Mojo's Dojo // 100 days 🍡


Writing to learn, learning to write. With practice comes clarity of purpose. #100days

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Day 143 - Fame and Frames

I heard some piercing shrieks, that just kept getting louder, and I was worried they'd wake lil dude. At first, I thought it was an overzealous spin cycle instructor, it is after all fitness month, and the city is peppered with free outdoor activities encouraging a healthy lifestyle.

Turns out there was a free Mariah Carey concert outside my balcony. I learned about it through social media, when I noticed a number of people I know, who have never met, were hanging out in the same area. Scrolling through their uploads, I recognized the shriek I'd heard earlier. I then remembered some random documentary that mentioned something about Mariah Carey being one of the few who can generate that ear piercing shriek.

I opened the balcony, and sure enough, there was the concert, is the concert I should say. The balcony door is closed now as I type, but the noise filters in.

Getting excited about celebrity, or famous individuals never appealed to me growing up. I thought something was wrong with me, not being capable of fully participating in a culture that pushed friends and acquaintances alike to consume materials and celebrity. I watched people consume, reject, and counter consume brands, and ideologies alike.

I wonder how much of this for me was because my identity was rooted. It's something I need to explore and take apart. I'd like to be able to create a space for lil dude to grow strong psychologically, physically, and spiritually. I'd like that to be in spite of the challenges we'll face as individuals, as parents, as a couple. So that what may affect him, does not effect him negatively.

Day 142 - Wonder

Lil dude had his first birthday invites this weekend, two in a row.

Watching him interact with other babies is interesting. A few months ago, he was content to sit in place, not move much, until we took him through some concerted development efforts. His brain has vested a lot of energy in to his muscles, and now I can hardly keep him occupied with books I read. I need to vary my language and tone to get his attention. His physical environment has grown with him, and the living room has become his play location. Once he explored it's corners, he's tried to go further afield, and explore the areas that we tend to carry him to, for example the kitchen where he watches us heat his milk and ready his food.

We tend to encourage him to grab our faces, or items on the floor in his living room kingdom, if it's dangerous we'll do some sleight of hand and replace it with something else that's shiny. One of the birthdays was at a kids playground, we took him to a ball pit and he didn't understand where or what he was experiencing. It's come at a time where we felt that our make shift living room play area was reaching it's limit. He tried to make friends by grabbing at the other children, but they were not as excited by his overtures. Luckily, my sister will be arriving in the coming weeks, so he can practice being social with his cousin.

Day 141 - Via character?

Have you used the via character test?
The IS group is starting to explore it. I'd placed it in my bookmarks a few times, but never got a round to it. The coming week's prompts will be strengths based, and they recommended we complete the character test.

1: Kindness
Doing favours and good deeds for others; helping them; taking care of them.

2: Creativity
Thinking of novel and productive ways to conceptualize and do things; includes artistic achievement but is not limited to it.

3: Prudence
Being careful about one's choices; not taking undue risks; not saying or doing things that might later be regretted.

4: Curiosity
Taking an interest in ongoing experience for its own sake; finding subjects and topics fascinating; exploring and discovering.

5: Fairness
Treating all people the same according to notions of fairness and justice; not letting feelings bias decisions about others; giving everyone a fair chance.

6: Social intelligence
Being aware of the motives/feelings of others and oneself; knowing what to do to fit into different social situations; knowing what makes other people tick.

7: Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence
Noticing and appreciating beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in various domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience.

8: Forgiveness
Forgiving those who have done wrong; accepting others’ shortcomings; giving people
a second chance; not being vengeful.

9: Teamwork
Working well as a member of a group or team; being loyal to the group; doing one's share.

10: Love of learning
Mastering new skills, topics, and bodies of knowledge, whether on one's own or formally; related to the strength of curiosity but goes beyond it to describe the tendency to add systematically to what one knows.

Day 140 - Frame yourself

Using models and frameworks for businesses and organizations is a given

Thinking of ones life as a cycle, with themes and plans, with a narrative arc for oneself is not unheard of but rare.

