sun that filters in. We realised today that he may have actually gotten an unhealthy dose of sun due to the location of the changing table. It seems the two layers of thick curtain aren't enough to stave off indirect sunlight and UV rays.

So taking him out to a mall allows him to receive another form of stimulation, but at the risk of exposing him to airborne illnesses. We live in a global hub, and this particular mall gets people bused in directly from the airport, but we have to take our chances or he'll go a bit stir crazy looking at just our two faces.

He's already caught on to the existence of voices emanating from black rectangles. Mainly an apple watch and my phone I keep handy to photograph him.

Back to CDO, so far duties include:

  • Diligently directing tummy time
  • Reciting numbers 1 through 5 in a slow and deliberate manner
  • Ensuring nap time quotas are met
  • Allowing for bouncy chair time to facilitate for the processing functions of the intestinal tract
  • Coordinating music and dance extravaganzas
  • Executing the disappearing / reappearing algorithm 

I'm sure there are a few I'm missing. Let me know what else is age appropriate for an almost 5 month old.

Day 71 - Define accessible

Early in my UX journey I'd attended a free seminar on design and usability. The lecturer was Canadian, and happened to be a neighbour; relative to where we were then which was Doha,Qatar.

At the end of the lecture I asked him what he thought about this as a career, and he said it'd be the smartest thing to invest my time in. In the province of Ontario, there was a court case against the government by a lady who couldn't navigate their websites well enough to request a service. So all government entities now must ensure that their websites are accessible.

He said the accessibility law requires all other organizations ensure their digital products are accessible by 2025 under penalty of law. Which meant that there was a good chunk of change to be made by consulting for organizations that need to ensure their websites are accessible. The U.S. has a similar requirement, titled section 508, but it only applies to government entities.

I recall this because there was an interesting case in the news recently. Dominoes pizza is trying to stop a run on it by people who claim it is not abiding by the American Disabilities Act, when it comes to their digital assets.

Domino’s points to the past for evidence of the fact that the ADA never required companies to ensure a disability-friendly alternative to every aspect of its services, explaining:
Since before the advent of the Internet, department stores have sent customers mail-order catalogues … Companies have also deployed door-to-door salesmen and maintained telephone hotlines as additional ways for customers to place orders without having to visit their physical locations. Those methods parallel today’s websites and mobile apps. Yet, under the Ninth Circuit’s view, these longstanding methods would have violated [the ADA] unless the mail-order catalogues were available in Braille, the door-to-door salesmen knew American Sign Language, and the telephone hotlines were equipped for the hearing-impaired.”

It's better if you read it, I can't summarize it well enough.

But I find it interesting that Ontario foresaw this issue and gave companies sufficient time to ensure their digital assets were accessible.

Time will tell what will happen south of the border and if there'll be enough talented usability folks around to deal with this challenge, maybe foreign companies can fill the gap? 

Day 70 - What has helped you arrive at this understanding?

When last we left my pursuit of purpose, I'd had a realization that I've been working towards my purpose, continuously clarifying it as I learn by surrounding myself with people who either act on theirs, actively pursue it, or are aware of their need to refine it.

When I was young, I wanted to be a large vehicle operator, I think I had one of those yellow earth moving Tonka trucks. Once I saw how slow they were, I quickly relented and opted to become an airplane pilot. When I learned eyesight is a qualifier, I quickly gave that up as well and decided to become a captain of the biggest ship there was. Soon after I saw a horror movie set on a boat that capsizes and the captain, apparently honour-bound, stays to die on the boat. I didn't like that. I found it stupid, and wasteful.

The captain couldn't escape the role. In hindsight, as a child, I didn't respect someone not choosing to shed the shackles of a role, for something more important, their life.

I'm not sure what I'll do with lil dude so that he doesn't get beat down by the same system I was. Because overtime, I became the captain. Shackling my identity, and my life, to a career role. That was my paradigm for a time, and I've learned to look beyond it. To find purpose in the smallest personal and professional interactions I have with people.

I'm not always at 100% with everyone. But I try to be with myself. Because that plays a large role in how I experience life, family, friends and others.

Day 69 - I Know Someone

I know someone with a fascinating story, it's not very simple to capture in one post, but that's all the time they'd have to read it.

Their story doesn't have a beginning, or a middle yet but this person has since made concrete contributions to their life through effort, determination, and dedication. In each situation they find themselves in, they persevere, get recognized, and are lauded for their presence and their drive.

But, crucially, before any of this recognition occurs, they experience a torrent of nagging self-doubt, crippling anxiety, and a fair share of sleepless nights.

If there's ever a bright spot that shines through the darkness in their grey matter, it is short-lived.

