100 posts for… us?

I’m a practising writer. These posts are first of all for me, and for no-one else, for the time being. No sharing until I hit 100 at least.

Then they’re for the readers and co-workers who will hopefully be blessed by the small percentage of useful ideas that come out of the regular work. And for the people we’ll serve with those ideas.

100 days of showing up

“Ship it.”

“Show up.”

Today is the start of 100 days of showing up: shipping a blog post every day for 100 days.

Not aiming for perfection. Aiming to get the job done every day until November the 8th, whether or not it’s ready. Whether or not it’s read.

The Maestro

Vision isn’t just for what you want to achieve: it’s for who and how you want to be in the world. This type of vision-of-ourselves’ is often called ‘values’.

There’s a lot to say about values – and especially how values and culture sit together and slide around the place.

But today is about The Maestro. At Seth’s recommendation I’ve been reading The Art of Possibility (TaoP) by Rosamund Stone and Ben Zander (UK|US). It’s a fun read, inspiring and of course to be taken with a pinch of salt. Reading it led me on to watching a couple of youtube clips of Ben working with young musicians.

The main thing that struck me is how already-really-good young musicians will sacrifice time and money to work with this Maestro, because of a combination of his knowledge, skill and experience, but also (I think) because of his generosity.

My question is this: allowing for the possibility that you could become a maestro, what sort of maestro would you choose to be?

What is it about you and the way you work that will make people want to partner with you, work with you, learn from you?

The young musicians working with Ben clearly believe that he can help them to get better. Ben talks about ‘shining eyes’ – the look you see when people are deeply engaged – enrolled (see TaoP) – and joyful about what they’re doing.  This is why Ben is interested in helping people get better – so that they can make a contribution.

Are you, is your organisation, good enough at what it does that it makes a difference, that people want to learn from you?

And do you do it generously, in such a way that it’s a pleasure to work with or for you, as well as being served by you? Could more of it be fun?

What do you want to be known for, by your colleagues, by your suppliers, by the person who answers the phone at the next place you call?

What will make people want to come back to work with you again?

Moving targets

Marshall McLuhan apparently once wrote that “If it works, it’s obselete.”

He’s wrong of course. The wheel, concrete and the humble fork are just three examples of thousand-year-old-plus technologies that have stuck around exactly because they do their jobs so well. (Okay, okay, so wheels have got lighter since the Flintstones…)

But McLuhan has a point (of course). And I think it’s this: in life, we’re always trying to hit a moving target.

The contexts in which we serve are ever-changing, as are the people we serve and those we work with. We change. “The Possible” shifts. Even long-term visions – or how we undertand them – are subject to change as we learn and grow.

You find a new way and better way to do the things you’ve always done.

Your customer suddenly finds a better way to get the thing they used to get from you – maybe they stop buying altogether.

A hugely productive, superbly commited colleague cuts their hours and contribution at work as they start a family and need to contribute there instead.

Someone new comes along with talent and commitment and resources, and the horizon shifts.

People get tired.

People get inspired.

I think the point is this: it’s easy to get fed up that we’re never quite done, that the goalposts always seem to be moving… but this is a sign that we’re doing more than just making forks. It’s a sign that we’re doing something important, something involving humans – and that we’re alive.

Being alive is a great problem to have.

Vision – See the Future

You have a gift: you can see the future. It’s easy to forget it, but you can.

Or more accurately, we see futures, plural. Some that happen, some that don’t.

That coffee cup is going to get knocked over.

There’s a car coming.

All the time we see futures that might or might not be, and we choose one, or at least choose to make one more likely. We move a cup. We stop walking.

So much for physics and probability.

You have another gift, another type of vision: the ability to see what could be, or should be, from a long way off.

Can you see what’s good? Do you know it when you see it? How can you learn to see it more clearly? Can you strengthen it?

Harder: can you see the good-shaped hole right in front of you? Will you fill it?

Harder still: can you move the coffee cups, can you plant the right seeds in the right places to fill holes-as-yet-unformed – or better yet, to stop them forming in the first place?

It’s a moving target, but if we’re looking at the right things and looking for the right things – if we have good vision – we can start to choose a future.