• making space for growth

    When we talk about growth we might instinctively think of “another thing to learn”. That happened to me quite a few times. 

    It would also be true, but adding things to our todo list isn’t a very efficient way to grow because, what usually happens, is that we tend to never reach the end, or reach it with minimal learnings.

    We should, instead, prioritize making space for it.

    Making space might happen in two ways.

    Time. The most obvious. No time, no space. Time is needed to learn anything, it’s the currency we need to have.

    Mind. I’m not talking about having the right approach, but having enough space in the mind to allow new information to flow. 

    Even by using the todo list, we’re adding stress and taking space in our mind. 

    It’s really hard to not think about how long that todo list is, how we’d like to get to the end, what’s next etc.

    These thoughts take space, which in turn limit our ability to learn new topics and experiment.

  • we’re an iteration

    We should constantly strive to iterate, to make a small step in front of the other, to change. Slowly but profoundly.

    Change would happen anyway, after all. 

    Our environment changes us every day, making us more sick or more happy. 

    A stressing work might change you, making you harsher, more reactive to news than you’ve ever been.

    Change will happen, so better be leading some of it.

    When we look at change, we always think about big transformations.

    Think about losing weight for example. If we think about change we link it to being lean.

    That, though, is the outcome. Not the change.

    The change is incremental, step by step. We may lose a big chunk of weight in the beginning, but then it gets harder and you lose it in smaller amounts.

    But those amounts do sum up and in the end allow you to reach the outcome.

    Yet, those amounts are small and if you look at them individually they don’t feel like a big change. What’s a 1% change? Is it worth it?

    If I do a 1% change today nobody will care, nobody will notice, right?

    But, if you consistently do a 1% change every time (day, year, month), they add up.

    With 10 changes, it’s a 10% change, is that worth it?

    A change is nothing without being consistent and going through all the depressing phases where each change seems so small it’s useless.

    But they are not, as long as we are consistent with them.

  • accepting the limits

    I’ve recently finished listening to 4000 weeks by Oliver Burkeman and it’s hard to shake off the feeling I got from the book.

    First off: I didn’t expect to actually like the book. It felt like the classic book with information on how to live/manage time that I could’ve gotten already.

    That wasn’t the case though. 

    It made me think a lot. Mostly about how I approach the world, what anxiety comes from some of my choices, how I handle expectations and, in the end, how I handle time.
    One of the things that was striking to me was the idea that we cannot fake it.

    We don’t have enough time to do it all.
    We will fail to do some of our tasks/goals.
    Not only that, but we will fail inevitably, and this is a good thing. 

    Even if you look at this concept through the lenses of the workplace, the result might be interesting.

    From time to time, I get the classical imposter syndrome. As a result of this I try to do more, even better, often pushing my limits (and guess what? My stress levels).

    But in the end, and unless there’s a big error somewhere, we only have two roads ahead: 
    1. Either you’re already fit for the job and you need to accept what you can already do and just do it.
    2. Or you’re not fit, and sooner or later the time will come.

    You might say that option 2 can be, in fact, changed. We can all improve, and I agree with that concept, but there’s a limit to that. You cannot change instantly, so it’s useless to worry in the short term. 

    It’s absolutely ok and precious to work on improving your skills in the medium/long term, but if your imposter syndrome is hitting you hard, the problem you feel belongs to the now. And now there’s little you can do.

    You can take a breath, wait a couple of seconds, and accepting where you are now.

  • a broken expectation

    It’s hard to not talk about what’s happening with Twitter, but aside from the facts, I think this story tell us something more on how we see leaders. 

    To me, this traces back to the idea that we want leaders to be indestructible, bold, strong.

    This single idea of strong, the idea that the leader will always have the answer, that the leader will always be the one imparting “orders” is very Hollywood like. It’s as if we do expect a hero from a movie to come out of the screen and do the hard work.

    People do make mistakes, any person can fail. This is true. In the overall idea of a fictional leader we do expect them to not fail, we confuse that boldness with a guarantee of success, which is not.

    Their courage, their stake against the status quo, made some of the most famous leaders in the world who they are. But that doesn’t make them perfect or infallible. 

