Say your wishes out loud.

In Spain, we call New Year’s Eve night – ‘noche vieja’, and as the night ebbs away, leaving seconds left of the year that was – you are meant to ‘quickly’ eat a grape for every second of the last 12 seconds of the year – making a wish for the new year with each grape. These 12 seconds are generally guided by a chime usually from any TV channel that is on.

Photo by Jerry Wang on Unsplash

You are reminded to keep your wish to yourself. Well – that’s the tradition.

This year – like most things in 2020, it didn’t quite go to plan.

I screwed up and ate all my grapes on the chimes that prepare for the actual chimes. (massive UX fail by the way – Canal Sur!!), so I didn’t actually get to make my wishes.

Lets each have 3 wishes…

So this morning, as my sons came for a morning cuddle, I announced we would get 3 wishes each and in turn say them out loud.

They had to be specific – because we wanted to give the Universe as much detail as possible. Also wishes for other people counted as double strength.

‘But aren’t we supposed to wish to ourselves?’, asked my son.

‘Yes’, I said – ‘but the Universe hears you better when you say it out loud’.

So we took turns saying out loud what we each wished for in this brand new year of 2021.

Why out loud?

Although this was all rather flippantly put together and spontaneous – it did get me thinking. Why have we been programmed to keep our wishes to ourselves?

From shooting stars to blowing out birthday cake – ‘don’t say it out loud or it won’t come true’.

Bollocks.

I believe in the power of human connections – networks of people who care about us personally and professionally. Networks that help its members get what they want – their wishes (within reason anyway).

By keeping our wishes quiet, we never activate the network and it becomes much less likely that those wishes ever happen. Serendipity never stood a chance!

Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

Not all wishes can come true. That is just the nature of wishes.
But most can.

So try this – say what you are wishing for and let the Universe of human connection help you.

And FYI…our wishes were, in no particular order…

  • a year of no conflict, no one having to flee their homeland
  • a year of good health and wellbeing for all our loved ones and for our older loved ones to not feel isolated and keep happy
  • make a whole bunch of money to buy a house and help the people we care about.
  • no disruption from covid

So there – it is now on the internuts and serendipity can get to work – the Universe reads blogs too ūüôā

Happy to hear your wishes and I will do what I can to help.

There is no ‘We the people’

There is a time between waking and rising. I find that time to be particularly full of insights and reflections.

Today – I have been pondering this ‘we, the people’ concept that is often used to justify election outcomes.

Democracy has become a popularity contest. I say ‘has become’ because I assume it wasn’t meant to be like this. Whether they are contests of ideas or personality or both, matters little – popularity contests are terrible way to pick leadership because they mostly attract those able to get the most claps.

But I digress.

After any election or referendum – there is a period when the news and the politicians use words to the effect of ‘the people have chosen’. In some cases, the ‘people’ also harp on about it is ‘the will of the people, ‘we voted and picked’.

In reality, there is no ‘we, the people’.
It implies some sort of deliberate collaboration towards common goals, but I can understand how the recipients of votes – the politicians – can see the electorate as a collaborating audience. Hence the difference in perspective.

When I go to a polling booth to cast a vote – I don’t do it as part of a carefully considered and coordinated effort with other voters. We haven’t weighed the arguments and made peace with our differences. There is no ‘We’. There is just me, acting on my current understanding – biases and blind spots and driven by my own sense of what is good for me and mine.

20 million people doing exactly the same thing in their own bubble is not an ‘us’. The country doesn’t get better by 20 million people each seeking their own selfish interest.

The ‘people’, the ‘electorate’, the ‘citizens’, ‘Britons’, ‘Americans’ are all collective terms that are generally meaningless to the individuals in they cover and mostly meaningful to the systems that need those collectives in their functioning. Those collective terms are used to justify decisions – give authority, even as though decisions hold terrible consequences for many of the individuals covered by the term.

What might happen if there was a ‘we’ – that ‘the people’ knew each other, debated and agreed on things that mattered to them and acted on their decisions in a coordinated way?

How might government with a ‘people’ that actually held them to account collectively, function?

I’m interested in building and using tech to enable true ‘we’ society and to close the gap between what is fantasy but dressed as reality and reality.

If you are too – then let’s chat.

Mike’s theory of arcs and angles

One goal, which path would you take?

Imagine you had a goal – perhaps to lose weight or to learn a skill, or even to build some capacity/capability as a person, team, company or country.

Lets call that goal ‘B’ and your starting point – now – is ‘A’.

