The balance between boring and pushing

“Well, in his experience, soldiers spent little time doing soldier things. They instead spent ages walking places, waiting around, or—in his case—getting yelled at for walking around or waiting in the wrong places.”

-Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

I think most jobs are like this. We rarely push our skills to their limits, and we spend most of the time at work doing routine stuff. This can be boring but it can also be used to replenish our energy and improve ourselves. It is not sustainable to always be on our toes, always creating, and always stressed. The challenge comes when we spend too much time in the routine or too much fun stuff that pushes our limits. One leads to stagnation and the other leads to burnout.

You can’t compare sports to normal work but if you look at elite athletes they spend at lest 90% of their time practicing and 10% competing. I admire their commitment, willpower and grit. Their amazing achievements comes from spending so much time training for one thing.

It would be very expensive for everyone to practice the same way in most organizations. But I think most companies need to focus more on making sure everyone learns and develops more during everyday activities and continues to push themselves to become better at their jobs.

What do you want to master next?

Not for the first time, a cold fist appeared deep within her stomach. Never in her life had she worried about credits or having a place to go home to. But with the last of her savings running thin and her bridges burned behind her, there was no margin for error. The price of a fresh start was having no one to fall back on.

– Becky Chambers; The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

When we start something new we loose a lot of security, but it also means we can start over, learn new things, and meet new people. I read an article a few years back we should change our career every 7 years. This was based on the assumptation that it takes 10000 hours to master something (that may or may not be true). The thought was that if your goal in life is to develop as much as possible you should change your job after you have mastered it. If you stay in the job then you may produce a lot of things but you might also get bored.

I agree with the thought that we should change what we do when we stop learning because if we can find a new place that we learn it will be more fun and I think we will get a bigger sense of accomplishment by learning something new. It will also be really scary as you are forced to continuously learn and develop throughout your life. I remember talking to a 70 year old woman about this and I loved how her response was: “Then I should have time to master at least two more things in my life.”

What do you want to master next?

The circle of life?

“it had been briefed that when Culture people didn’t speak Marain for a long time and did speak another language, they were liable to change; they acted differently, they started to think in that other language, they lost the carefully balanced interpretative structure of the Culture language, left its subtle shifts of cadence, tone and rhythm behind for, in virtually every case, something much cruder.”

– Iain M. Banks, The Player of Games

What we say and how we say it shows who we are and also makes us more of that person. Our brain will focus more on the things we talk about and then we will see more of those things and then we will talk more about them. Is this the circle of life? 🙂

Practice and experience

There is a certain freedom granted in privacy—a sense of fulfillment and ease that comes with the simple knowledge that no one is watching. It’s why we feel all right about singing in the shower.

– Kevin Hearne, Staked

To sing or give presentations in public gets better with practice and easier with experience. Practice to make us more skilled. And then the experience that people don’t notice or care when we make a mistake in front of them.

Creativity comes from taking your view of the world and looking at a completely new part of it

‘Now, see, there’s something about your species that I will never understand.’ She let out a congenial sigh. `You and the rest of the galaxy,’ she said. Honestly, what was it about that concept that was so difficult for others to grasp? She would never, ever understand the idea that a child, especially an infant, was of more value than an adult who had already gained all the skills needed to benefit the community. The death of a new hatchling was so common as to be expected. The death of a child about to feather, yes, that was sad. But a real tragedy was the loss of an adult with friends and lovers and family. The idea that a loss of potential was somehow worse than a loss of achievement and knowledge was something she had never been able to wrap her brain around.

– Becky Chambers, the long way to a small angry planet

When it comes to people in organizations, then we seem to value achievement and knowledge much much more than potential. Most organizations also seem to want to stick with their old employees for as long as possible, even if they turn detrimental to the organization and other employees.

I think an organization would gain much more from the fresh perspective they would get if people changed jobs more often. Creativity comes from taking your view of the world and looking at a completely new part of it.

Meaning is everywhere

“Meaning is everywhere. There is always meaning. Or at least all things show a disturbing tendency to have meaning ascribed to them when intelligent creatures are present. It’s just that there’s no final Meaning, with a capital M. Though the illusion that there might be is comforting for a certain class of mind.”

– Iain M. Banks, The Hydrogen Sonata

Running and life

Each footfall was a chance for precision, each moment an opportunity to balance evenly, each push forward a chance to increase his velocity.

–Brenda Cooper