maybe I'm wrong

Mental prompts to provoke thought and motivation. Every weekday.

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The Most Important Thing
What's the most important thing you could be doing?

Of course, it's unknowable. You might meet someone while walking the dog or going grocery shopping that will change your life.

Maybe the word important is where we should direct our focus. Maybe we conflate importance with business.

Maybe if we focused on what brought us value now, and is likely to bring us value tomorrow, we'll get closer.

Modes of Leadership
There are three operating modes of leading people who create.
Mode 1  says, “this is what I want and this is how you should do it.”

Mode 2 says “this is what I want, but you figure out how to do it.”

Mode 3 says “let’s figure out what we can do, together.”

Mode 1 fuels places like Fivver and Upwork. It’s an operating mode that’s shorthand for outsourcing one’s own (real or perceived) expertise. Execution is prioritized over creativity.
Mode 2 is the most diverse (and common) among organizations who manage 'skilled workers.' Decisions are made by one arm, and the other arm acts on it. Creativity,  tolerance, and/or pushback may be allowed.

Mode 3 is the most rare, and it's where the magic happens. It’s why game changing groups are founded by folks with diverse and/or rare skillsets. The fear of asking producers to innovate is that they may not stretch the boundaries beyond their experience. More often, though, is that they know where to find gaps in systems where everybody else is being told what to do. They know which corners should be cut, and which shouldn't.

Most importantly, they might just know where those gaps fit into the future.

How do they see me?
Sometimes we have a lot of control over how others see us - we can meet them, we can talk - we can develop a connection built on trust and nuance.

Other times we don't have control. We are a photo or video or snippet or idea in someone's mind, filtered by bias and imagination.

Maybe the energy we spend worrying about the second group could be better spent on the first. Maybe if the people close to you respect you, the folks far away can't possibly have it right.

Job Hunt (Haiku)
Don't you want a job?
Show me your experience.
I have none, do you?
Repeating Towers
Culture shifts as ideas proliferate. Some ideas spread, and some don't. Some ideas are at the right place at the right time. Whether an idea is good, noble, toxic, or dangerous isn't relevant to it's likelihood to proliferate - it's something else.

Maybe it's us.

Because culture doesn't spread without humans to spread it (and the stories associated with it). Maybe we all act like cultural repeating towers, some with signal that reaches further than others. Maybe the culture we choose to engage in amplifies the transmission.

It isn't perfect
That thing you've been working on - the thing that isn't quite there yet - the thing that isn't quite perfect. The truth is, it'll never be perfect.

And once you spent the next few weeks tweaking it, you'll find more imperfections. Of course, if everyone waited for something to be perfect before showing it to the world, nothing would exist.

Maybe waiting for perfection isn't really what you're doing. Maybe waiting for perfection gives you an out - a way to hide from the fear of what people might think.

Maybe if the world doesn't like what you make, you'll still be ok. Maybe if you don't get the audience you were after, you'll survive.

Maybe it'll be fine.
Us vs Them
It's a framework that we've likely used since the beginning of humanity. It's convenient because it condenses everything into absolutes. We are good, they are bad.

As our tribes have grown, the vectors through which we label and categorize people become more complicated, but we still try to work it around this simple idea - us vs. them. The groups, the tribes, the teams, can't possibly define others in a realistic manner - but we keep with it, because it's easy.

Maybe if we changed some of the vocabulary we could get past the divides. What would happen if the language about groups removed race, gender, incomes, job titles, political parties, etc.? How exactly would we define who the others are?

Maybe it would get too complicated. But maybe, it would force us to evaluate others through a more nuanced lens. After all, you're a them to someone.
Do your best
Every day, a little better than the day before. It's really all anyone can expect.
Job Titles
Who are you? What do you do?

I'm a teacher. I'm a software engineer. I'm a founder. I'm a marketer. I'm a janitor. I'm a comedian.

It's how we introduce ourselves in many parts of the world. I am someone who does a very specific job. The subtext is that our identities are wrapped in the functions we perform, and (more importantly) what the world expects from those functions. Nobody says I'm a parent or I'm a birdwatcher (at least not at first).

We run into problems when our functions get questioned. Sometimes they're questioned by society (are you a writer if you haven't sold a book? are you a founder if your company is failing?), or by others (I think teaching should be done like this, and you do it like that).

It gets us worked up, even if we don't think we care about the function, because it's seen as an insight of our external perception. What will people think of me? Am I a fraud? Do I have value?

Of course you do have value, even if you're terrible at your job. Maybe next time we meet someone, we should be asking other questions. Maybe we should rethink what labels we need to define each other.
Pain of Privilege
For most of human history, privilege, by it's very definition, allowed you to place yourself in a tower, far above uncomfortable truths. Recently, however, as the internet proliferates our culture, this structure begins to crumble.

Injustice in any form now has the world's stage. Maybe it's our culture, maybe it's the ad networks, or maybe it's human tendency - but we can't look away.

The result is that some are faced with realities that they never knew existed. Realities, which in any other past they would have easily avoided. Realities that continue to remind us that the world is imperfect, and we aren't doing enough to fix it.

On one hand, there are real problems everywhere. On the other hand, an individual's cognitive net has limits.

Maybe it's not possible to stay informed without internalizing the trauma-inducing headlines that pervade the morning news and the social feeds. Maybe it's better that we share a collective suffering.

Maybe avoiding excess, in all of it's forms, means putting restraints to the cross section of the things that negatively impact us and the things we have an impact on. Maybe we can't solve the world's problems, but we can use them as fuel to make our points of contact with the world a better place.
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