Context Continuity

Day 347 Week 50 Q4 Thursday, December 14, 2023

It takes a great deal of consistency to change your context. You have to continuously tell yourself the same story and act in a manner consistent with the messages you are delivering to yourself. Now, as long as your reality is consistent with your model of reality, you have a chance of making some real change. We all do this. Everyone has a model of the world they are living in, and everyone continuously updates it as information comes in, which conflicts with the internal model.

Of course, not everyone creates the same models, and the kinds of models that creative outliers create are appreciably different, or at least they can be appreciably different. For one thing, creative outliers know there is not just one universe of possibilities because they are habitually creating new ones all of the time. This means they have to tolerate ambiguity because they know there is not only one point of view as they are change agents.

The danger, of course, is a highly creative person is not always an extremely continuous person. Ideas flow in a lumpy manner. Sometimes, there are many, and sometimes, creative people are intermittent, which is why they need to take steps to smooth out their contribution. If they do not, their context will be disjointed, and they won’t be able to have the continuity required for change.

This is why it is constructive to have some routines in your life where you habituate behaviors consistent with your model of the way you want things to be. It is the habituation that makes it much easier to stick to this consistent behavior that provides continuity to your context. This does not mean that it is fixed, and it never changes. It means that there is continuity without it. It is hard to make real progress. Intermittent deep diving doesn’t get as deep as consistent, continuous diving, which is why sometimes people engage in it. These are hard to get along with. They resist being interrupted, for they know and knock them off their game, and this is why creative outliers need to learn how to compartmentalize to make sure that they have enough continuity to construct a strong context that serves them.

Perhaps this is just a complicated way of saying we create our own world and go and live in it.  Everyone does this, whether consciously or not. The degree to which one is conscious of doing it makes for great mobility and many degrees of freedom in how one chooses to create a new existence and move toward it. This context continuity is imperative if you want to be a change agent and if you want your changes to stick. If you throw too many ideas around and change your perspective to frequently, then you confuse everyone who you were trying to help. Shoot for context continuity, and everyone will be happier, not just you.

Magic Month

Day 346 Week 50 Q4 Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Have you ever created a magic month? Or was there ever a month in your life? That was magic? It is pretty amazing how much can occur in a single month.  Sometimes, what happens is dominated by what comes in from the outside, and other times, what happens is dominated by what is growing inside of you. In either case, a month is a good period of time for transformation. I have heard that this is enough time to form a new habit and that new lives are based on new habits.

It is when the intersection of the outside and the inside occurs where all the transformational action happens. This occurs when a person has a dream with a deadline. In some industries, there used to be major events called trade shows. I worked in two of these industries: the audio industry for 10 years at Bose and the computer industry at Apple in multimedia for another 10 years.

Mini industries still have major trade shows, and now that most markets have become international, a single trade show does not ordinarily suffice to expose everyone to new product offerings, so these trade shows sprout up in different countries at different times. They all present opportunities for a magic month because the month before that trade show, They all present opportunities for a magic month because the month before that trade show a very large number of things get done. Even in consumer retail markets, there’s a magic month between Thanksgiving and Christmas when a disproportionate number of cells are made. A huge number of things get done. Even in consumer retail markets, there’s a magic month between Thanksgiving and Christmas when a disproportionate number of cells are made.

What I am proposing here is similarly impactful but does not require you to be in an industry, or a market, or even work for somebody else at all.  I am proposing that you create your own magic month. That, you have some transformational target in your life that you were on a path toward, and that you somehow create a deadline that is not only internal but which you have also externalized by bringing in other stakeholders to share this deadline, and then you work toward it.

It is possible to remain focused for 30 days more easily than for 30 years. If you really want a high-performance period of time, a month is an excellent duration to choose. I know it does not have to begin on the first day of a month and a girl by the end of said month. You can begin any day at all that you want, and since there are other stakeholders involved, and they have many other things going on in their lives and their industries, there’s not a very good chance that you can make this happen on the first day of a month, because many other things happened at the beginning of months.

So pick one of your dreams, invent a stakeholder event, and then, one month before that event is to occur, be tremendously focused on getting to that result. You can and will change your life as long as you are incredibly intentional about it, and never forget that this is a magic month for you for that entire month. I know you cannot have too many magic months in a row, nor even too many magic months in a life, for that it would not be magic. But once in a while, when there’s something really trying to happen in your life and in the lives of the stakeholders you have accumulated at that point, the conditions are optimal for a magic month to come into being.

It’s time for me to stop because this is the first day of a magic month for me.

Direction Reading

Day 340 Week 49 Q4 Thursday, December 7, 2023

Yes, I know this sounds like a very dull topic because creative outliers don’t like to redirect and read directions.  We prefer to just jump in and use the thing that we’ve just acquired and figure out how to use it. Admittedly, improving user interfaces does make this possible more of the time. At least, it does when it is done well. But sometimes, for expediency or cost reduction, controls serve more than one function, and displays are ambiguous at best when they exist to indicate the status of the device or application. It is a time like this that is truly worth reading the directions. This is not as easy as it once was because no one wants to spend money printing out manuals any longer, and they do not include anything other than a Quickstart, which typically does not get to the level of detail that one needs to truly take advantage of the power of whatever you are trying to do.

I know reading directions is unsexy and doesn’t make you feel like you’re brilliant, and it disturbs your flow, but sometimes it is far faster than continuing to poke around and trying to figure it out yourself. The problem is, if you use a massive number of different tools and devices that require direction, you can forget how to use them when you have been away from them for a long time. And you can only keep so many tools and circulation where you remember how to use them. Considering there seem to be more than 300 apps on my computer and another 300 apps on my mobile devices, I simply cannot remember how to use 600 different apps. In fact, I cannot even remember all of the apps that I have never mind how to use them.

