Category: Manage yourself

On paid employment, work, craft, and spare time

Even if a man’s whole day be spent as a servant of an industrial concern, in his spare time he will make something, if only a window box flower garden. ((Eric Gill, An Essay on Typography, 2nd paragraph, via laudator temporis acti, accessed 200915))

A job is not the only work you do. Equating paid employment with work is at the root of the “work-life balance” discussion going nowhere.

What is your craft? What is the thing you do in your spare time? And if the answer is “what is spare time?”, therein lies the rub.

We might need to revisit our view of “time is money”, keep and eye on the family-to-work spillover effect, and wonder what is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?.

 

 

We can overcome our empathy deficit

Given our current circumstances after six months of the pandemic, and not being anywhere near a new normal, you would think that we would be sensitive to the realities of the people around us. Well, according to Scientific American, it turns out we’re not. (( https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-us-has-an-empathy-deficit accessed 200918))

Empathy is a powerful force and human beings need it. Here are three things that might help to remedy our collective empathy deficit:

  1. Take the time to ask those you encounter how they are feeling, and really listen. Try to put yourself in their shoes. Remember that we all tend to underestimate other people’s emotional distress, and we’re most likely to do so when those people are different from us.
  2. Remind yourself that almost everyone is at the end of their rope these days. Many people barely have enough energy to handle their own problems, so they don’t have their normal ability to think about yours.
  3. Finally, be aware that what is empathy for one person may not be empathy for another person. It’s not a concept that speaks for itself. Asking your friends, family, and coworkers what empathy is for them might open a new door to understanding and helping those around us.

 

 

A calling, a lifetime dedication to an audacious project, and the interview question

Towering above the nearby blocks in the Eixample district of Barcelona, the Sagrada Família is unmistakable for its colossal scale and its convention-defying architecture.

Looking like a Gothic cathedral seen through a surreal fairytale filter, this is the most audacious project of the influential Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926). More than 135 years after construction began and long after Gaudí’s death it is quite visibly still a work in progress.

Stone Cut is a brief profile of the Japanese sculptor Etsuro Sotoo, who, for 40 years, has made finishing Gaudí’s would-be masterpiece his life’s work. “I was awakened by a piece of stone.”

This last sentence is intriguing.

I say we don’t really know who someone is until we know their story; until we know what brought them here.

Come to think of it, that might be the best way to start a job interview.

Not unlike what doctors and lawyers do:

So, tell us, what brings you here today?

 

See also

Post-covid19 job interview

Questions and their purpose

 

 

 

 

 

Good trouble. Necessary trouble.

Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.

— ⁦@repjohnlewis

john lewis

 

Keep track of what really matters

I am a fan of keeping a journal. I keep one myself and I encourage the leaders I work with to do the same.

The format does not really matter (what you thought, what you did, what you said, how you felt, etc.) as long as you record it. By recording it you’re acknowledging that it mattered at the time and you’re making it matter now.

You don’t keep a journal to revisit it. You keep a journal to make a record, to state that your day mattered.

I’m reminded of this by a recent post I read on keeping a Good Times list:

to notice and record the moments and experiences in life that bring you joy, or that energise and fulfil you. This one thing will help you appreciate what really matters, and to do more of them. It’s simple to do, and you need nothing more than a pen and paper.

It’s another form of “counting your blessings”. And it will help you keep track of what really matters.

[photo by Dina Spencer]

 

 

It’s too early to call it “the new normal”

We’re at the end of Week 3. We made it through another week!

I say “made it through” because there is nothing usual about these times.

Almost 10 million people filed unemployment clams in the last two weeks. 24% of SMEs have shut down temporarily in response to COVID-19. Among those who haven’t temporarily shut down, 40% are likely to do so within the next two weeks. I think folks are too quick to call the current circumstances “the new normal”.

And for those of us who are still employed, we’re not really “working from home”. It’s more like we’re at home, with our spouse/partner, with our children, with our pets, all day, every day, trying to get work done.

We’re coordinating events, chores, and meals with our spouse/partner, arranging lessons and homework with the children, walking the dog, etc., all day, every day, trying to get work done.

This is not the common variety of remote work, distributed work, or WFH. This is survival in new challenging circumstances that will last for a while.

So, let’s not expect productivity to be the same as before – our productivity, that of the people we work with, and that of the people who work for us.

And let’s not judge. Depending on whether you have worked from home before this, whether you have children at home, and depending on the health of your financial situation, everyone is tackling different sets of challenges which might cause them to be nervous, anxious, and scared.

If anything, these new circumstances should make us more understanding, kinder, and more forgiving of ourselves and others.

Stay healthy. Stay home. Stay connected.

 

Finding humor amid the challenges of working from home

As countries are now enforcing some form of quarantine, many of us are (re)discovering the travails of working from home.

You might remember Robert Kelly on the BBC from some years ago. I’m sure he didn’t find the episode humorous as it occurred…

but he certainly did later.

Stay healthy… and keep smiling!

 

How can management theories guide life decisions?

On the last day of class, Clayton Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor, asks his students to turn those theoretical lenses on themselves to find cogent answers to three questions:

First, how can I be sure that I’ll be happy in my career?

Second, how can I be sure that my relationships with my spouse and my family become an enduring source of happiness?

Third, how can I be sure I’ll stay out of jail?

Though the last question sounds lighthearted, it’s not. Two of the 32 people in my Rhodes scholar class spent time in jail. Jeff Skilling of Enron fame was a classmate of mine at HBS. These were good guys—but something in their lives sent them off in the wrong direction.

As the students discuss the answers to these questions, I open my own life to them as a case study of sorts, to illustrate how they can use the theories from our course to guide their life decisions.

More at How will you measure your life?

 

 

 

Life lost on the curated projections of other people’s lives?

Worth pondering from James Shelley:

Time spent reading social timelines is time lost. Scrolling through a timeline is time consumed by the curated projections of other people’s lives, which are absorbed wholly and only at the cost of living your own.

Or, to put it another way: time spent on timelines amounts to time spent not living your life.

Spending your time on a timeline is valuable only to the extent you define value in your life by the amount of your life spent reading about the lives of others.

Time spent on a timeline is not time paused, it is life extracted. On average, then, time spent reading timelines is irredeemable and wasted.

If the most immediate value we derive from timelines is that they distract us from ourselves — from the lives we are living, here and now — how much value should ascribe to them?

See also Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.

 

9 Simple Money Rules On 1 Index Card

“[The best personal finance advice] can fit on a 3-by-5 index card, and is available for free in the library.”

“So, if you’re paying someone for advice, almost by definition, you’re probably getting the wrong advice because the correct advice is so straightforward.”

 

  1. Max your 401(k) or equivalent employee contribution.
  2. Buy inexpensive, well-diversified mutual funds such as Vanguard Target 20xx funds.
  3. Never buy or sell an individual security. The person on the other side of the table knows more than you do about this stuff.
  4. Save 20% of your money.
  5. Pay your credit card balance in full every month.
  6. Maximize tax-advantaged savings vehicles like Roth, SEP and 529 accounts.
  7. Pay attention to fees. Avoid actively managed funds.
  8. Make financial advisors commit to the fiduciary standard.
  9. Promote social insurance programs to help people when things go wrong.

Source: The Index Card