We tend to enjoy characters that have depth, that strive to grow, we enjoy seeing their journey unfold. We know the impact of writing your own obituary. Why can't we acknowledge that we would benefit from a similar exercise, one that would chart our life similar to a story book.

What kind of story character do we want to become, what would be the arc of our existence like? How many life experiences would we need, before we could begin conceptualizing this as a possibility.

For instance, I'd after much pain set out to change my career, became open to exploring, to being curious, to trying to understand the world that could be, as much as the world that is. Three years have passed, and I've achieved an image of what I set out to do. Knowing what I know now, I could chart the coming 7 years, after taking some considered time to reflect on the patterns in my life.

So really, my question to myself is, how might I frame my story that I'd like to unfold over the coming 7 years.

Day 139 - We get there

Folks, we made it, two years later in Dubai and the first LeadIN cohort is on it's way.

One of the participants, had found my creative bunch card, the one featured on Instagram. We'd made it way back when I first got here. For the field that asks "I'm working on" I'd stated that I was establishing a gym for leadership. Unbeknownst to the LeadIN participant, I was referring to LeadIN, they were excited that my card stated something that resonated with their mission.

I found it ironic, that two years on from when I'd posted that card, this person had already applied to LeadIN, and then found my card. I'm aware that I'm not clearly communicating this bit of serendipity.

Suffice to say, the kick-off went well. Some of the people were aware of each other, some were bunchies, some knew they were bunchies, others didn't. Some were new, but by the end of the experience, they were all a part of the new cohort.

I think they need a name, maybe I'll ask them half way through the cohort what name they'd like to use to refer to themselves. I've found that bunchie as a moniker caught on for people, I'd like to see if something similar could evolve from this cohort.

I also felt strongly the challenge of organizing a cohort single-handed. I had a hard go of it trying to facilitate, and imparting aspects of the experience to look forward to.

Let talk about what worked well.

I used the tried and tested method of connect cards, however, I kept people outside of the space we were using, instructed them to come half an hour early, then let them roam around, grabbing drinks, coffee, etc, and instructed them to come in at 6.30. Having an open space that allowed for this was helpful, they were able to relax, take a minute while I setup the room.

When they entered the room, they saw two boxes, a small one for those who were paying the commitment fee in cash, and a bigger box to put all their electronics in. I let them know that they've got until 6.30 before the box is closed with their electronics remaining inside for the remainder of our time together. Immediately, there was a flurry of thumbs swiping at screens, hurriedly completing whatever emails they needed to complete, and when the minute struck 6.30 all were quiet.

I asked people to pair up and handed out the connect cards, the space had cushioned seating and sofas and was comfortable, which added to the atmosphere. As pairs of people entered I invited them to deposit their electronics, handed them a connect card, and kept rotating cards until the 10 participants were all inside.

I then invited them all into a circle, reduced the lights, had them engage in a breathing and meditation exercise for 5 minutes, to shed the weight of the world and to center themselves in this space we were in. I then led them out of the room (electronics stayed behind), into the outdoors to get some fresh air, away from the lights and under the sky, I had them introduce one other person, with the interesting fact they appreciated the most.

With names and connecting moments aside, the next prompt, was to take a minute and think through what change they'd like to see in themselves and in the world. I let them know that the answer doesn't need to be final, they'll be iterating on it. I led them on a 10 minute walk, through which I would stop every 2 mins and request they switch with someone. In that manner they got to iterate their intention for change, and hear another persons' aspirational change.

I led them back to the space, still in a circle, I asked them the next question, which was their intention for LeadIN. I encouraged them to support each other, and one participant became the "You can do it!" voice. I tried my best to hear what they had to say, acknowledge it by phrasing it in the words I understood and invited others to reflect briefly or support the individual. I could have done better in encouraging them to create their own ritual here, something to explore for next time, because moments like these are where group cohesiveness could start to take root and form identity.

Meanwhile, I ran out of the space, and tried to find the food delivery, ran back to the space to find them finishing their sharing round. So I directed them to the guiding principles and I asked what they noticed after reading it. I reaffirmed what I heard by saying that I witnessed them actively behave in ways that brought those principles to life.

