crying at the voice

What happens when you put all your chips onto a bet? It happens that if the bet doesn’t go as planned you’re broke. End of the game.

It’s what happens when we have high stakes with an uncertain future. And as you might guess: it can go wrong.

Crying is the only alternative when you have no other choice. When you failed everything.

The alternative though might have been to be prepared to failure too. Have a plan b and a plan c. Because life rarely gives you what you want.

filler words

Ever wondered why you don’t use filler words when talking with friends but you start filling each speech with “uh” “eh” when you do it?

It’s the clear demonstration that it’s not because of the skills (afterall you can do it effortlessy) but because of the stakes, the stress, the preparation.

only being human can save us

I’ve always been fascinated by how different companies manage critical issues, problems, etc.
How do they give credit to the people working there, how do they show their appreciations for the work they’re doing.
How they communicate a low performance problem or give perks to enjoy the day to day working life.

It’s a long list of things and many people do differently.
Taking some example from Tech Companies that share this information on the public you can see many different takes.

If you look at Gitlab, you’ll see a very precise, structured document (search Gitlab Handbook) with lots of information.
It is amazing when you look at it, yet it’s missing something.
In my gut I always felt like a piece of the puzzle was missing.

Yes, these handbooks are great, but they leave out a key part of the entire process: Being human.

And I realized it only when I looked at the best in class example of it, the handbook of Basecamp.

They recently shared a blog post with some addition to the handbook and what made a difference for me was reading how they manage issues with the performance of an employee.

That’s hard right?
Well, what they wrote is nothing unusual. There are 3 incremental steps and if you continue to fail, guess what? You’re up to discussing if basecamp is still a good fit for you.

What’s different is the last chapter which titles
“What’s the biggest, most important detail missing from everything above?”
And the answer is: Support.

Then they go explaining the human side of it. Because when you write by explaining rules of a high stress condition (“you’re not performing well”) it would be terrible to think of a simple “3 wrong shots and you’re out”.
Yet they took the time to write it, to show this human side and write it in plain words.

That’s the key part. The part where the company takes a stand and says “I see you. You’re not a number. I know you. I understand you and before letting you down I’ll do all I can do to help you”.
It’s not about being a remote first company, it’s not about being a successful business. It’s about being human and honest and vulnerable.

Because only this will make a difference in the end.

You can read the doc here:
https://github.com/basecamp/handbook/blob/master/performance-plans.md

the captain of the boat

You might be fooled into thinking you are the captain of a boat. 

That you have the power to decide what to do. That you are the only one that knows best what to do.

This will tear you down once you’ll see how easily each and every position can be dismantled, taken over by anyone with higher hierarchy, power, or intentions than you.

You can earn more, be more powerful, but rarely you’ll be in the highest level of command. 

The true power, the one and only.place where no one can give you orders.
The sad news is that there is no such thing and all we can do is to do our best work in our way.

“Wait, should I surrender then?” Of course not. But you can’t fight all the battle nor they are useful to you. It might be better then to “Lose” by giving some freedom to the rest of the world. “Letting them do their work, in their vision”: Allowing them to express fully their point of view which we might not understand nor agree with.

Could it lead to a worse outcome than our idea? Yes. But what’s at stake?

When you fight for a privilege, for a position of power, you’re not simply fighting. You’re not simply using your time during the fight.

Your mind will go back and forth in the events during all day and night. Your emotional status will change and will deplenish your mood. 
Your energy will be sucked in by a black hole of bad intentions, only for a single gain, a greed of power, your struggle to success.

So, would it be worth it? What will change in your life if you win, and how much of your life would you lose for it? Think about you craving the next fight, you shouting at your spouse, you wandering while eating with your friends.

Life will pass by while planning how to win, or regretting the lost battle.

It’s easy to misread success.
It’s not always what you gain.
It’s what you get to protect and keep.

it takes heart to be creative

You don’t need to be a genius to create things. You need to put some heart into things. Love them. Be focused as if you’re caring for the most precious gift.

That is creativity. The ability to enjoy every single shadow of black, every glimpse of light, every smile, every word.

