Each year, my partner and I choose one word each. These words combined will be our theme for the year, woven into the fabric of everything we do, and attracted by our thoughts and focus on them. Our words for 2021 are “kindness” and “positivity”.
This year, I decided to evolve our process, and externalize the meditation I do on these words, both to crystalize it for future, and to deeper explore the thought process. These will be streams of consciousness.
As a creative, I like to identify interesting combinations of thoughts, and believe there is a connected-ness to all things. Thus, two seemingly unrelated topics, thoughts, or items can be combined based on the ways in which they are the same, and which they are different. Finding the common ground between two things, to my mind, is the definition of creativity. To this end, two experiences come to mind which I’d like to connect, under the banner of introducing an “open source” approach to things.
By definition, “open source” implies that the source code of a piece of software is visible to those who use the software. Thus, depending on the license the software is released through, the code can be tweaked and modified by the end user, to meet a new need. Open source software is often also developed in the open, which fosters a culture of transparency, collaboration, and trust between those using the software, who are often also the developers of the same. Two ideas in particular resonate for me, when considering open source; the considerations to be made during the development of the software, and the transparency and openness around sharing of ideas, concepts, and approaches.
It seems to be that there are themes and patterns across several areas of life at the same time. What is seen as a recurrence in one area of life seems to come up in others. I’ve noticed this for several months, and this time around the concept of “identifying root causes” is coming up. I’m seeing a gaps which I believe a root cause analysis would fill, as well as sustainable results that would be created as a result of a proper root cause analysis.
Not to belabour what is most likely quite clear, a root cause analysis is the concept of diving deeper below the surface when presented with a circumstance/problem, and identifying the genesis of that circumstance, with the intention to resolve it. This would then prevent the knock-on affects of that root cause, thereby resolving the entire chain of circumstances from the bottom up, rather than from the top (surface issue) down.
Root cause analysis is extremely important in an engineering or product context. When something happens which affects the user of a particular piece of software, it is often more beneficial to identify the root cause and resolve that, instead of resolving the surface-level concern. This is true outside of engineering and product, as well.
There are several techniques one can apply to identify a root cause. One popular technique is the “5-why”. When presented with a statement, ask “why”. When presented with the response to that question, ask “why” again, and so on. Within 5 iterations of “why”, the root cause should at least become evident.
One such opportunity for identifying and addressing root causes came about recently, with the closure of my beloved primary school.
There is an interesting tension for me, between creating something new, and consuming something which exists. I find this in email (the emails I send, versus the emails I read), blog posts (those I write, versus those I read), and in many other areas such as todo list items, code pull requests, etc. The principle applies almost everywhere. Creation versus consumption. Are these two sides of the same coin? Are they independent, and being grouped together by sheer chance? What is the net affect of going in one direction or the other? Ultimately, the driver behind this search is searching for opportunities to quiet and clear the mind, be it of ideas for creation, or the need and desire for consumption.
I hypothesize that we exist between these two states of creation and consumption at different moments in our day. I find I like to create in the mornings, and consume in the afternoons. Often, I end up not fully being aware of this, and split my day between switching between these two paradigms throughout the day. There is surely a net affect there, even if purely from the context switching.
I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about different ways of thinking and focus, the impact potential of a particular focus, and how even the smallest change/adjustment can have a significant impact upstream. Examples which come to mind are how rowing teams all row together, optimize each row, and work as a team to balance on another out. The same can be said for cycling teams who rotate who rides in the slipstream to catch their breath.
These are all wonderful references and ideas, but how do they translate into a more generalized concept? The phrase I’ve been using is “atomic thinking”; thinking of the smallest possible independent pieces. Even the smallest adjustment can have a significant impact, without being dependent on other change to happen.
I take a great interest in exploring different schools of thought, different approaches to the same circumstances, and exploring ways to attempt to understand the mind and how we approach the world we live in. Along the same lines as an introduction to self-coaching, I’ve been exploring stoicism.
When growing a team, implementing new processes, or even when scoping a new project where you feel you have a clear outcome you’d like to see, it can be so tempting to tell yourself that you “just wish the team could read your mind”, or that the team would just “know how to follow the process” or “know what to look for during code review”. The part that’s often left off of these thoughts is “without me needing to explain it”, which is often the starting point for where our thinking falls short. Turning your team into mind readers is very possible, though. Lets unpack how. Spoilers; it starts with you.
A real revolutionary fights for what is right, but brings in love and light. A real revolutionary, is peaceful and non-violent, but strong and potent. A real revolutionary is a soul rebel, unconquerable.
The above words from Gregory G Ras have been reminding me of what’s important to remember during times like these we’re experiencing now. How to be, and how to remain strong and focused on a clear goal and desired outcome.
I find, especially in this age of information, it’s so important to focus on what information we choose to adopt and to process for ourselves. For me, this is particularly important through music, which I consume a lot of every day. With news outlets being a big focus during these complex times, a balance of what information/energy we choose to take on for ourselves is now more important than ever.
During these times where many of us are on a lockdown, with our physical movement heavily restricted, it’s very easy and tempting to fall back to feelings and messages of weakness, powerlessness, and fear. One of the byproducts of all of this restriction, naturally, is fear.
I find there are two core “rules” or “guidelines” I see myself reminding myself and those around me of regularly, which are among the longer list of what I’ll refer to as “guidelines for peaceful co-existence”. These are some base principles which, when applied, can lead to reduced internal worry/struggle, and a generally more peaceful outlook towards external stimulus. These also work hand in hand with the approach to self-coaching I shared previously.
“One cannot control another person, and other people cannot control us”
“Everyone out there, including oneself, can do anything one wishes to do”
In short, stop trying to control others, and don’t let others control you. Even though all actions have consequences, there is nothing stopping anyone from doing exactly whatever they want, whenever they want.
Coaching is something that one can spend one’s entire life trying to understand in new and different ways. Each person experiences coaching differently, whether or not they’ve ever actually been coached. Someone who says “I don’t need coaching” has experienced coaching, without actually being coached.
A coach is a person who is available to hear what’s on your mind, and to be a sounding board to help you to work through your own thoughts and feelings about something. The coach isn’t there to solve your problems for you. This, I believe, is a fundamental understanding one has to embrace when discussing coaching.
What happens when my coach isn’t available? How do I work through what’s on my mind? Enter self-coaching.