Back to direction reading. There are many different ways of reading directions. You could simply look for which part of a manual describes the particular thing that you want to do and dive in and grab it. Frequently, more context is needed to make sense of what that portion of the direction is, and you find yourself increasing your horizon about this tool. As a professional tool developer, I sometimes feel obliged to understand how the whole thing works. And, of course, this takes an order of magnitude longer than finding out how to do the specific thing I had in mind. But I am very interested in what other things can be done and what the big picture thinking of the creator of the tool was, so I involuntarily find myself trying to wrap my arms around the big picture.

This is not a bad thing to do. It is just not a fast thing to do. Still, sometimes it is actually faster than trying to dive in and find the specific capability because the speaker designers have had some breakthrough thinking, which caused them to take things up a level. It’s always exciting to see what they were thinking and how they manifested it. In all of these cases, reading the directions is excellent value because it saves you a lot of time and effort. I find the best way to deal with reading directions is by using two devices, one to operate the app and the other to read about the app. We tend to need two different screens to do this, especially if we are using a laptop. But since we all have multiple screens, this does not seem to be very difficult for many people.

So, get reading the directions on your newly acquired tools. And I don’t know whether this belongs under the category of entertainment or escape or professional development or getting the job done, but it is really not something that you should expect to be paid for, at least not directly.

Deep Diving

Day 338 Week 49 Q4 Tuesday, December 5, 2023

In today’s complicated software-assisted world, we all use tools that are powerful and complicated. And perhaps they are too powerful and too complicated to know everything about, unlike the tools of the past, which we were able to completely master. Any tool that has a 1000-page manual you’re not going to master unless you use it all of the time.

Usually, we master a subset of what a tool is capable of and continue to use it very satisfactorily for the tasks we most often need to accomplish. Sometimes, we have a sense that this tool can do much more, but we don’t really need to do those things yet.

When the time comes that we feel the need to dive more deeply into this tool, it can be difficult to learn much more about it, with all of the usual distractions of life coming in to interrupt us. This is when it is time to silence your phone and disconnect your network so that you cannot be interrupted. I tried this yesterday, intending to spend two hours focused on learning a lot more about how to use a particular application.

First, it took 30 minutes to actually settle into only thinking about this single tool and what I wanted to do with it. Do not attempt to do this after having just updated an operating system, for that will add another hour if it is a Mac or two days if it is a Windows machine, by which time you will no longer be thinking about that up and diving deeper, but wanted to throw your computer out of the window.

In case you ever wondered why Apple was the largest market cap Company in the world, this is the reason. Apple seems to think that my time matters more than Microsoft does, although all of the companies in the world seem to think our time matters less than they used to. Companies would love to get great reviews and to have loyal customers, yet they do not often act in a manner consistent with this desire.

Back to the deep dive. It was so fruitful that I left my phone off and stayed disconnected for the next six hours and realized that I could not even remember the last time I dedicated an entire day to learning how to use a tool that I was already nominally familiar with. There was gold in them thar hills!

We are so used to multitasking and being interrupted that we rarely do a deep dive into anything. But when we take the time to do this, we can potentially learn more about how to use an app in one day than we have learned in the prior five years of using it.

There is no question that deep diving is necessary for a great understanding of anything complicated. If you try to manage your life with sound bites, you have no idea what’s really going on, including how to use what you already have.

Don’t be Suboptimal

Day 333 Week 48 Q4 Thursday, November 30, 2023

All of us have many modes of operations, some of which are far more efficient than others but are, perhaps, disturbing to circumstances we find ourselves involved in. We need to ask the question if the circumstances need to change, or if we need to change, and who will care if we change. Instead of blaming others for doing things in ways that are suboptimal, we might ask ourselves if we could, in fact, affect the changes we want to in the way we operate, that nobody really warns, and that all of our concerns are projections and not reality.

We may, in fact, have been blaming others for us, performing in sub-optimal ways, even if we know that we could be doing a lot better. We have to ask ourselves how many of our obstacles are real and how many of them are self-imposed. It might turn out that we are afraid of success. And hiding behind excuses.

At what time in our lives do we need to stop this behavior and stop being sub-optimal? When is it time to embrace our full potential? Is this a function of money? Or a function of time? Or a function of who we are with no? I suspect all of that has to do with our psyche. When we are ready, we will be ready, and at that point in time, all of the excuses can drop away.

It is fascinating to contemplate that the majority of the obstacles in our life are different manifestations of our self. There may not even be any external forces in our lives that are causing us problems, and we may not have even noticed this. I wonder why this is so. I wonder why some of the time we are self-sabotaging? On the other hand? Maybe it is time to stop wondering and just get on with life.

Maybe each of us needs to be our very own therapist. And to step outside of ourselves and take a look from the outside at who we are and what we are doing. It can be easier than we think. It can be so easy that it is hard to understand why we have not done it before. But perhaps the time for self-analysis and self-calibrating can be significantly reduced in order to spend much more of our effort in getting where we want to go.

Are you ready? Are you ready to stop being so optimal? Are you ready to inhabit your full power? No one but you could answer that question. But it is undoubtedly a question that is worth asking. If not now, then when? You could spend your entire life waiting to be who you are, or you can simply be who you are right now, and whatever happens happens. Just go for it. And don’t be suboptimal any longer. I give you permission, but more importantly, you have to give yourself permission.