I was proud of the above interactions I created, where the experience could have been stronger was in talking about LeadIN. I spoke fast, really fast, the energy was spent, the food was late, I rushed through it, emphasized that they'll experience it over the coming weeks, that the hardest part for me was bringing them together, but like they'd acknowledged, what they put in is what they'll get out of it. I reiterated that they'll have access to everything, and are encouraged to connect with anyone in the cohort. I'd shared the farmer's market meetups and the multi buddy systems that often occur. That this experience is for them to craft, that my only ask is to not talk about work, I was a bit mental about that point, and kept interjecting into conversations I felt were heading in the work direction.

Were people excited, yes, were they hungry yes, one thing that worked really well, was that I crowded them into a small space when it was time to eat. It was so small I couldn't get in, the 10 fit perfectly into the space. I left them be for awhile to chat with their buddies and each other.

I've sent out the notifications, the calendar invites, and now I'll wait for people to show up next week.

Surprisingly, the whatsapp group is super quiet. We'll see what happens. Though it's a good start, knowing what I know about the region, I'm not sure how much individual follow up I'll need to do. Nor do I think I should create an expectation, for constant follow up. I'll need to strike a balance of sorts, hopefully my patience extends to believing people will be self motivating.

Day 138 - IS: What could you simplify?


created_at: 2019-10-15 19:08:05


The IS coach writes 

I am preoccupied by the question of how to live with greater simplicity in complex times. I am currently looking at my life to find aspects I could simplify either through saying no, abandoning, streamlining, or limiting. Do any of you find yourselves drawn to simplifying? Have you had any success? Do you have any plans for simplifying?

Personally, I would like to simplify the ways in which I acknowledge the work I’ve done on, with, and for myself. I found old notebooks and somehow I need to synthesize the thoughts I captured in them and possibly digitize them, or catalogue them.

Some of the things I set out to do I’ve achieved, and I’m not sure how to simplify this.

Is this why people created awards for finite goals? What’s the equivalent for oneself?

Day 137 - IS: Talking to strangers

I have the habit of avoiding the ‘where are you from’ and ‘what do you do’ conversation with cab drivers.

On my way to Creative Mornings yesterday, after some pleasantries, I asked him, ‘what’s new?’

He looked at me through the rearview with a puzzled look, and asked incredulously ‘what do you mean what’s new?’

I didn’t have a quick enough response, thrown off by his question, he saw my confusion, and continued ‘everything is new, today is new, you are new, this conversation is new!’

I couldn’t help but laugh, he instantly brightened my mood, and that slight semantic shift that he enabled, I carried to creative morning, as I facilitate the icebreakers, I shared the story, and I watched his thought spread amongst the faces that morning. I later facilitated a learning cohort in the evening, and told his story, and it had that same effect.

Through our conversation, I tried to ascertain whether he had any practice of positive affirmations. From what I could discern, he just had it in his heart, lived it every moment he drove that cab, and for anyone familiar with the tribulations of taxi drivers here, you’ll understand how powerful that is.

Day 136 - The smart people

Folks, reading is so crucial. In the past two weeks I've not read (or audio-booked) as much as I had in September. I'm noticing the value reading had in contributing to the synthesis of my thoughts. I've been saving articles of interest in a bookmark folder labelled 'articles'. The reading debt I've accumulated is increasing. I think I need to set a window of time to read through the links I've saved.

The issue is, I've also accumulated interview debt. I've been conducting a lot of stakeholder interviews solo, as a result I've ended up with hours of audio that needs to be transcribed so I can garner insights from my interactions with the folks I've interviewed.

Parsing through the data alone has been challenging, but with some rewards. I've noticed that in the interviews that involved walking and other members of our team, a lot of interview best practices are set aside. A lot the time the interviewees are interrupted, it becomes a popcorn style conversation, with thoughts being finished for the interviewee.

Being able to go through the recordings, allows me to hear things that were missed in the moments that everyone was trying to make themselves heard.