The sharp angle path

Now imagine you did very little towards getting to ‘B’ until one day when ‘B’ stops being a nice-to-have and , instead, becomes a must-have. I call that day or the event triggering that realisation ‘a sharp turn event’.

So now you’re scrambling, stressing and enduring a massive disruption to everything so you can start heading towards ‘B’ and you needed to be there yesterday.

An example of a sharp turn event is cancer, a heart attack i.e it happens and to reduce the chances of it happening again or as severely – you start to eat better, exercise, cut out smoking and excessive drinking.

Other examples might be being mocked for being overweight or a global pandemic.

The arc path

Now imagine you are in exactly the same starting point and the goal remains unchanged. But instead of doing very little about getting to ‘B’, every day you did something tangible towards the goal and you kept the goal alive by checking if those things you did got you closer and adjusted as you went.

Sharp turn events are not entirely eradicated on this path, but their negative effects can be significantly reduced. You are already some way to the goal, you are on the path.

An example might losing your livelihood whilst pursuing a goal of saving for a home and choosing to live frugally whilst you were saving – being lean. Of course, it seems calamitous that you have lost your job – but given how you are living as you pursued the goal, you are in a better position to weather the disruption vs someone who lived extravagantly (even if they had the same goal as you!).

Arcs are softer but build habit and resilience.

Some thoughts on arcs and sharp angles…

  • Arcs require diligence and deliberate action to the goal – not huge steps, but small ones, consistently taken.
  • Sharp angle paths are easy – you don’t have to do anything but wish and occasionally lie to yourself and others that you are doing something.
  • The longer you leave a goal without working towards it, the sharper and more disruptive the turn. Sometimes, you can leave it too late you pass a point beyond which that exact goal is unattainable and you have to pick another that is within you then-current abilities. E.g. I want to buy a home in 2 years time. I need to save ‚ā¨50,000 for a deposit. The sooner I start the more likely I will be able to do it. If I leave it until, say, a month before I wanted to buy the home – I would have to find ‚ā¨50k in 1 month – an almost impossible task for most people not robbing banks. So maybe you now have to set a goal to buy a house in 5 years vs 2 or not buy at all.
  • Arcs require regular reflection and calibration that what you are doing is still valid towards the goal. You might even question if the goal is still valid.
  • Critically reviewing your goals can shine a light on what potential sharp turn events might happen. e.g. if my goal was to save ‚ā¨50k in 2 years, an obvious sharp turn event is that I could lose my job. That might lead me down the path of developing side gigs that build resilience to my finances.

In closing, I am no expert in this and I’m not selling any ‘improve your life’ crap. I am simply introspecting into events and paths in my life and things I see around me.

The coronavirus pandemic has shown us that many – if not all – countries have been fixated on either the wrong goals or have not acted in an arc way towards the right goals and we find ourselves in a sharp turn event where the world is mostly unprepared for massive unemployment coupled with a lack of digital tech for everything from government to education.

What are your thoughts on this theory? Please disagree with it and lets explore it further.

I have people

I have people who instantly make me smile.

Others who, as the interactions proceed, get me really irritated.

I have people who help me slow down and think deeply, questioning with respect and letting my spaghetti brain uncurl.

I have people who inspire with their very existence.

Then I have people who make me laugh and feel light.

Who are your people?

I'm loving: PomodoneApp

I’m terrible at focusing and single-flow discipline, so I tend to practice the¬†Pomodoro technique – which is about enforced habit of working for short, concentrated bursts, taking a short breaks and longer breaks after a number of work bursts.

I love not being focused and everywhere – I get to be curious and explore, finding interesting things, people and relationships –¬† but when I need to get stuff done, there’s nothing for it but to hunker down and FOCUS!

That’s when I am absolutely grateful for a fantastic little app called Pomodone App.

At it’s heart is a timer that works based on the Pomodoro technique.

Projects I’m working on, daily tasks, can be sourced and sync with a range of tools – from Trello to Evernote, Asana and more.

 

Three Reasons I love Pomodone App

#1: It is easy as pie

Right out of the box, it is set up to have a work cycle and cycles that follow the textbook technique.

I changed mine to 45 minute long pomodoros (basically the period you are focused on workd) and 5 minute breaks, with a longer 30 minute break after my 4th pomodoro.

You create your tasks (in my case, I get my tasks from Trello, more on this in the integrations bit). I also, occasionally, create local ones. Wherever you get your tasks from they are easily selectable to start working on.

