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.

Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity

The quote in the title is from Simone Weil.

When I pay attention I am giving my time. It prompts the question: Who, or what, receives my attention?

Therein lies my treasure.

A subtler, more intangible, but vital kind of moral consensus: Comity

[It] exists in a society to the degree that those enlisted in its contending interests have a basic minimal regard for each other: one party or interest seeks the defeat of an opposing interest on matters of policy, but at the same time seeks to avoid crushing the opposition, denying the legitimacy of its existence or its values, or inflicting upon it extreme and gratuitous humiliations beyond the substance of the gains that are being sought.

The basic humanity of the opposition is not forgotten; civility is not abandoned; the sense that a community life must be carried on after the acerbic issues of the moment have been fought over and won is seldom very far out of mind; an awareness that the opposition will someday be the government is always present

(source)

Discovered in translation

A translator, being obliged by the nature of his task to attend to every single successive phrase of his author, however plain the meaning may seem, and to consider the intelligibility of what he renders to the uninitiated, sometimes discovers points of real difficulty which have escaped even the most thorough commentators, or arrives at fresh solutions of old problems. (source)

Not only in formal translation but also when living in multiple languages. It sometimes helps to think of a situation in a different language.

 

See also: Discovery is not finding new lands, it’s something else

Here’s a 10-point audit to help you assess your stress level

Manfred Kets de Vries at KnowledgeINSEAD:

Consider your life today and answer the following questions:

  1. Do you feel that your life is out of control and that you have too many things on your plate?
  2. Do you often feel confused, anxious, irritable, fatigued or physically debilitated?
  3. Are you having increased interpersonal conflicts (e.g. with your spouse, children, other family members, friends or colleagues)?
  4. Do you feel that negative thoughts and feelings are affecting how you function at home or at work?
  5. Is your work or home life no longer giving you any pleasure?
  6. Do you feel overwhelmed by the demands of emails, messaging tools and social media?
  7. Do you feel that your life has become a never-ending treadmill?
  8. Are you prone to serious pangs of guilt every time you try to relax?
  9. Have you recently experienced a life-altering event such as a change of marital status, new work responsibilities, job loss, retirement, financial difficulties, injury, illness or death in the family?
  10. When you are stressed out, do you feel that you have nobody to talk to?

If you have answered “yes” to most of these questions, stress might have started to build up. If you feel close to your breaking point, it’s high time to take action.

 

We are verbs, not nouns

In conversations with managers, I often hear people say something like “Well, I can’t help myself, that’s who I am, I’m” an engineer / a finance person / a lawyer, etc.

I share Stephen Fry’s consideration in The Guardian:

“We are not nouns, we are verbs.

I am not a thing – an actor, a writer – I am a person who does things – I write, I act – and I never know what I am going to do next.

I think you can be imprisoned if you think of yourself as a noun.”