Saturday Cup of Joe #161
Friends & Colleagues,
Week 161. This week I spent some time in Spokane, WA and Sandpoint, ID. I took a few days to visit Sandpoint where our friends gathered for a birthday celebration. I had an amazing time. I spent some time learning about Idaho and learning about Native culture from Greywolf, who taught me about Cheyenne tradition and balance in my life. It was a quick but exciting trip to cross off a new state from the places I’ve visited — Idaho — and more importantly, spend time with people I love.
Meeting Greywolf was fun and even though I didn’t see a moose, I did see a large bald eagle as I climbed a cedar tree on the last day there. I’m sure it sounds a bit odd but it was relaxing and meaningful. I enjoy the chance, however brief, to step away from the routine and reflect on the big questions.
“Where you are is a result of who you were, but where you go depends entirely on who you choose to be.” — Hal Elrod
In the game of thrones, you win or you die: I found myself in many different GoT finale conversations over the last few weeks. Did you like the ending? What did you want to happen? I couldn’t help but include this review by Scientific American on how the writing of early seasons versus the last two seasons changed our perception of the show. “At its best, GOT was a beast as rare as a friendly dragon in King’s Landing: it was sociological and institutional storytelling in a medium dominated by the psychological and the individual.”
I tend to agree. My favorite aspect of the show was the alternative values system of most of the characters. Strength over virtue. Knowledge over status. Argument over anything and everything.
What I didn’t expect was the applicability of the author’s analysis to our society:
“Our inability to understand and tell sociological stories is one of the key reasons we’re struggling with how to respond to the historic technological transition we’re currently experiencing with digital technology and machine intelligence.”
As I think about storytelling or narrative, as it is usually called today, I am reminded of how responsive we are to stories and sociological stories. Belonging. Surviving. Winning.
Answer well: I’ve always loved the idea that I heard from Dr. Peter Diamondis on Tim Ferris’s podcast — when you are working to 10x your business, you are competing with everyone else; when you are working to 100x your business, you are the only one out there. Farnam Street highlighted Jeff Bezos’s leadership lessons and I noticed 2 of the 3 are about doing something different than any one else. Those two big ideas are (1) thinking on a different timescale and (3) inventing. The other, not surprisingly is service, (2) putting the customer first.
“Think big” is a tired phrase but think differently might be a helpful reminder this week. I hope so.
Ever heard of evergreen content: It is the type of article or content that doesn’t have a published date and/or doesn’t have anything that “expires” because it references a company, leader or event. Most of these articles are shit. You cannot say anything meaningful if it has to be always true for the most readers. Occasionally an article comes along that is a helpful or useful reminder. For instance, FastCompany published this reminder that I used to think more about my motto — Answer well — and what work-life balance means.
1. Change your perspective — self awareness will guide you to the right work
2. Explore your passion — but remember passion can grow or be tangential
3. Deepen your connections — network effort is real especially with people
4. Always return to your why — meaningful work follows perspective, passion, connections
Positive peer pressure: I’ve written before about two concepts. On one hand, I am curious about this phrase popular in the motivational speaker circuits — you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Do you agree? On the other hand, I’ve seen the positive benefits of peer pressure or what I like to call positive tension inside organizations. You want to drive achievement and that takes company culture.
Our choices are influenced by who we are with when we are asked the question, how those people reacted, any conversations we might have had beforehand and our fundamental understanding of what is normal for that group of friends.
This has implication well beyond just positive peer pressure. Imagine it from a leadership perspective. How you evaluate ideas changes based on who you are with when you hear the idea? Does your decision-making account for this? What implications are here for the diversity & inclusion of different backgrounds and thought processes in the rooms when you evaluate proposals and ideas?
Do you have the right influencers around you? Are you one? How?
As seen on Medium.com this week: From an article titled “Advice To My Younger Self” Dan Pedersen posted the following thought in his post: “Your true expertise will probably be in an area where you are most troubled. Your mission is to learn how to deal with your struggles so you can be a light for others.”
How true is this? Has it been true in your life?
What does it mean for leaders?
What does it mean for entrepreneurship?
Thoughts from my Dad: My father used to tell me the old phrase, “it’s not what you don’t know that kills you, it’s what you think you know that just ain’t true, that gets you.”
I don’t necessarily buy into strict levels of thinking — Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, etc. — but I do like to consider “next level thinking.” Level 3 (at least according to this article) is defined as “imaginative ideas, unique perspectives, innovative strategies, or novel (alternative) approaches to traditional practices.”
The point is that thinking about thinking is important.
How often do you do it? How do you step back and consider the implications of your decisions and decisions that will result from those decisions?
This week in entertaining but ultimately pointless data visualization — US map organized by ‘most wikipedia’d name’ in the area. Interesting for those small towns with a “hometown hero.” Examples include Kristen Wiig in Lancaster, PA and Katie Holmes in Toledo, OH. Interesting ones I’d like to research more — Ernest Hemingway in Ketchum, Idaho.
“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” — Voltaire
Today’s Thought: Quick parenting lesson that Greywolf taught me. In Native culture, there is a sacred altar set up in the middle of the teepee. Kids will run around, as kids of all cultures do, and eventually the altar will be knocked over. Instead of yelling at the child or demanding the child change their behavior, the Native people will simply rebuild the altar explaining in detail the meaning of each item as the altar is rebuilt. Each time, the children must listen as the altar is reconstructed piece by piece. Each time, the story is long and specific. Soon, without any prompting from the parents, the kids will start looking out for the altar, telling each other — watch out or you’ll have to hear the story of the altar again. In this way, the children learn and manage their own behavior without the need for yelling or demanding. I don’t know what the altar is in our home but it was a valuable lesson that I am going to try to apply in creative ways with my daughter.
Quote: “To doubt everything or to believe everything are two equally convenient solutions; both dispense with the necessity of reflection.” — Henri Poincare
Continued success and continue to answer well,