Theme song: Slow Dawn

Week ending 2019.06.30

IN THIS WEEKNOTE:

1. Identity = Activity
1.1. Reasons to let who you are determine what you do
1.2. Scanner/Multipassionate/Multipotentialite/Renaissance Soul
1.3. User Manual for Working with Me and Buying from Me
1.4. Value-Driven Productivity

2.  Activity = Scale
2.1 Microbusinesses/Microprojects
2.1.1. Micro challenge
2.1.2. Micro branding
2.1.3. Microbalancing business and a career

2.2. The problem with scaling problems

3. Scale = Pace
3.1. Cocooning
3.2. Embracing an all-seasons self
3.3. Implementing an ebb and flow notification system

4. Pace = Connections
4.1. Commonplace Book

5. Input
6. Output
7. Playlist

#1 Identity = Activity

This is a no-brainer, but judging by the way we live our lives on other people’s terms, clearly not. Who you are informs what you do. We try really, really hard to fit round pegs into square holes. Since we’re rubbery and not chunky blocks of wood, we fit. But it’s not a perfect fit, because it’s not our natural shape. We’re chronically bent out of shape. Put us in our natural environment and there’s no effort required on our part. The excess energy we waste trying to mould ourselves into an unnatural position is freed up, and suddenly we start living the life of our dreams.

Reasons to let who you are determine what you do:

  1. You’re a fish in water. This is your natural habit. It’s where you belong without having to bat an eyelid to make it so.
  2. You’re authentic – no need to wear a mask or force yourself to do things you don’t want to do.
  3. You don’t get emotionally tired or spiritually drained. You’re not wasting energy on inner battles with yourself or outward pretense. You’re freed up. And that makes you energetic. Light. You hit the ground running, and you keep up the pace.
  4. You are where you want to be. Every day is dreams-come-true making day, cos this is what you dream about. 
  5. You’re happy. Genuinely. The deep, real type. You don’t need stuff or people to make you so – being true to who you are does the trick. Therefore, you’re content. At peace. And that’s the best place to be.

Scanner / Multipassionate / Multipotentialite / Renaissance Soul

(How like us to have a whole collection of terms for the same thing 😂) I’m reading Refuse to Choose!: Use All of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create the Life and Career of Your Dreams, written by Barbara Sher all the way back in 2006. But her topic is as relevant today as it was 13 years ago. 

If you’re a Scanner, you may have gone in for some kind of abilities testing only to find that you scored high in almost every category. Career counselors aren’t trained to handle that outcome. So far, the best advice you’ve been given has probably been, “You can do anything. Just choose one of your talents and get started.”

That was also the worst advice.

They might as well have said, “We can’t help you at all,” because Scanners can’t choose. And now you’re learning something most of your career guidance people do not know: Scanners aren’t supposed to choose.

Barbara Sher

I’ve been fighting my Scanner nature for a long time, because it’s, quite frankly, exhausting. I talked about the paradox of choice in last week’s weeknotes, and how having only 24 hours in a day feels like a life typified by loss. We live in a culture where people are not allowed to dabble – at least not past a certain age. There’s a time for play and then you have to suit up and get serious. My resume – which does not include everything I’ve done (not by a long shot) – is a hot mess if you’re a recruiter. I’ve been everywhere, done everything. This, in their eyes, doesn’t make me a (specialised) generalist who brings a wealth of experience and skill to the table. Instead, I’m labelled a job hopper. A flight risk.

This is the curse of being a Scanner. We’re not celebrated. We’re vilified. And then we go and internalise that shit. But just as we’re reclaiming every other nature that institutions have hijacked (our gender, race, sexuality, neurodiversity, belief systems, yada yada), we owe it to ourselves to realise that we’re *perfectly* ok, and also *perfectly* suited for jobs and lifestyles that celebrate and revere our strong suits.

Scandalously generalising, I’m going to postulate that Multipotentialites have a unique style of thinking and working that’s in direct opposition to what I’m naming the Project Manager-style. (This is not to say that Multipassionates can’t be project managers – I’m separating the cognitive style from the job title here.)

No project managers were harmed during the production of this analogy

User Manual for Working with Me and Buying from Me

I was crazy inspired after reading Cassie Robinson’s User Manual for Me (thanks to Ian Ames for linking to this in his weeknote). Since I’m Ms. Personal Mythology, I had to put an archetypal spin on it. I’ve been racking my brain for a while figuring out how to do business in a post-consumerism world (the world’s not there yet but as a recovering marketeer, I sure am). This has been one of the predominant themes swirling around in my head for a while, but branding myself has always been an issue, cos (see #1) who do I say I am when I’m So Many Things?