    “Past performance is not indicative of future”, this is true for people too. 

    Yes, many leaders did make a difference thanks to their instinct, thanks to their vision, thanks to their skills. This is not to say that we shouldn’t trust them at all, but we should be aware that a leader is a human, like us. 

    They can suffer from the same biases we do, they are not immune to those. 

    It’s hard to know what will happen to twitter. Maybe this is a good move afterall and everything will turn out great. But, personally, I feel we’ve been intoxicated far too long by this idea of “Bold Leaders”, forgetting all the long history of modest, introvert leaders, that made a big dent in the world (if you’re curious, the book Quiet, by Susan Cain, have some examples on this).

  • let the new things surround you

    I decided to take a look at the “I am not your guru” documentary of Tony Robbins out of curiosity and I was both impressed and reassured.

    Impressed by his ability to craft such experience for an enormous group of people, but more importantly watching it reminded me of how it is important to “dive” into concepts before discarding them.

    I have always been a learner. I learn things, I try things. When there’s something you I test it and my knowledge grows with these experiences. I know so much more today thanks to the way I am. Some people are often surprised by this, but it’s not really a special skill, rather I have a quite high tolerance for the unknown, for the chaos, for the new things.

    Imagine a child on a beach, his father nearby. The child never went into water, let alone swim.
    His father asks him to try and enter the water.
    The child puts his feet in it, the water is cold, he comes back.

    How much did the child discover of water? How much will he know?

    When we try new things our default is to be scared, to reject the new, to discard. It’s both our instinct and our brain that tell us this.
    But to know something you need to go deep. You need to be immersed, you need to stay in that water for long.
    You don’t need to become skilled, but you need to spend time in it. To feel comfortable, to be able to say “I like this, while I don’t like that”.

    If your answer is “I don’t like that” you’ve probably not gone deep enough because in each new thing there is something good, interesting.
    The whole experience might not be your thing but you should be able to discern what you like and what you don’t like.
    And when I say “Like”, I mean it. “Like” like “If it was only this I could do it for my whole life”.

    I believe learning is this. Diving into something, loosing track of where you started and maybe coming back, or maybe go forward with something new, something you found along the way that you didn’t have before.

  • kids trajectory

    When we’re kids, we dream big.

    “I want to be an astronaut”, we say.
    Those are words, but there are some inclinations that we have when we are kids.Skills, one might say, that we didn’t build per se, but that we always owned.

    Are those traits still with you?

    I’m not talking about passions you inherit from others, like loving to dress because in your family someone is always well-dressed, or liking to bike because your father went always biking.

    I’m talking about imagination, drawing, kindness, playfulness, shyness, being an extrovert, etc.
    Traits we didn’t have *because* we were emulating someone.
    Traits we had because we liked or because they were always there.

    How many of them are still there, how many were a foundation to the person you are today?

    I always thought that we are defined by our experiences, that life changes us (in good and bad ways), but even though I still agree with this, I believe some of those traits were a guiding light in what we would eventually become.

    Those were our trajectory.
    They would pave the road in front of us.
    Those were the bricks, we are the building.

  • on black swans

    I’ve always been fascinated by the people who are certain of the future.

    They know which outcome will happen thanks to an action.

    I was never like this. In my entire life I always guessed the outcome and even if I was often right I was never one of those people who was sure that their guesses would prove correct every time.

    This might be mostly because I was always a possibilist, someone that takes into account that things change, things are unforeseeable, how people react can not be known for certain.

    To my knowledge future can always hold for us something we can’t imaging. Both in personal and professional life. Things can go extremely well or wrong depending on topics we didn’t include into our vision.

    That’s the main discussion topic around black swan, masterfully described in the book by the same name by Taleb. Amazon was unforeseeable until it happened, same goes with netflix. You might guess some of it, but rarely to which extend that will happen.

    That’s the beauty of life, we know just a little and we can’t know it all.

  • fake rage, true joy

    I’ve been on stage quite some times in the past​, mostly for improv shows.

    I remember the thrill before stepping onto the stage, the pressure and the excitement when we played all together.

    Improv teaches you how to handle the unexpected and enjoy the process. To me it was very stimulating, a creative process, and I loved every bit of it.