I'm looking forward to this first phase ending, hopefully we can reassess the way our team approaches discovery for future phases.

Day 135 - Nocrastination

I had a chat with my wife about the procrastination article in the context of our physical wellness.

One of the points raised in the article, the concept of front-loading the emotional pain, resonated with us. Through this lens, it was easy to understand our continued failure to push ourselves to act on the need for physical health. Imagine suffering through the emotions associated with failing to do the right thing, now imagine compounding those emotions by front-loading the feeling of not prioritizing your health for the coming year. That tends to stop us in our tracks. We shrink back to seeking security, certainty, predictability, which is a human, and an ever present habit.

We agreed that we do better when physical activity is social, for her, it's with a coach, for me it's group sports, or activities. I also came across an old notebook, where I declared that I'd be at peak physical health by March of 2017. Though I didn't achieve that goal, I did over time allay my fear of exercise I had due to suffering from a herniated disk. In 2017/2018, I started physiotherapy, and 'fixed' most of the upper body challenges I had. I felt better, and so, didn't continue investing in the habits that allowed for these gains. I think recognizing past progress, current impediments, and aligning with my wife for future needs will allow me to better advance my goal.

For the moment, the things I will say 'no' to this week are:

  • Bubble Tea at the end of the week
  • Desserts that constitute more than 2 ingredients

The things I will say 'yes' to this week are:

  • Completing at least 1.5L of water each day.
  • Sleeping by 10 p.m. each night

Day 134 - Procrastination

"...procrastination is about emotions, not productivity"

It's not about self-control. 

Day 133 - IS: Grattitude

How does gratitude fit in your life?

The community question today related to existing practices, and whether we're naturally grateful. Does it come easy to you? 

One member responded that they practice gratitude during specific activities. What I appreciate about this is that it becomes a manageable habit. If there are two things you consistently do, and you remind yourself to be grateful before, during, or after these two activities.  Then it becomes a habit worth commending yourself for. To make it stick, this member lists 3 things they're grateful for. 

I don’t know if it’s the same gratitude mentioned above, but an islamic iteration of it was drilled in to me from young age. Two formulas for gratitude that come to mind and their super rough translations

ُالحمد لله على نعمه - Thank god for all the blessings (the word niima can mean a lot of things)

الحمد لله على كل حال - Thank god in any caseThese formulas are usually accompanied by verses for example

“Fa inna ma’al ‘usri yusra”

“Inna ma’al ‘ussri yusra”

“Then indeed with every difficulty there is ease, indeed with every difficulty there is ease”

I think as a result of my upbringing, and the practice of reflecting on experiences good or bad, as being a part of life, gratitude, patience, and resilience has been more accessible to me, than say my wife, who had a different childhood growing up in Maryland. With our child now in this world, her path to gratitude has widened significantly. Kids are a wonder that way. 

Day 132 - IS: Farent

Here's an interesting prompt.

How might friendship be an added dimension to nurture and deepen parent-child or parent-teacher relationships?
  • Open
  • Curious
  • Caring
  • Fun-loving
  • Always willing to have a laugh together
  • Can count on each other
  • Want to do cool things with each other
  • Accepting of the whole person (even with his/her eccentricities)

I think the only context I’ve heard friendship in for parents, is in a piece of advice my father gave me in my 20s. He said something to the effect of “A man can have 3 types of offspring. He can have a friend, a brother, or the cause of his death”

He explained that having a friend was to have a child as early as possible in your life, for instance, if they’re 20 and you’re 40, though there is a significant age gap, you’d still be somewhat able to understand each other the way friends would.

A brother, would be someone you’d physically look like, and could pass as a sibling for.

The cause of your death, would be a child you’d have to provide for, when you’re in the later stages of your life.

Considering the life expectancy for the generation my father grew up in, this assessment of his isn’t a strange one.

I also witnessed him age because he willed it. By that I mean, for as long as I've been an adult, his mantra has been "I'm old, I can't do X, I'm old, It's not for me". 

I think it's one of the things that allowed me to start paying attention to my self-talk. Because I'd seen the impact it had on him. 

