Posts tagged ‘sharing’

2014-02-03

Art in the Family

My awesomely talented nephew has started a blog with which to share his art and other things. Be sure to check it out:

http://insensitivecostume.wordpress.com/

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2013-11-26

Founding a Non-Profit – The Legacy We Leave

I know I have been awfully quiet of late so here is a fantastic bit of sharing from a former colleague. Enjoy!

doriannsworld

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“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.” ~ Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

As I review this year of posts, travelling…

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2012-11-03

Faith

In early January I found myself in the strange position of telling my father I had faith in his recovery and that he needed to have some too. Constantly faced with set backs due to infections that are inevitable when in the hospital for four months, he was weak in body and thus weak in mind. He would have let himself go at that point and as he told my brother, his heart was too strong to let him. So I found myself at his bedside after work telling him that I believed he would recover to the point that life would be worth living.

What is faith? Is it believing in capital g, God, or Allah, or the pantheon of the Norse? Is is choosing to believe that there is nothing beyond this life, that this mortal coil is all we have? Faith is any and all of those. Faith is believing in something and holding it as your very core. When you believe in something, it becomes your lamp post in the forest. From that place you can map out the world, and cling to it when the maelström surrounds you.

Life is chaotic. No matter how hard you try, life will always be unpredictable. You can make choices that swing the odds towards good things happening, and in the end all you have is your choices. So what do you do when bad things happen? You have to believe. That’s it, believe. You could believe that the world is out to get you, that it is never your fault and I don’t think that leads to a happy and fulfilling life. Believe in something positive and make that the foundation of your happiness.

When your faith is the foundation of your happiness, nothing can take it away from you. When you stripped naked before the world you can say, I believe, and I know I will be happy. It doesn’t mean you are always happy, it just means you know happiness is in you and you will be happy again. I think where people fail is they externalize their faith.

When you believe in a capital g God, you believe in an entity that is external to you. So you can attribute all actions, good and bad, to this external entity it leaves you foundering when things happen that make you unhappy. You can choose blind faith where you believe all their actions are good because, well, they’re God and that doesn’t tell you why so you will remain unhappy.

So what happens when you accept that you don’t know “WHY”? You are released from searching for answers that don’t exist and the unhappiness of a fruitless pursuit. And the only true why you can’t figure out is the big two, life and death. Pretty much everything else has some sort of answer and it is up to you to choose whether it is gods will, or because a butterfly flapped its wings. If you accept that life and death happen then you can stop asking why and start focusing on happiness.

I believe in me and I believe I will be happy, maybe not now but again soon if not now. I have faith. Do you?

2012-10-25

Philosophy Rules!

People come, people go, subway trains go flying by me - but I just maintain my Zen trance, and calmly read my book...Philosophy is a great choice when picking a degree and we now have the data to prove it. A friend recently shared a blog post on Facebook that I wanted to highlight. This is an addendum to my earlier post “Humanities is a Good Choice” because graphics can a great way to communicate. The blog post in question leads with a graphic based on the data found here. As I was trying to find a link to the original graphic, I discovered at least 2 other blogs that commented on this data. I get the feeling that we philosophy majors are a bit insecure because we love it when we find evidence supporting our choice. I know I love data like this.

2012-06-03

Power Questions – A Review

The other day a colleague posted on her blog about the book “Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business, and Influence Others“. Within minutes of reading her post, I had bought and started reading the book thanks to the power of electronic delivery. Why did I do that?

In my journey towards being a better father, friend, sibling, person I have read books such as “Crucial Conversations” and “Difficult Conversations“. Both are great books that have helped me stop making assumptions about others, learn to listen and to share more of my own thoughts in a respectful, non-confrontational way. In these books asking questions is essential to build understanding and the examples are all focused on emotionally volatile situations. That is great and isn’t always useful when you are looking to apply that same process outside of interpersonal situations.

In the past few years I have had the privilege of working with a couple of people who know how to ask power questions. Hopefully you know the type, the one who sits quietly listening then they ask the one question that completely re-frames the discussion into new and meaningful ways. And I have always wondering how do I develop that skill?

None of the questions in Power Questions were surprising or revelatory to me. The power of the questions comes from the story that told about how each question changed an interaction and made that interaction more meaningful. It allows you to imagine yourself, or remember yourself, in a conversation that would have benefited from the use of a power question. The story told with each question helps connect you with the question so that when faced with a similar situation you will recall the question.

So why did I buy the book? It is because I want to contribute in meaningful ways to the conversations I participate in both at work, and in life in general. This book is just one more tool that I can use to help me do that and well worth the few hours to read it. It is also a book that I think I will refer back to on a regular basis to help me tune my thinking.

2012-05-28

Collaboration At a Distance

Getting teams to function well when they are not co-located isn’t easy. Some teams figure out what works for them and, in my experience, most don’t do it well. When discussing this with others, there is always agreement that teams can be highly productive when distributed geographically and no one has ever given an example of how to get a team there. That was until I read an article by Johanna Rothman. Johanna posted the article on InfoQ which gives a step by step process that worked for a team as described to her by one of the team members.

Not only does the team make collaboration work across geographical locations but also across four and a half time zones. This is impressive.  For the teams I work with, we only have to contend with North American east coast versus west coast time zone. We do have teams in India however they are co-located and only need to collaborate with the North American Product Owner.