This is definitely something I’d like to flesh out, but for now, here’s me in a nutshell. If you work with me or buy from me, this is what you get. (Yes, naturally I have more archetypes singing songs inside my head and naturally I had a hell of a hard time choosing just four. But YOLO.)

What you get for dealing with me. The good stuff, anyway.

Value-Driven Productivity

It struck me this week that the only way to save my to-do list from All the Things is to group items together. Not by project, not by task duration or deadlines, but by values. Values have big hearts. There’s a lot of room, and no one’s shown the door. But values themselves have an inherent hierarchy that tops all other hierarchies. How do you decide what fits where in the Eisenhower Decision Matrix when your Q2 (Important, Not Urgent) list is itself a mile long? 

It’s on my endless to-do list to take this concept to my Deep Thinking Spot. Note to self: Watch this space.

#2 Activity = Scale

I’m still exploring the Work and/vs Life realm (see last week’s Weeknotes). Puzzle pieces continue to gravitate towards each other, and this week a few new nuances have been added.

A) MICROBUSINESSES / MICROPROJECTS

I can’t recall where I first came across this concept, but ever since I did, I’ve been enthralled. I’d say obsessed, but Squirrel! There’s been too many other things happen, so I’m kinda slow boiling this idea. Clearly, if you’re a Scanner, what you need is to tick as many (small) boxes as you need as opposed to one big one. This is basic math, but where I’ve been stuck on this is that I had a total blind spot. My idea of “business” has always been an all-consuming one. (I have the burnout to show for it.) Even though I’ve always micro’d a lot of things that I never *thought of* as being a business cos as per my archaic definition they were too small to qualify. So that’s one cognitive glass ceiling lifted.

Micro Challenge

During a completely unrelated search, I came across software engineer Nat Welch’s 100:10:01 project, #tenbysix. I should say rediscover, cos being the internet addict that I am, I did read about this in 2016. At that time, though, I was still in the corporate jungle wrestling pythons wearing ties. The horror of having to execute ten additional projects must’ve horrified me. His post-challenge reflection reminds me it’s progress I’m after, not perfection.

Micro Branding

In true synchronistic fashion, one of my favourite online business people just rebranded her business community for multipassionates. Naima is one of few truly authentic entrepreneurs I know, and she’s a powerhouse when it comes to branding yourself and your biz. So I’m loving this confluence of focus we have, because she’s full of answers right when I’m full of questions. She’s introduced me to the concept “micro funnels”, which turns a marketing activity I’ve come to loathe (too much inbound everything over the past eight years) into a fun mini-project.

A resource I’m loving is her Microsite Brand and Biz Planner. Naima is a fellow multipassionista, and she’s known for many different things in many different circles. One of these is being the Queen of Trello (which is how we met), and this being a business ‘board game’ right on Trello is about as geekfest as it’s gotten for me this week.

Microbalancing Business and a Career

Thanks to Lily Spek’s weeknote talking about the FOMO Sapiens podcast, I discovered the book written by host Patrick McGinnis. Titled The 10% Entrepreneur: Live Your Dream Without Quitting Your Day Job, it’s another spin on micro’ing your way through life. I’ve only just started and we’re polar opposites (I’ve always feared the complacency of staying in a job, not the risk of quitting one), but this quote on the gilded myth of entrepreneurship caught my eye:

Thanks to a combination of creativity and chutzpah, the people responsible for Entrepreneurship, Inc., have done a remarkable job of productizing and branding a human endeavor that has far more to do with hard work than with glamour. As a result, society has embraced a distorted and romanticized notion of what it means to build a business from the ground up. The entrepreneurship-industrial complex knows that showing the real nature of starting a company is lousy  product positioning, and telling people to work harder isn’t alluring. The truth is that entrepreneurship is an all-consuming career choice, and unless you are a masochist, there is nothing particularly romantic about failing over and over again until you find the right formula. 

It doesn’t help that companies themselves muddy the water through their origin stories. It seems like every new venture was dreamed up in a garage, a dorm room, or while contemplating the sunset from a beach in Thailand. Telling those origin stories is far more inspiring than admitting that you came up with your startup idea while sitting in a poorly lit cubicle somewhere in Ohio. 

