Wrap Up Wednesday
Week 3.5: Validation. This is the primary adjective summarizing the last couple of weeks. It has been Shinkansen-ly energizing, inspiring, and laborious. There are too many dimensions at the moment I feel stretched by; one of which is self-management. Divergence requires another reserve of energy. There are six ideas in draft form waiting to be told, fanned by the experiences and people I have had the privilege to get to know on this journey. Where to begin!
Leadership. "I believe the best managers acknowledge and make room for what they don't know - not just because humility is a virtue but because until one drops that mindset the most striking breakthroughs cannot occur... Moreover, successful leaders embrace the reality that their models may be wrong or incomplete. Only when we admit we don't know can we ever hope to learn it." (An excerpt from Creativity, Inc.)
Trawling through Quora a while back it seems that most high IQ folks conclude that their keys to optimizing life are hardwork and good comms. Some called it social skills. Those who cannot bear the frustration often retreat in an Aristotalian fashion. Then think of the variability of characteristics on a larger scale of group diversity, compounded with environmental factors, like a group of astronauts on a multi-year mission. The PCM model was used by NASA in the late 1970s for a couple of decades to hire their astronauts. Since this isn't the point, there will be another post on this later. Whilst seeing PCM in action for a working group earlier last week made me realize how much balls it requires a leadership team to employ this model. Like most team initiatives, ownership and buy-in from the proverbial top is incredibly important for it to work. But sustained reinforcement is difficult, usually followed up by maintenance sessions which are fairly lighthearted, sometimes never; just the monthly gallivant to the local watering hole is lazy.
Without going into too much detail - it's 2.30am and six hours until a networking breakfast 💀, more later - the difference in level of commitment like the pig vs chicken to a ham and egg breakfast are these:
1 Ball. Upfront cost of time. Not crazy, but two days is a serious amount of time when everyone is under the kosh, running risk of backfire if the team did not find value. Not specific to PCM, but assume scepticism positively correlated to time eaten.
2 Balls. Complex content. The workshops were robust and packed. The model like most are codified and the long term upside is working with a team who have developed deeply empathetic references points which make abstract and tacit work situations a matter of cultural code. Granular in quality, I might add.
5 Balls. Listening and not talking over. In other words, creating a safe environment of trust. If you want to know your business and its people, they need to know you won't break the mirror if you see something about yourself you don't like. Five balls because this goes against the genetic make up of most business leaders, who can't help themselves most of the time but default to what they know.
6 Balls. Opening up and holding back. Putting yourself in a place of vulnerability because the PCM opens up a lot about you, and bet there is more to know beyond those couple of days. This is the cost to acquire the empathy required to build a great team and business. You mutually trust that this knowledge will not be abused, and also set an expectation holding yourself responsible for things that did not work before are, from now, on track for change.
"To ensure quality... To create a culture in which this was possible... I saw that by putting people first - not just saying that we did, but by proving that we did by the actions we took - we were protecting that culture." (Yes, this is my current read - Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull)
All that to say, kudos to ballsy leadership and an amazing team. Validation is jumping onto a new train that led me (and keeps leading me) to super awesome friends who dent the world by doing the difficult, right thing.
😑 And now it's quarter to three.
The Future is Now. Landed in Barcelona the next day to catch the tail end of an Innovation and Futures Thinking course run by fun (yes, fun) and awesome friends. Made new friends, the student group was eclectic by age, backgrounds, expectations. And I had the best time being different boards to different groups: shooting a video for The Better World (a digical welcome pack for networkers that integrated their physical and digital assets, networks and identity), and helping a couple of other groups with content, and dynamics. Loved every second. So much more to unpack, and can't wait for more to unfold here.
Crystal Clr. Flight was delayed into London and after a series of misfortunate events, getting lost on the way to pick up when my phone battery gave up, I finally got in and up the next day for a visual thinking workshop at @thnkclrly. Again, more on that later and so much in between to share. Unrelated, a friend is running a network visualisation project with one of the aims of exploring network resilience. Related, this was a perfect example of network resilience in action. Looking around the room, there was a make up of folks taking offline second degree connections, and like Meribel (the annual retreat my previous employer organised for its ecosystem), immediately the level of resonance amongst the group of strangers was better than the average meet up. It was also facilitated extremely well, very quickly anchoring the workshop in a degree of empathy that unlocked a higher quality of group learning. It inspired an idea for a friend who is starting a video presentation platform - the YouTube network effect is exemplary of this kind of resilience, and I cite WongFu Productions & friends. Those who know them will know what I mean. Aside, I need to blog about them one day. Back to the visual thinking workshop, there is so much more to share which is coming soon.
Better than dating. Dinner with my awe-inspiring mentor on Monday evening. It deserves another post.
Broken Model. Now the question I am about to pay someone to help me answer is, how do I break this model before it breaks me. Given, I caught three hours of sleep because my AirBnB host decided to get into a terrifying domestic with her partner before 7am after having a very long and loud chat with him until 3am. I still don't know if I want to leave the scathing review but live with the guilt of pushing someone when they are already down. (When I checked, she replied that she was safe, she was leaning back and smoking one, very relaxed, with a bandaid on her forehead!! Her partner was there and stopped to let me speak to her - it didn't seem like the first time, and for those who know PCM lingo, my Persister was kicking into high gear. How anyone finds it acceptable for a man to yell at a woman for any occasion is beyond me. And vice versa.)
My creative juices flow after midnight in the quiet of my room, and strangely on mobile. All my posts have been created through furious tapping and a grasp that is turning my hands into stiff claws. But on top of long days of creating the website, crack Project Cerebro, which its founder has kindly offered to help with pro bono 💃🏻, meeting awesome people who are validating my journey, it is proving difficult to find my groove. The worst days are the ones where I choose to be kind to myself enough to work at home, giving myself an "anytime" start which has somehow been translated into 6am finishes. The erratic patterns are making me more tired, less creative and organised, more irritable and like my best friend puts it: "you look like you've been punched."
Oh yes, I forget that a couple of late nights have been busy packing up. I move Monday I think and hope!
3.45am. I resolve to make tomorrow's networking breakfast.
And there are now 10 posts-to-be in queue.