Now that they're... the energy they once had to commit to the darkness, isn't as available.

But because the darkness, the self-criticism, the nagging crippling anxiety, has fed for so long; what could once be compartmentalized is not. The walls are broken, the darkness over running life. Their systems simultaneously in fight and flight.

If I could tell them one thing.

I would tell them they are whole. I would tell them they are whole and loved, that mistakes are possible, even if they aren't predictable, that they won't be shunned for making them, that their self-worth will not disintegrate, that they won't be out on the street, and even if they were. They are loved.

So love yourself.

Day 68 - How would you describe

If you winced a little, you've been to way too many interviews. Don't worry, this little question missile isn't directed at you. I'll be introspecting here for an upcoming chat I'll need to be having.

The topic? Purpose. What is my sense of purpose. Currently.

Sigh, I'd love to say it's being a parent, or changing the world of work, or anything profound yet relatable really. And I'd love to say these things because then the answer is simple. It's contained. It's easily understood even if difficult to pursue. 

What I can elaborate on however, is my pursuit of purpose. I think purpose can be accidental, for example, you've come across stories of people who had someone near and dear suffer a fatal illness, and finding a cure becomes that person's purpose.

Purpose can be given by one's culture at large (joining the army), or one's culture at home ("I come from a long line of X profession"). Purpose can be recognized in hindsight, like a life well lived. 

In my case, my purpose is unfolding, and yes it involves growth, you can't blame me if that's still on my mind, I only wrote about it yesterday. Also the gif up there was just as helpful in keeping those words top of mind. 

If memory serves me correctly, it's been 7 years since I first entered the organization that lit the fire that had me recovering from the human resource profession. I've spent the past 4 years absorbing, experimenting and redefining the knowledge I want more of, and the things I want less of. 

In a sense, I've been chiseling away at the marble that holds my purpose, what shape it'll take 7 years from now, I can't say. But this is an important realization, and I need to celebrate it, make it real, in order to...lil dude is chirping, the thought is gone. Dad life!

Day 67 - Evolutionary Organizations

Some friends are coming together to learn then practice what they can in the context of new work / evolutionary organizations.

I won't define either term. It's currently beyond me, and it's ever evolving. I feel like every time I turn my head it's 'evolved'. So I'll speak to what isn't measured. Which is feeling.

What does an "evolutionary organization" feel like?

First, I need to better understand the terms, I feel like my English has devolved of late, as I find myself using words with lil dude that I then try to simplify further and further until the concept of a word starts to hurt my head.

Here are some copy pasted definitions. Yay Internet!

According to Merriam-Webster:

Definition of evolution
1a : descent with modification from preexisting species : cumulative inherited change in a population of organisms through time leading to the appearance of new forms : the process by which new species or populations of living things develop from preexisting forms through successive generations. Mmmmm, are organizations alive? I guess they're as alive as the mind flayer from Stranger Things. Taking things in nature, horrifically disassembling them, and uniformly repurposing them for it's own needs.

2a : a process of change in a certain direction : UNFOLDING. This one makes sense, I'll take it.

c(1) : a process of continuous change from a lower, simpler, or worse to a higher, more complex, or better state : GROWTH. This is what I think most people strive for. I'll take it.
(2) : a process of gradual and relatively peaceful social, political, and economic advance. Sure, that makes sense.

And now Organizations

Definition of organization (Entry 1 of 2)
1a : the act or process of organizing or of being organized. Straightforward.

b : the condition or manner of being organized
a group with a high degree of organization.
Don't see a large difference between 'a' and 'b', but ok.

charitable organizations
b : an administrative and functional structure (such as a business or a political party). This is probably what most people understand organizations to be.

Definition of organization (Entry 2 of 2)
: characterized by complete conformity to the standards and requirements of an organization, an organization man. Sounds like an outcome of being a part of organizations. ok.

So put it all together and we have.

UNFOLDING GROWTH through a process of gradual and relatively peaceful social, political, and economic advance utilizing an administrative and functional structure.

The evolution part is rockin', but the organization part just doesn't seem to jive and falls flat. Right?

Some cursory digging and I learn the word organization to have the meaning 'system or establishment' as early as 1873, prior to that, in medieval English, it just meant "an act of organizing".

What am I getting at. I'm not sure, it could be nothing. And because I've not spent enough time digging, I'm going back to feelings. 

I feel like belonging to something that leads to unfolding growth, not something that is an administrative and functional structure.  I feel like being part of a process of continous change that serves and not just being part of a system or establishment. I feel like surrounding myself with people that ask questions, good questions, and then go and find answers, and then tell each other what went well and what didn't. I'd love it if that process led to a gradual relatively peaceful social, political, and economic advance. I want there to be recognition, that time is finite, life is to be lived, and if what I work on is not complete in my lifetime, then it continues in someone else's.  So if I can share something that will speed up your work. I will. 