How will you deepen the friendship between you and your children?

Day 131 - IS:What is the main thing that comes between you and wellbeing?

Interstory prompts are reflections that are inspired by a positive psychology community. In a nutshell, you can get coaching and support from a community coach, and all of the members (including yours truly), and you get daily prompts to reflect on. The above  is one of them. I'll identify them in the header as 'IS:' so that the people behind this wonderful effort are credited for the work they do.  If you'd like to learn more. Visit Interstory

My wife and I are both obligers. We've had a challenging go of reducing our sugar and bread consumption, which we noticed impacts our mood. We've had some success by reducing sugar and bread accessible in the household, and reducing the use of food delivery apps in the evening.

The one thing we need to do better at prioritizing is our physical health. Conceptually, we understand that incremental amounts of exercise will help us develop the habit. Our work environments are flexible, which professionally is great, but that means we end up working (though we enjoy the work) at the expense of time for exercise. We think this is hindering the building of an exercise habit.

The only flexible time we have, that is consistent, is our mornings. Our child was recently sleep trained and started averaging longer evening sleep. So our mornings consistently start at around 6 am. If we can figure out a routine that has us alternating morning workouts, I think we could slowly build the habit.

One of the things that would create this successful outcome, of having energy in the morning, is sleeping earlier.  Because our work requires a considerable amount of human interaction, we  tend to extend our evenings by spending some 'alone' time on our screens, catching up on nothing of consequence. 

One measure of success then, is to put our phones on airplane mode, by 9 pm. Leave them charging in the living room, and to retire earlier to bed. 

Day 130 - Service design flyer

Service design for digital transformation

Digital transformation projects are promises made to your customers that services will be fast, efficient and easy to use; Service design is the language we utilize to fulfil that promise. Through an iterative, human-centred process of empathy based research, an emphasis on iteration and prototyping, we optimize the way your service interacts with customers, employees, and businesses.

Where most seek security, certainty, and predictability, we embrace the uncertain, the unpleasant, and actively search for discomfort.

Our design research uncovers what your customers hope to achieve, how they really interact with, and the ways in which they achieve their needs when utilizing your services.

Our team specializes in iterating and prototyping, with you, the future state of your meaningful change to digitally enabled services. We prioritize organizational learning and enable your team to LEARN, THINK and DO service design alongside us.

Would you hire these people?

Day 129 - The long days

They're a blur, especially when there's a headache lurking in the shadows. I decided to leave early from work, and ended up playing with lil dude for what felt like the rest of the day. By the time I realised it, the day was over. The time I spent away from home in the evening, was consumed by the recording I needed to complete. I ended up missing one of the calls.

I know I can reorganize my time better, and that part of the lack of energy relates to the type of food I consume, and the fact that sugar, though minimized, is still active in my system. This coupled with a really bad mattress, makes for poor sleep and rest. I also have neglected the intake of Vitamin D, and placebo or not, it could be affecting my mood.

The weather is getting better, the project is moving as planned. I have a high debt load of interviews to complete transcribing. I'd indicated my preference to the team for two person research visits. I've had to ask questions and take notes. Hence the research debt I've accumulated. Ideally I'd have a second researcher, and they'd be a second brain. Unfortunately, I can't yet complain to the team, because I need to complete transcribing the interviews for the group to be able to draw insights from the interview results.

Day 128 - Towers torn

A sleepless fall ‘mongst towers tall.

A crass lizard tailed, skulks through the halls.

Bearded in grey and bespectacled in white.

A thin, bent frame, is all that remains.

Of it’s past and future might.

Day 127 - Podcast Mena

I met the voice of Elmo in Arabic. he didn't introduce himself in that way. I'd arrived early to the space where the podcast forum was being held, hoping to get some work done.

I realized I was being unrealistic, I'd never be able to get work done, when the opportunity to interact with new people, folks I might never see gathered for the same reason, for a short amount of time. I ended up sharing that I was hiding in this room, because I needed to shore up a bit of courage before I could experience the space and the people arriving. He admitted that his experience of extroversion and introversion was highly reliant on the environments he found himself in. Depending on the context, he'd either be a firecracker or wall flower. We then took the time to appreciate the moment we just shared, and how it didn't tax our people meeting batteries.