#2: Notifications range from nice to naggy

You can set the reminder interval, when the clock isn’t ticking. To be honest the regular reminder really pulls me back from the weeds and helps me refocus on my list.

I used to have the reminders every 90 minutes and that was nice, but I found that I could get lost in other things – emails, chat, browsing and 90 minutes is a big chunk of time. So I set it 15. Now it is proper naggy!

Annoying as it might get – I don’t want to be timed all the time, so better the irritation than 2 hours going ‘poof’ on containerisation or AI or some other interest that is not immediately relevant to my delivery goal.

#3: It integrates with my work flow – perfectly

I use StoriesOnboard  Рand online tool for user story mapping, which I use for big picture business /strategic planning and Trello for more operational stuff.

Recently we started using Sentry to log any errors that happen on Decksender.com. Really cool that Sentry lets you create Trello cards for things that need resolution.

At my desk, all my tasks primarily from Trello and Pomodone App integrates just beautifully with that. When I start a task, it automatically moves it to the right ‘Doing’ list on Trello, recording on the card how much time has been spent on it and finally we when I’m done – it moves it to ‘Done’.

Now, I’m not ninja-level at managing my focus – where is the fun in that – but every now an again, the right mix of tools come round that really hit the sweet spot and PomodoneApp is the core of that sweet suite!

Try it out and let me know how you get on,  happy to answer any questions I can and even learn from how you use it.


Full Disclosure: I’m not paid or receive any payment or benefits for writing.

Photo by Shiva Smyth from Pexels

I Want to Help One Billion People Prioritise Their Happiness

A very bizarre set of events led me to discover Mo Gawdat and his movement onebillionhappy.

This highly inspiring man who could, by all accounts, be sitting in his wealth, isolated from everything that is going on in the world, is instead on an audacious mission to help ONE BILLION people figure out and focus on their happiness.

Not only for themselves, but to significantly shift the narrative we are all putting out into the world Рspecifically to shift  what data machines learn from.

I love this and I’m going to help.

What’s not to love? Help people prioritise and invest in their happiness leading to happier lives and help¬†a better world data stream that machines can learn from.
I’m in.

Over the next 3 months, I want to run an experiment:

I will invite 8 people to join a ~30 minute video call where we will explore what happiness means to each of us and how we each invest in it.

Each person invited commits to run another 8 person meetup – online or offline, in exactly the same way, discussing exactly the same topic. And so on.

If my math is right (it’s basically 8^10) and the plan works, in 10 weeks, over ONE BILLION people will have met. No repeats, no strain on organisers.

Just a simple 30 minute conversation.

Each person will have invested about 1 hour to create such an impact Р30 minutes as a guest, 30 minutes as a host.

Here is my simple projection:

Thank you for being willing to help with this experiment and if you would like to be included in the invitation, please comment below.

Bullies and Bluebells

I was recently in a dialogue with a client and the conversation turned to “Evil Scrum” and some previous negative experiences that some people had experienced.

They imposed velocity targets and demanded estimates a year in advance and then bashed people when those forecasts weren’t met

Now, I’m no big fan of Scrum or Kanban in the same way I’m no fan of the Catholic Church or any religious organisation. It’s not the tool that I object to per se – it is the commercial agenda and what it makes otherwise nice people do in order to profit from the tool.

However, I am deeply knowledgeable about Scrum and Kanban and the agile manifesto that broadly underpin the credentials of both as better ways to handle complex adaptive systems and work.

My response to the client group was this:

Even a bluebell could be used by a bully to bludgeon you to death.

Neither of these process frameworks advocate any kind of violence to anyone. But they provide the hooks by which the brutish minded can exact violence on some people.

There was consensus in the room that this misuse of process and power e.g. Evil Scrum (could as well be Evil Kanban / SAFe / LeSS / whatever – was often worse than no process.

So my assertion is that those who get what they want through bullying others will try it with whatever tool they can find. From process, to working conditions and contracts to , yes, even bluebells.

Do you agree or disagree?

 

Lessons from a #LinkyBrains event no one else came to

The LinkyBrains movement is purely accidental. It has gained and is gaining momentum primarily through small groups of people meeting to have coffee, some lunch or just a walk. What brings them together is the idea of different mindsets, curiosity, meeting kindred spirits – whatever.

Messy.Pexels / Pixabay

These ‘coffees’ are shabby-chic. There is often no structure, no theme (beyond being Linky). They are just people with pretty broad common ground, holding space to give their linkyness a chance to conenct. They are nicely messy and vague.

