Stardate S03E31

Mood: 💩. Still finding my footing, and working on keeping my inner saboteurs in check.

An autumn morning’s jog along the Arve to Bout-du-Monde

🌹 What am I grateful for this week?

Our Bubala lunch on Tuesday made for a fitting farewell to not just a dear colleague, but to a particular way of working. While nobody can read the tea leaves for what lies ahead, honoring transitions is important. And it gives us something we can look back on with pride: how we worked towards common goals, or tested our autonomy* within the wider system.

Moreover, there was a time when crossing borders meant disconnecting oneself from the buzz of a circle of friends and all the social activities therein. Nowadays it feels more like stepping across from one circle to another. If the step after FOMO is JOMO, the next step is to not miss out anywhere — to have others to lean on wherever you find yourself.

🌵 What do I wish could have gone differently?

Looking ahead, it seems like the contours of what we do will be changing, though to what degree is still unclear. A loss of autonomy** both in the work itself and the circumstances that brought change about. That part is always hard.

Is there much we could do to change the outcome, though? As I dig deeper into the PQ coaching program, I’ve been learning more about my saboteurs and the ones that most often accompany my inner critic — the pleaser & the avoider. Sometimes they’ll whisper in my ear:

  • I should put the needs of others ahead of my own.
  • If I get into conflict with others, I might lose my connection with them.
  • Maybe if I let go it will take care of itself.
  • I have found balance. I don’t want to mess with it. I’d rather give someone else their way than create a scene.

Visualizing a different outcome, ex post facto, is the practice we’ve been building this past week. Slowly but surely, they insist, it helps rewire the brain to take that action the next time around. I would love to be less passive in the weeks ahead, able to intercept and label the judgments as they appear so I can regain balance.***

💡 What do I need to remember?

One of the core teachings in the PQ program is around how automatic it is for us to cast judgment, rather than simply discerning the truth and seeing situations clearly. This isn’t something we unlearn overnight, but it starts with an awareness of the difference between the two.

Funnily enough, corporate leaders are often praised for their sound judgment and it’s seen as a sign of competency at the highest levels. A more powerful framing is to remember that judgment is clouded in bias and (usually negative) emotion, whereas discernment is what enables us to act level-headed in any situation. People never make bad decisions in their own eyes, but they don’t always see clearly. I’ll strive for clarity first.

There’s a difference between judgment and discernment, of oneself, others and the circumstances around us.

📚 What did I discover?

A reminder that we can’t argue others into submission, no matter how logical our argument. Underlying all our logic is set of beliefs that we’re already convinced of, so if you can tell a story that appeals to our worldview, you don’t need to do the hard work of convincing me. I’ll already be nodding with what you have to say.

Spotted this on Oana’s reading list — a simple tweak to move us beyond value & usability, on to desirability. It’s always made more sense to me this way, that people should want to use what’s on offer, rather than consider it valuable at a distance. One intention is more powerful than the other (and better for the commercials, too!).

🏠 AOB

If it were possible to map out the per-capita number and frequency of ‘no’s handed down from higher levels of seniority in an organization to lower levels — would that be a barometer of organizational health? It’s hard to quantify what healthy challenge looks like at scale and in practice, but surely when doers are given more autonomy to do, more doing gets done?

I suppose the flipside is when ‘no’s come from bottoms-up, say, in the form of government resignations that’s brought about the changing of hands of the PM. Is that the most powerful ‘no’ that the doers have at their disposal — the law of two feet?

*How would I characterize it? Adopting a playful attitude towards systems of control. And putting people first whenever pushing against those boundaries. The music just happened to stop when the chairs were farthest away.

**The sloganeering of “take back control” comes to mind — a bit tainted with history, yes, but it does speak to the heart of why autonomy matters.

***Curiosity is another practice I can lean on to help me out here. Another slogan I aspire to: “don’t get mad, get curious instead.”

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Sean K. Gabriel

Aloha (🤙。◕‿‿◕。)🤙 big on building teams & lean products. Author @ aspiringpm.com. Thinking aloud with #weeknotes. Works best when caffeinated ☕️