Tag: sharing

Working Together

Last night I spoke at Web Directions' excellent and low-key What Do You Know (Melbourne).

This was the second of their small-scale events, designed as a launchpad for local speakers to test talk concepts in front of an audience, in preparation for a possible slot at the October event, held in Sydney's Luna Park.

I spoke about learning to be ignorant, which I think is an important step on the road to empathy.

The real delight for me, though, is seeing what other people share from the stage. Looking at their workflows, the small hacks they employ to make their lives a little better, the new technologies that they get excited about: it's the only time I hear people being optimistic about their jobs. It's uplifting. The optimism spreads through the room.

Last night I learnt more about ES6 and JavaScript Promises, and I was introduced to things I wasn't even aware of before like React, Ember and Pact.

It's just a joy to see people work with something they love and then to want to share it and get others excited.

We're all just learning. Or we're all still learning. Either way, it's really nice to know that we're all in this together.

Other People’s Success

This morning, at Creative Mornings, Poppy and Scott (from the Pop & Scott Workshop) spoke about collaboration.

They spoke with the easy-going style of the Australian surf/skate community that just makes things work and no obstacle is too grand. In other words, they are so different to so many people we come across in the creative community. It was a delight.

One of the things they mentioned was celebrating other people's success. I think this is something many of us do poorly and I think it's an attitude I'm going to try to adopt.

Success happens through, not just hard work, but a little bit of luck as well. That means it's not entirely in their control, so be happy for them because their hard work is paying off.

If they don't work hard and they still somehow manage to be successful then my challenge will be working out how to be happy for them. I might need a little bit of luck in that department myself.

Starting with Yes

I say 'no' all the time.

Well, not all the time, but definitely too often. It's a problem but it's part of my job.

A lot of my job, which remains difficult to explain, is to work out whether or not a solution to a problem will work.

Solutions are not binary. They exist with nuances and, similarly, do not succeed or fail outright.

So why do I say "no" when a solution is presented to me and I can automatically see a problem?

When I respond with an instant negative it does a few things. One of them is to obviously display that I recognise an issue with the proposal. But another, and probably the more important, is that it offends the proposer.

By offending the proposed of the solution I'm reducing my chances of having her come to me with a future solution. I might also be making her question her own judgement in these matters. I might also just come out of the whole situation looking like a know-it-all arsehole.

I fear I have come across as a know-it-all arsehole too often in the past.

My intention with saying "no" is just to make people aware that there are more problems with this solution and that it's not good enough to move onto whatever the next stage is.

But what if I say "yes"? Can I be encouraging while also expressing the issues I have with the idea? Of course I can.

And yet I don't. I want to. It's a tough habit to break.

I want to start with "yes" and see where it gets me. It might take a bit longer, but maybe the solution we reach together, through a series of positive statements, is stronger than the one attacked with negativity to test its resilience.


There's no trick. There's no magic. It's all hard and the only thing that gets me through is hard work.

The terrifying monster that wants to stop me from achieving anything appears as a sense of burden, a feeling that nothing is ever achievable. It shows me video footage of Sisyphus with my face superimposed on his body, and then it laughs at me.

I only have one defence against this beast: Planning.

Actually there are two defences. The other one is resignation. It's a lot easier but much less satisfying.

Resignation doesn't keep me alive. Planning does.

Continue reading

How you’re doing it wrong.

I just wish we’d stop trying to project how we work onto others as a means of self justification of our own actions. If you discover a cool technique, by all means, please share it! But try to avoid presenting it as if it’s the only or best way to do things.

from Yaron Schoen's piece, 'Get off my lawn', published with Medium.

This is what I've been doing. And it's wrong. It's wrong for me to dictate from my keyboard how other people are working poorly and telling them how they could be improving.

But I do want to share more. I want to share a lot. Last year I discovered the joy of sharing how I work with people from the other side of the world. It was envigorating.

It's wrong of me though to keep giving people copies of "Getting Things Done" and expecting them to start developing their own system of todo lists that stops them being a disappointment to everyone.

It's wrong of me to tell people how to save files on their computer so they know how to find them again and don't have to call me when they've forgotten how to use their computer's search function.

It's wrong of me to explain that embarking on a project without planning a path to get to a goal is a surefire way of ending up lost and without any sense of achievement.

It's wrong of me to explain these things because everybody has a right to continue living their lives in the most infuriating way possible.

Meanwhile, I might just start sharing more about how I'm doing things and invite comments on what other people think. Can these things I do and the way I do them be improved? Have I discovered something that other people don't know?

Maybe we can share how we do things and learn to accept that we have different reasons for doing them the way that we do. Those reasons might include just a pure stubborness and refusal to see sense. But so what? Wouldn't that sense of self-awareness be the first step we're all looking for?