Things I learned:

  • Decide if you want to make money, then create content in a way that allows people to find you, and pay you. If you don't want to make money, that's also cool. Just decide.
  • If you have 10 listeners, and you still enjoy podcasting, you've made it. 

Check out @mepodcastforum for a window into the arab world of podcasting

Day 126 - Actualization

I printed stickers for the podcasts I'm a part of. Yes, plural. Three in all. Not even two years ago I shied away from recording my voice. Now I'll be attending a podcast forum and sharing stickers with anyone that cares to learn about our podcasts.

My wife used to joke about my life choices, and how I seem to have self-actualized. This was when I was "paying" to volunteer as she called it. Attending events to learn and engage with people who cared about their community.

Fast forward two years later, I'm an unwitting leader of a community that is almost two years old, by virtue of saying yes to being on a podcast, I now a participant in one, an active member of another, and the director of a third. An experiment I held earlier, inspired members of the community to start their own podcasts.

I'm launching the LeadIN chapter in Dubai, and continuing my work in service design.

Lil dude is standing and semi walking ahead of schedule, so my Chief development officer duties are on track.

I've learned how to make good coffee, that tastes good without sugar. So I guess the one thing that remains, that I need to really invest in is my physical health.

Day 125 - Goosebumps and chalkboards

I remain fascinated by the impact of words on our body. When what is visceral manifests as physical. The phrase "I'm getting goosebumps" is a great example of how a range of feelings can raise the little hairs on your arms. It can happen if you're anxious, scared, or excited.

The experience of when you get goosebumps is interesting. For example, if you're in a room with 10 other people, listening to or watching the same thing, I'd bet that your goosebumps moment is unique to you.

Each individual, based on their past experience, will have something that resonated with them, and evoked a feeling strong enough to get goosebumps. Equally possible, is that no one else had a visceral reaction to that same thing that made you feel goosebumps.

I had an inflection point recently, where goosebumps were replaced by that feeling of nails on chalkboards, or a fork scraping a plate. I noticed a pattern of one colleague using defeatist language in terms of their contribution and ability to the project. I had fallen into the habit of dismissing what they said, by offering automatic platitudes.

It happened one time too many, when suddenly it started feeling like forks on a plate. I could no longer stand it, it felt painful. This person has demonstrated that they've had a long storied career, and then in equal measure proceeds to torpedo their effort and contribution single handedly.

I had to clarify to them, that their self talk is harmful, not only to themselves, but also to us. How are we supposed to trust your work, if you don't trust yourself. How is the client supposed to understand your self talk? Should they lose faith in your ability? Should they understand that they've made a mistake? That you are not the right person for this sensitive work to be completed, and by extension, the rest of your team, is equally incompetent?

The reason I no longer want to be in fixed, salaried corporate engagements, is because moments like these, become a pervasive part of an organization's culture. If this wasn't a temporary project based team, this self doubt becomes an invitation to sabotage team dynamics. It could easily lead into a cycle of gossip and personality politics.

A person is responsible for how they feel, fears and self doubt are as contagious as genuine smiles and warmth. What you say, and eventually believe about yourself, is an order of magnitude more constructive or destructive than someone else's assessment of you.

Day 124 - What happened to the time

It's 8 am and I just remembered that I didn't post last night. It was an action packed day. There are many things I'm grateful for, one of them is that I've gotten 12 applicants for the upcoming Leadin cohort.

I've also gotten confirmation for a space for the month of October. All that remains is for the people to commit by paying an online fee, or opting to pay on the day.

I fully expect that we'll have the 12 people become 6 or 7, which is ok for our first time. I'd rather it feel more intimate and that people walk away having experienced something different in Dubai. I'll need to start reviewing the material and making a judgement call on whether I want it to be fully or partly self facilitated. Maybe I can give them the option and see what they're ready for.

This week also seemed to fold in on itself quite quickly as well.