Patrick McGinnis

B) THE PROBLEM WITH SCALING PROBLEMS

The other scale-related topic that passe through my grey matter this week was how to problem-solve. With a background in psychology and counselling, I’m very much a get-right-to-the-nucleus kinda gal. It’s *why* I have a background in psychology and counselling. I’ve been problem-solving and root cause diving all my life. But that’s meant that I find brand positioning quite challenging. People are concerned with surface problems, mostly because they’re by and large unaware of what their core issues are. So I’ve been doing it inside out all along. 

Next week I’ll dip into the 5W&H problem-solving brand positioning I’ve come up with, and how to stratify this across priority levels. I haven’t done more than a brief thought experiment myself so will invest some time in it this coming week.

#3 Scale = Pace

COCOONING

In using weekly place markers, I’m able to gauge how I’m doing – or rather, where I’m doing – from week to week. Last week was Week of the Butterfly. (I haven’t gotten round to doing a post of what these qualifiers mean, but I selected them to be rather self-explanatory – yay for shared meaning.) This week was…the Week of the Upside Down Butterfly. Which seemed quite urgh at first. But then I started unpacking it. And now I can see the coolest follow-up to sporting new wings is to climb back inside your cocoon for a while. Or egg, if you’re so inclined.

What came first, the chicken or the egg?

We’re hyper about self-improvement, self-healing, self-anything that means we’re happier and better off than we were yesterday. But that’s not how this works. Zoologists, correctly me if I’m wrong, but we’re just about the messiest species on earth. Not (just) because we play (trash) god by hydraforming plastic into oceanic islands. We go back and forth between being ok and not ok *all the time*. There’s nothing Five Steps about us. We can theorise all we like (cos who doesn’t love a neat five-step diagram), but we’re as unpredictable as anything. Sometimes we laugh at funerals and cry during sex. There’s just no telling what we’ll get up to next. 

Where we mess things up is by believing that there’s a right and a wrong way. Butterflies should be upright, otherwise they’re bats. And we don’t like bats. They’re too shadowy. Not fit for the ‘gram. No one should know we’re human. Since no one else is (they were all replaced by humanoid robots fresh out of the fashion and business sections of a glossy a few years ago), we have to pretend we’re one of them. One-dimensional. Perpendicular. Contracted. Flat.

EMBRACING AN ALL-SEASONS SELF

Since this week was spent cocooned upside down, I naturally felt a bit peculiar. It was hard work to convince myself that I’m not *down*, I’m just not sunny. Cos there’s a big difference. In our quest for self-transformation we’re forgetting to be centred in self. Self is multifaceted. Self is all things, not just smiley things. The Bujo community likes using weather symbols as mood trackers. A sun is a good day. A rainstorm, by contrast, isn’t. But in real-life, most of us welcome rain. The earth certainly does. We recognise that without all four seasons and the skies in all its manifestations, we’d be in trouble. You don’t have to look far to substantiate this analogy. We’re already seeing watershed news reports about globally significant topics like water shortages.

The Thinking Fast, Acting Slow approach I dove into last week has evolved into the concept of a Rock Pool Life. But since I have enough water-based analogies for one day, I’ll bookmark this one for the next edition. (The fact that I keep prebooking what I’ll be writing about at the end of a week that doesn’t even exist yet is a loophole I’ll have to investigate.)

IMPLEMENTING AN EBB AND FLOW NOTIFICATION SYSTEM

I always find it so verbalise to friends why I haven’t been returning their calls or arranging to hang out with them when I said I would. Any attempts usually turns into a 30,000-word explanation during which I try and explain where I’m at and what I’m busy processing. (I’m so frigging totally an introvert.) So now I’ve come up with a very simplistic system. I’m either in Ebb or in Flow. Ebb equals introspection and during that period I really can’t people. It’s like the function has been deactivated or put into password-controlled sleep mode. And I don’t have the password. Being in Flow says I’m teeming with life and all the energy and enthusiasm they know me for.

This’ll also be a handy gauge stick for me to understand why I’m ebbing when the invisible schedule in my head my perfectionist keeps to demands I flow. Or why I flow when – ok, I can’t think of a counterexample right now. I’m totally ebbing as we speak. 

Of course, explaining my new simplified system will probably end up being a 30,000-word explanation in itself. That’ll teach them for not reading my Weeknotes.

#4 Connections

BE A SEA TURTLE

Sea turtles do their own thing. There’s no herd mentality. They’re out there in the big wide sea, doing turtle things. However, they’re no one-turtle island. When they have a goal, they know there’s strength in numbers. They swim together to reach their nesting grounds. They mate. When there’s an abundance, they feed together. 