Not all steps will work for all teams however what is described should provide a distributed team some ideas of things to try. There will also be organizational challenges. For example, we use Scrum as our development methodology and the teams would have to work with their managers to ensure that expectations are met if they were to start using kanban. I would hope that this wouldn’t be too big a stumbling point as ultimately we just want quality software delivered at regular intervals.

I would love to hear thoughts from others on this topic, particularly any practices that work for your teams that aren’t in Johanna’s article.

2012-03-14

Positive Influences

A colleague blogged about National Women’s History Month and celebrates it by reflecting on the women whom have had a positive influence in her life. Celebrating the positive people in our life is something we should do on a regular basis, and if you are like me, something you don’t do enough.

So following on dorianns example, I want to celebrate the top three women in my world. For the record, I am ordering the list by the length of time these women have been in my life. I am not elevating any one of them over another. They are all important to me.

The first is my sister. While we were not particularly close as children, as adults she has helped and supported me whenever I needed it. One of my great pleasures in life is being able to spend time with her.

The second is my daughter. While she isn’t yet a woman, it isn’t that many years away. The joy that she has brought to my life is unbelievable and she has forced me to grow in ways I never expected. Every day my daughter delights and amuses me and I truly look forward to her growing into adulthood.

And third, not to be confused with last, is my partner Wendy. For the first half of your life you live with an idea of what your life partner will be like. For me, it was mostly about someone who loved me to the core. For all my faults and idiosyncrasies, they would be there for me to pick me up when I fall and celebrate my successes. I found that person in Wendy.

So that is my top three. There are so many others, both family and friends, that I have had the honour to share time with in this life. To my top three women and everyone else, male and female, that fill my life with happiness, thank you!

2012-03-02

Doing more by doing less

I use to have a regular disagreement with someone in my life who believed that multitasking was the best way to get things done. All I saw was multiple things half done and often done poorly. I prefer to focus on one thing at a time, and get it done…or mostly get it done. I often get bored at the end and leave the last 5% unfinished. It is this bias that lead me to flag the following two articles. When I bookmarked the second article I had forgotten about the first article and was amused when I discovered I had the author twice in my list on Springpad.

The first article is “How to Accomplish More by Doing Less” by Tony Schwarz. I particularly like this article because it calls out the benefits of a mid-afternoon nap. I know when I am tired that I spend more time struggling to stay awake than doing whatever task is at hand. I usually end up losing the battle and having a series of ‘micro-naps’. If I do the smart thing, stop and have a nap, then I am quickly back in productivity mode. I still struggle though with setting aside blocks of time to focus on stuff. I leave my email open and my browser which means I am constantly flipping over to read the latest email or check the latest article in my RSS feed reader.

The second article, ‘“No” is the New “Yes”: Four Practices to Reprioritize Your Life‘, is also by Tony Schwarz. The highlight of this article is the importance of saying “No” to meeting requests. I often hear this complaint from colleagues and I always encourage people to say “No”. I don’t think that many people listen to me though. It is easy to fill your calendar with meetings, particularly in a organization that tends towards process heavy. At times, in the twenty plus years our product has existed, mistakes were made and processes introduced to catch those mistakes. This is great but we are slowly sinking beneath the weight. I don’t think it is going to drown us though as the culture is changing and the burden is lifting. That said, the default method of getting input, or resolving issues is to call a meeting of everyone who might have some input. Productivity killer!

Productivity is something I think a lot about and something I want to enhance in both myself and those around me. If I can reduce the number of hours required to generate value for the company to offset my cost of my employment then I can use those ‘free’ hours to learn new things that further my ability to generate value for the company.

The one thing that I found lacking in the above articles was links to any of the studies that measure the cost of context switching. For example, here is a study that shows multi-tasking students achieve lower marks. This lack of scientific support, unfortunately, appears to be rather common. I can find dozens of blogs and articles on the negative impact of context switching however it takes some real digging to find the studies that support these claims. They are out there, you just have to dig and be prepared to pay to read the studies. I didn’t feel any desire to pay so didn’t include any links here and if interested check out Psychological Science.

And a side note to multitasking, yes, a study did prove that women are better at multitasking then men however it didn’t then compare multitasking to single tasking.

I know multitasking and distractions hurt my ability to get stuff done so if I ignore your phone call, or take a while to respond to your email it is because I am getting stuff done.

2012-02-23

New set of Posts

I am starting a new set of posts on my blog. In the past, when I found a blog post or article that I found interesting I would email it various colleagues. When I am catching up on my feeds this could result in three or four emails in an hour or so. Not everyone appreciated the ‘blast’ of emails.

It was suggested to me by a forthright and respected colleague that I should accumulate these and send a single email, once a week. She does this Friday mornings. Great idea! So I started a new ‘book’ on Springpad called “Things to share”. The problem is I haven’t shared any of those clippings.

Talking with my esteemed colleague recently as she started setting up her blog, she suggested that I use my blog to share the articles that I found interesting. Another great idea! This will particularly help with establishing a rhythm to my posts and give me the necessary practice in writing so that you get to see quality material.

Please stay tuned as the first post will be up shortly.

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