They are also super easy to setup. This is deliberate – the easier and lower risk something is, the likelier it is that the hesitant will try it.

 

But there is risk. People might simply not come. What happens then?

Here are three lessons I learnt from that experience.

Risk very little

Reduce what you could lose. The only real things at stake here were time and money.

It took me all of 10 minutes to find a location that was central, create the event on Doodle and share it on my channels. That’s almost no time at all.

I didn’t book a table at a posh restaurant. I hadn’t hauled post-its, markers and other collaboration tools. I certainly had not paid for anything. So, absolutely no money lost.

Of course, one could argue there was an opportunity cost – what are those things I could have done instead? Great question. I’ll get to that further down this page.

The only thing that stung in all this was my ego and any lesson that helps control that beast is worth almost any cost.

Be OK with no one coming

This was in Malaga, it’s not London or Berlin or Barcelona. LinkyBrains is new, the buzz has not been that well shared in Spain and certainly not in Malaga. Yet, two people had said they would come. My expectations were low, but not zero.

But no one showed up. When I prodded one of the people I was expecting, he apologised and said he was currently in the US!

I was disappointed. Even after 15 years of being involved in conferences, meetings, open space technology, lean coffees, world cafe and most kind of other formats for people getting together to collaborate. I was still disappointed no one showed up.

Then I remembered one of 4 principles I live by. They come from the Open Space Technology framework for running large group conversations

Openspace principles and law

Whoever comes are the right people

The openspace principles are designed to create psychological safety and the single law is a reminder of personal responsibility.

With mojito in hand and view of Malaga port, I quickly accepted that I was the ‘right people’ – this was precious time for me to ponder and converse with myself about neuro-diversity (the core of LinkyBrains) and to reflect on my collaborations in the space.

The two and half hours I spent were some of the most productive of the week. Headphones on:

  • I agreed a deal for some work and¬†got halfway through the Statement of Work draft for it,
  • had 3 chat conversations in parallel with some really cool people,
  • drafted three blog posts (including this one),
  • launched some features on the LinkyBrains.com site,
  • and wrote some code on my side project.

It was OK that no one came. I was there and that was all that ultimately all I could be responsible for.

Do it Better Next Time

When you are learning to ride a bike and you fall off , your instructor encourages you to get back on as quickly as you can – so that your bruised ego and sense of failure do not succeed in convincing you never to try again.

So I got back on. I booked the next event that same night and I’ll do it differently.

I’ll share more regularly leading up to it – via email and socially, in English and Spanish. I’ll prod colleagues and friends to prod their Malaga based friends to check it out.]

I’ll give luck a helping hand.

So – go ahead, if you are curious about LinkyBrains or simply want to get together with other LinkyBrained people, create an event – it will be fine, whatever happens.

Three thoughts on April 14.

I probably could have had a better, more clicky title.

Can the crowd save the world?

My wife and I had a BBQ today. It started out as my idea and it worked beautifully, the end, it was ‘our’ BBQ – everyone who attended.

At one point there were going to be 50 people coming to it – our friends their families.

Catering would be expensive for one person to shoulder. So we said –

bring some food for you all and a little extra for the table.

And that’s what everyone did – some folk brought more than a little and some brought less. But there was plenty for everyone without a strain on anyone.

Even better was lots of people offered to help with this and that, it became a group BBQ.¬† Very few of them knew each other and I didn’t know everyone that came either.

Might a model like this work for the world – could a simple thing like “do your weekly shop and spend 10% more towards the weekly¬† food needs for the homeless” transform localised food inequality?

What would happen if for every ‚ā¨10 spent to educate a child in the wealthiest countries, ‚ā¨1 was contributed to a practical, effecient fund to educate a child in the less wealthy countries.

You see where I’m going with this.

Should we be removing dents in the world instead?

I read this by Fred Destin and it made me think ‘dent in the world???’

It’s a reference to Steve Jobs’ famous ding / dent in the Universe quote

“We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?

Perhaps we aren’t here to put a dent in the Universe.

Perhaps the universe is already dented – blasted by human, environmental and ecological assault. Dents that lend to our World’s broken-ness.

Corruption, wealth inequality, man-made ecological and environmental destruction, slavery, the disconnection of humanity from itself all seem like major dents to me.

Perhaps we are each here to smooth out the dents or at the very least not make them worse?

Can we get to a new world by using the same thinking that got us to this one?

My friend Doug Scott and I chat alot about “Kansas has been destroyed”.

