Freedom to the nose (2): stealing at work

How free are you at work? How free are the people you’re responsible for? “As free as possible,” is a good answer, but there are some clear limits: no-one is allowed to hurt people physically (freedom to the nose) or to steal the property of the organisation (or other people). Intangible theft – stealing time, for example – is harder…

Knowing better (2): How we know

How do we come to know better? There are a range of experiences (I hesitate to call them a hierarchy) that lead us from knowing better in our heads (as an abstract idea) to knowing something deeply as experienced truth (i.e. knowing better “in our knower,” to borrow a phrase). The non-hierarchy of skippable stages* would seem to go: Hearing…

Knowing better (1)

And I will show you a still more excellent way. Paul of Tarsus – First Letter to the Corinthians We often say (and more often think) that someone (and occasionally even we ourselves) should “know better.” How do we come to know?

Watch the meeting

It’s easy to get totally absorbed in a meeting,* but it really helps if you can reserve a piece of your attention for watching what’s going on as well as participating: What’s the temperature of the team as a whole? Who’s engaged? Who isn’t? Why? Who might have something to say that they’re holding back? How does each person feel?…

Do what I say

With alacrity. Unless… … you’re not confident that you understand what I’m asking. … you think you understand but it still doesn’t make sense. … you think I’m missing something important. … what I say is a clearly a bad idea. … you have a better idea for how to do this. … you can suggest something different altogether that’s…

Friendly. Supportive.

These sound too obvious to be worth spending time on. No-one sets out to be the opposite, and pretty much everyone would say they’re a good idea – so much so that you might feel foolish to stand up at a meeting and emphasise their importance. But – and it’s a big but – a friendly and supportive atmosphere needs…

New challenge, old challenge

I am pretty good at new challenges. Most of the time, I rise to them. I enjoy novelty. I like a challenge. It’s stimulating, creative work, and progress is rapid. I’m not so good at challenges that go on longer than I think they should – long enough that the the return on my effort starts to diminish, or that…

Leaning in and leaning out

Your posture matters: in conversation at the table or fireside; on a video call (especially on a video call!); with your kids; while you work alone. It’s a signal of intent to yourself as much as to others, and so often our minds follow our bodies. Leaning in usually helps, especially when you don’t feel like it. Leaning out comes…

The unglamorous work of doing good (2)

I recently delivered some food parcels to families in our area. This was “helping those who have less” in one of its clearer and more concrete forms. I was happy to do it, but it didn’t feel that great: I loaded up my car, delivered the packages to some people who said thanks, and then drove home. It didn’t feel…

The unglamorous work of doing good (1)

The side of the tracks Among the most rewarding pieces of “good” that I’ve ever done was to start a micro-savings group for a small community of men and women who lived along a railway line in West Jakarta. It was hard: hot, dusty, dirty and smelly from the rubbish that they recycled for a living, always smokey from cigarettes…