No two things will be alike in your mind, no similarities, because when creativity strikes you can see the subtle differences in each nuance, even though before they all looked the same.

less might be more

We’re obsessed by having more, owning more. Our cars, the number of the shirts in the closet, our shoes, the food we buy and then we throw away.

We accumulate products of any kind. Some of them will stay hidden in our homes for years befone getting thrown out (not even donated), others go into the trash can when they rot.

We’ve been taught this way. That we should have more, partly because of the though “If people see how poor your are, they’ll judge you”. So owning things is a status, and not owing them means you’re poor.

So we work more to buy more stuff we won’t use as much, owning things only to make a great impression to people and not because they enrich us thanks to their style or how they make us feel.

We work more, we stress more, we do more to have more. Again and again.

But what would happen if all of a sudden we realize that this fake-rich status isn’t what we really want? What would society be if we’d let go of the need for such low value status and go towards a more human, intimate judgement of how we are and which kind of value we take into the world?

Maybe we could all work less, have less, and still be happy.

Maybe we’ll be less stressed, need less clothes, waste less food and still have plenty of time, friends, relationships.
Hell yes, maybe we’ll even deepen our relationships thanks to more time and less stress.

Maybe we’ll learn to think twice before buying stuff and food. Maybe we’ll start buying only if we throw away something. Maybe we won’t fill up the fridge with food we’ll trash, maybe we’ll start valuing these things not based on the status they’ll give to us, but on the value they’ll take into our lives.

Not because we want to make a good impression, but because we value what they are.

And maybe, just maybe, we’ll start thinkin about people in the same way.
Not weighting their status, their role, their posessions, but what kind of value they take into the world and into our lives.

A radical shift nonetheless, but a shift that’s not impossible to achieve.

the smallest part of the whole

If you’re learning a new, complex, skill, you’ll fail a lot.
This is normal. 
But if you want to accomplish something and understand the behaviour and the mechanics behind your topic, you might want to reduce it to the small viable part that executes it.

For example, say you want to learn how to tackle complex problems with your husband you might not want to start with your big issue, but with a small issue. Reduce the stakes so that even if you fail it won’t be a problem.

This way you can test, fail and refine, and only after you mastered the smallest part, you go up higher.

give them a way out

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a nice way to exit a conversation? Or to have a safe option in case everything goes wrong?

I guess we all love this opportunity. The chance to simply get out of a trip you weren’t supposed to embark upon.

When we confront with people, we tend to give them only the options we like, trapping them into a maze where either you do what we want, or everything goes back.

It makes us feel in control, with much more power than what we deserve.
What would happen if we could give them a chance to get out with no pressure?
What choices would they make if we don’t put them under stress?

We’re not always closing a deal, and even if we do, giving the opportunity to back out is great because it allows people to have more vision, to see clearly what’s happening.
Truth is, we might do it to hide the issues with our proposal.

Think about it: If you’re offering them something that’s truly unique, why would they refuse?
If they do, it’s because you’re selling them something they don’t either want or understand.

In both cases, it’s your fault.
Yes, the pressure might close the deal, get them on your side, accept your offer (even a non marketing offer, we might talk about friendship, relationships, a raise).

But if you’d give them a way out and do your best, what would be the outcome?

ready to fail

Small or big change? What are you after?

If you’re after a big change, you should prepare yourself.
Not only technically, but emotionally, because you’ll fail. A lot.

Think about learning to negotiate. Do you think you’ll get it right away? No.
If you feel like learning it, then it’s because you’re not good at negotiating. Which means that you’ll need to do a lot of negotiations.

And many, if not all, will fail.
You will fail, again and again, and again.

You will fail beyond any imagination if the change you’re seeking is bigger than what you ever dreamed of.

You’ll fail in each part of the process, in each part of learning. Because big changes don’t happer overnight. They build up slowly.
Hidden in each failure there’s a golden nugget you can take home. A small rock to build a solid house.
Yet, you won’t see that house until some time passes, months, years who knows.

Be prepared. Emotionally.

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