The ‘Kansas’ we mean is in reference to The Wizard of Oz – where Dorothy is swept away from Kansas by a powerful hurricane, and taken to the magical land of Oz and all she wants to do is get back to where she came.

Doug and I speak of a New ‘Oz’ like world, significantly different from this one (which is Kansas) – operates on radically different principles, structures and purpose.

I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that this world of the pursuit of unlimited growth, profit is entirely unsustainable, that a new world is possible and urgently required and the strongest possibility to create it is by discovering, connecting and empowering more #linkybrains in our population.

If you don’t know what a LinkyBrain is – go read this.

Now imagine a world with 100 Elon Musks (Elon, being as Linky as they come!), each working on 3 of the most pressing challenges facing our world, with the urgency, creativity  and resources of the Elon Musk we currently have.

Imagine 1000 or 10000 or 10 million Elon Musks.

But can we get their with the structures, language, rules, motivations and processes that we currently have?

What do you think?

10 Days into #LinkyBrains and this is what it's about for me.

10 mad days

It has been the maddest 10 days of my life and I’ve had plenty mad.

Time to reflect on this LinkyBrain thing – taking in all the feedback¬† that’s rolling in from chats, blog posts and spontaneous conversations and I’d like to share them.

Here are my reflections, 10 days in.

LinkyBrains has touched on something profound

People from all kinds of backgrounds, jobs, ethnicities, genders are engaging with this. They want to share their experience, others just want to read and comment. Others still are volunteering to help – even as the plan of what needs help is emerging.

People are organising and meeting up and connecting.

The Core Are Committed

Every community/movement was started somewhere by someone.

This one started with¬† 3 naked dancers –¬† Doug, Alex and Chris.
It was joined by a follower – Mike (me) – now we are all dancing naked.

It is what it is.

We aren’t more important, we aren’t thought leaders, we sure as hell aren’t experts in anything remotely like this.¬† ‘First’ doesn’t confer any more rights and privileges than ‘last’. What matters is being in the movement – everyone earns their respect from the things they choose to help with, and the impact they create.

We are simply naked dancers and we keep dancing and working to keep the dance growing. Join in.

We are walking a fine line. Inclusion vs Exclusivity

A really amazing article gave words to what many seemed to be thinking:

Is this some kind of self-congratulating, wealthy male party?

Is this another exclusive club for those who love talking about themselves – because we need that like a hole in the head?

Is this LinkyBrain vs non LinkyBrain?

No. It isn’t any of that.¬†

The narratives so far seems to be dominated with stories/confessions of ‘look how great I turned out with these things that should have slowed me down’.

If that is all you read, it would paint a picture of exclusivity. But I see this differently.

Life is full of challenges, they are like tunnels.

Of course it can be hard for everyone but, for people who see the world differently from society’s normal range, it can be especially hard. That is what this movement is about – making it easier and helping those people contribute to the benefit of everyone.

Most of the confessions are from ‘Jubilant emergers’ – they’ve emerged from various tunnels and discovered ways to be happy and successful at navigating tunnels.

We are not hearing from anyone currently in a tunnel – confused with where they fit, struggling with school / work / life, being understood or however it manifests.

We are not hearing from those approaching a tunnel – who might not even know there are tunnels.

We are not hearing those who might not be facing the challenges themselves, but are supporting people who are. Their voices are important too.

Those groups aren’t often able to speak out and share their realities.
We must do better to find way to hear them. Help us.

We need to move beyond Jubilance to sharing ways to navigate tunnels with anyone just behind us. How did you cope with this, what did you actually do to address that fear etc.

Some abuse will happen

I remember seeing someone trying to sell underwear with the tag #metoo. It pissed me off.

There will always be people trying to promote a personal agenda with any movement – however noble the cause is. That is just what it is. There’s nothing I can do about that beyond doing my best and remain committed to the bigger picture.

The Good Will Shine Through

We – me and the emerging LinkyBrains community – are going to keep encouraging the good, the humanity in us all, the positive. We will continue to help stories emerge, help people connect and do their best work for the benefit of everyone.

By: JohnCC BY 2.0

I am an unwavering believer in the fundamental goodness of people and that will carry our efforts to everywhere in the world. It will quieten the negativity and amplify the goodness.

What Now?

You have simple decisions to make :

Help or not.

Join the dance or watch from the sidelines – pointing and laughing while we change the world.

Helping is easier than you imagine – just some easy things you can do now!

¬†I’m still dancing. I’m in.