    When I look back at those times I can’t help thinking about what it took to perform some emotions on stage.

    Specifically: Rage and Joy.

    Rage is such an easy emotion to express. It’s quick, it’s cheap. You might say that expressing rage without shouting is more difficult, and it would be true, but at the same time we can’t deny that we can instantly get into a “rage” mood with little or no effort.

    Joy, on the other hand, is extremely complex. People see it you’re faking it, all the time and it’s also hard to represent on a stage.

    In the book “The art of learning”, Josh Waitzkin listed some examples of how high-performance people (we’re talking of Olympics athletes for example, so the top 1% probably) entered their state of mind before a competition, being it a creative state of mind or a focus/skill one.

    One of the techniques is to find an anchor that recalls your memory into a moment when you had that state. The anchor can be anything, a song, some moves to do, whatever, but it must be a real anchor. It must be something that each time strongly evokes that moment.

    I believe this is part of the reason we can easily evoke rage. We have strong anchors because rage often relies on of internal inputs that don’t change, while joy also relies on external changes that we do not control.

    Internally, rage is fueled by our prejudice, misconceptions, misunderstandings, the way we see and expect the world.

    These things hardly change over time (unless you truly want to change them). Also we can easily recall every raging moment because it’s so strong and it permeated our body.

    We underestimate joy and that is also the reason why we don’t have as many strong joy moments as the rage ones. Also, we don’t have many anchors so we can’t find an straightforward way to get to that state of mind.

  • we’re iterative, and we can choose.

    Last night I dreamed a strange dream, there were like 6-8 people in a room and we were coached by a friend.

    She split us in group of two people and asked us to mix.

    While doing so she also mixed some liquids (she was mixing liquid CO2 with something else, but never mind that).

    She said “Some things work best together, some not, we should be able to take the right things and leave the wrong ones”.

    In the dream I was looking at the impossible drop of CO2 put on a spoon and moved into another liquid, not reacting at all, reaction was good, but was not happening.

    When I woke up today I realized that “selecting the right things to keep” is not something we do often. Our characters and behaviors are defined by a global mix that works and when we act we use a complex mix of knowledge, charisma, wording choices and so on. 

    We don’t look at our actions by selecting the single element to keep but mostly as a “this worked, this didn’t work”, without diving into the reasoning.

    Also, we (or at least I) forget that we can learn a lot from others, even if we dislike a big chunk of them,  because we can select the good things they’re doing and learn from them.

    This is an iterative process similar to the the “1% better every day” you can use for improve the conversion on a website, but works on a different scale and level.

    It’s obvious we can’t improve 1% every day, but if we ever commit to trying new things and letting go of the wrong one we might be finally up to something.

  • split society

    During the pandemic I often wore a mask even if it was not required and some times I wore it even if I knew that mask wouldn’t protect me at all (since it wasn’t a FFP2).

    Why wear it at all?

    I thought a lot about it and thought how our body send messages to other people with the small nuances in our face in the way we move and so on.

    The reasoning for my choice was to send a message: I care.

    To me it was never about the rules, it was mostly about people.

    I knew that my actions and my carelessness might impact other people lives so I choose to send a message. That I value protecting others.

    I’m sure that some people might not agree with this stance but I can say this: While I was walking some people put on their masks. My action reminded them in some ways of the times we were living in a subtle and hopefully kind manner.

    I never asked anyone to wear it, but always led with my personal choice and example and the goal to me was never to protect myself since I’m also in an age where there are less downsides than usual but instead to protect others and show them that I cared for them.

    After the first year of the pandemic we saw society split as a whole on the topic of masks, vaccines and so on. We thought that the divisive element was related to the vaccines but now, with a world conflict in Ukraine we can see this was not the case.

    Every time I read some comments on the topic we are always splitted and I constantly see hatred on both sides.

    It’s the medium and our prejudices that create the split in the society. It’s the fact that we are not spending enough time understanding different perspectives and keeping an open mind, it’s about less hatred and more caring.

    Looking back at my actions I’m sure some might’ve hated my choice, but I do hope some will see them as a way of caring even though they’re on a difference stance then me.