The problem is that a lot of us are Jonathan Livingston Seagulls in our immediate communities. The people around us bicker and squabble, living in survival mode. We, on the other hand, want to soar. I’ve been trapped in the Facebook loop for a while. I was off for a long time, got lured into going back on, and since then I’ve been drowning in slowsand. Scrolling down mindlessly, at the mercy of the Zuckerberg Algorithm, a self-inflicted victim of mundanity. Cerebral posts, 3 likes. Selfies, 300. 

In Breaking Free from the Facebook Prison Experiment, something I wrote – oh, look, *a whole year ago* – I pledged to start replacing rolling my finger down the page with running mindfulness through my head. Success rate? Let’s not go there.

The fact is, most things in life – done in excess – is this one big interconnected addiction. Domingo Cullen wrote a candid piece about his YouTube addiction. The internet is one of the most socially-accepted addictions there are. Cos the addiction itself is social. Problem is, it’s seagull social.

To suckerpunch an addiction, you have to restock the hole it fills with something else. A healthy alternative. In the case of seagull social, it calls for a turtle tribe. So I’ve been replacing my Facebook dependency by getting into groups I was in before falling into Zuckernet’s claws. Cerebral posts, 3,000. Selfies, 0,000.

COMMONPLACE BOOK

I have a content problem. There’s too damn much of it. I subscribe to Seneca’s idea of combatorial creativity, Einstein’s combinatory play, Julia Cameron’s filling the well, Maria Popova’s networked knowledge, Austin Kleon’s steal like an artist.

But unless you have a system that not only captures but allow you to make connections by revisiting things that caught your attention yesterday or ten years ago, it all falls flat. Seneca and co knew this back when there was no steady stream of internet content to cause brain pain, hence the so-called commonplace book. Authors like Robert Greene and Ryan Holiday use it to crack out fantastic content that contributes to my growing content pile. Unless we employ some form of heuristic routing, we might as well be collecting inked or electronic dust.

My note-taking practice is an idea incubator – it needs a healthy remix-production system

“Heuristic routing is achieved using specific algorithms to determine a better, although not always optimal, path to a destination.” (via Wikipedia) Speaking of Austin Kleon, my ProWritingAid software recently acted as my combatorial creativity partner: A fascinating example of how artificial intelligence is rising up to meet us. In future, my notebooks might be making creative connections right alongside me.

Most people love Evernote. Since I’ve been abusing it as a brain dumpsite for too many years, mine’s a hot mess. There’s everything in there. It would make for a fascinating dive site if someone ever wanted to write a book about my mind, but it’s not mind-friendly. So I’ve been using WordPress (I keep a private blog for these eyes only) to capture whatever catches fancy, but that’s just bringing a knife to a gun fight.

So I went back to my roots and got into Microsoft’s OneNote again. It’s not as jazzy as Evernote, but to be honest, I hardly use any of the cool kid’s features. Comparatively, search sucks. But my note-taking system is its own Dewey, already primed for creating connections, so search isn’t a concern. Time will tell how effective this’ll be. For now, I’m with Marie Prokopets – OneNote for the win. For my needs, anyway.

My OneNote notebook structure

<Sending out a shooting prayer to the tech gods to create a product with an Evernote UX and OneNote UI 🙏>

On that, uh, note, Hiten Shah has an interesting write-up on why Evernote hasn’t lived up to its potential. Microsoft, by contrast, was born to fail us – can’t be disappointed if you had no expectations.

#5 INPUT

This wasn’t a big reading week. Too much else going on. I finished only two books.

#1
One was by Patricia McCormick, the author of I Am Malala. Sold, published in 2010, is a fictional portrayal of human trafficking and sex slavery). It’s a powerful narrative about a harrowing subject, poetically told. It was made into a film, which I haven’t seen. My only point of contention was its white savior narrative, something McCormick said retrospectively she’d have changed if she could.

#2
Oms en série (translation published as Fantastic Planet), a 1957 sci-fi book written by Stephen Wul (later adapted into the animated feature film La Planète sauvage (Fantastic Planet) in the 70s, about homo sapiens bred as pets on an alien world.

A comic book series featuring art by American comic book artist Mike Hawthorne (of Marvel fame) was released in France last year.

#6 OUTPUT

No public writing this week.

#7 PLAYLIST

Featured image by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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