What do you feel like surrounding yourself with?

Day 66 - I count a buddy

Image by @arabicwords_0

Friends are important, they make you feel warm and fuzzy, they ground you in experiences that formed a part of your psychological make up, they temporarily alleviate any concerns you may have of the lonely nature of our short existence. 

But like most things, friends are flawed, which is why you most probably have groups of friends which rarely intersect. Except for a wedding or two. One thing friends are not really great at, is giving advice. For one, the first iteration is usually related to advice they wish they could act on, and so, you become their petri-dish. For second (yes I can say that), for your relationship to survive, you can’t nag them if they don’t follow through.

My friend once shared that there are organizations that pair people on projects, usually a designer with a strategist, and they become joined at the hip to an extent. Thinking through client challenges together, a smart wall to bounce things off of.

At LeadIN, people are paired up according to proximal geography, complementary strengths, and incantations. When I experienced LeadIN, I was able to connect with most of the attendees, in the capacity of an accountability buddy. We had something I don’t have with most friends. A purpose.

We’d connect each week, either at a park, or over the phone, and talk through our goals, what we did to work towards them, what worked, and what didn’t. I have zero friends that’d be interested in hearing what I had to say about experiments I held to increase my emotional awareness or how I took note of my energy levels that week.

Friends are great, but I think we should all hope to cultivate some friends into accountabuddies. One for each Ikigai quadrant perhaps? The next time a friend brings up the same mistake you’ve noted them make for the 20th time in 5 years. Be their accountabuddy. They’ll treasure you for moving them forward past their b.s.

Day 65 - Bully for you.!?

Add an exclamation mark and that phrase becomes positive, sound it out while chewing a bagel and it becomes biting sarcasm.

Here's a scenario: You've struck gold, literally.

You've promised your client, that you'll save them buckets of gold, because you know the smartest people, and they'll fix the problems your client has. Your fee? A small percentage of the gold you'll save them.

Your client, has a mandate, their business is big, it's grown rapidly, the spend on projects that will keep them relevant is high. They need an outsider's perspective. They trust you. Why? Because you've saved others money before, you've got the facts and figures to prove it. Hundreds of millions of gold buckets saved for a client here, a client there, a client everywhere. Bully for you!

Your people are sat with the client, whose people didn't get the memo that your people are the smartest, that they're here to save you buckets of gold. There's bad blood between them, things aren't going as well as they should, you shuffle your smart people in, out, in, out...but you deliver the savings you promised. You tell the client, that the people in that business unit there is worth a few hundred buckets of gold, and that division there is worth a few thousand, and they can all be replaced with one magical computer system; which you'll have to charge for, but it's worth the buckets you'll save.

The client, impressed by your reasoning, and the buckets you've just saved, wants this thing yesterday, so you bring even more smart people, buckets and buckets worth of smart people. Your client isn't sure what they're all there for; remember the savings! You remind your client, it takes smart people to save money! You add.

Months later, and your smart people are 'managing' a bucketful of I.T. people to put in place the magical computer system. You client is wondering why there are people on top of people on top of the actual people putting in place the magical computer system. Your client wants meetings, the meetings need meetings, and your smart people are now in all the meetings, except for the I.T. people, they're still on the first sketch of the magical computer system. A year later, the I.T. people will be informed of the changes that were requested 6 months back.

Your golden goose is losing it's patience, they want progress, but wait! You have something that'll guarantee your client have total transparency over the process. Your people will work alongside their people this time, and they'll implement things after two weeks. Wow! That's so quick! You client is amazed at this new way of working, what do you call it?

It's proprietary you say, and you let them know only your smart people can do things the Hermes way. That other ones are just copies of Hermes, whether it's Mercury, Zoran, or Horus.

A year passes, and the A.I. edition of the magical computer system is yet to come online, your smart people are fleeing the client offices, and word has spread among the smart people that you throw people under the bucket of gold, whenever the client throws a tantrum. And so you've thrived, client after client, exchanging buckets of gold for shallow graves.

Time is friend to no one, you're nearing a hundred years, the tales you told, to get the work, the lies about the buckets of gold you saved, are catching up with you. The loss in production, the loss of value, the clients you promised prosperity, no longer active or at death's doorstep. You're going to be found out, your half-truths, whether they're the latest fad in diversity, or the coolest trick in thinking, will not keep you from swallowing your own bitter pill. So bully for you dear management consultancies. Bully. For. You.