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If you do things right…

“If you do things right people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all.”

          – Terry Pratchett

I just remembered this quote. I think it is from Terry Pratchett’s book Small Gods but I’m not 100% sure. Imagine two people working on two different projects. One of them manages the project without any problems and delivers on deadline. In the other project everything seems to be falling apart but with some extra effort he manages to finish it but a bit after deadline. Who will get the most praise?

We don’t know if the second project was more challenging and we can never find out if the projects would have run differently if we had switched the two people managing them. Today’s society seem to reward people who are problem solvers, not the people who manages to fix the problems before they appear. We can see this in fiction as well; it would be quite a boring book or movie if everything went exactly to plan in them. Organisation’s will be very unbalanced if we only promote and reward people who are problem solvers instead of problem preventers.

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Always review

“The plane had a cabin crew, which ran them all through the plane’s safety procedures like on a regular plane. Lancaster followed along with the instructions and looked at Brian hard, until he did too.

"Always review when you can, Brian. No matter what you’re doing, or how often you’ve done it before, something fresh in your mind will save your ass about twenty percent more often than if you just go on old knowledge. It works… so do it.”“

          – P.S. Power, Proxy

After reading this I started to follow along during the flight safety procedures again, which I have not done for many many years. And it got me thinking about all the things I think I know just because I have read it a few years back, or if I have done something a few times. Rereading old books I have on communication, personality types and conflict management made me realise how much I had forgotten from them. I remember the overall ideas and many of the take aways, but details I have forgotten or didn’t see the first time I read them came back to me. There are two great ways to remember things, one is repetition and the other is to associate the new knowledge to old knowledge. By creating multiple connections to the new knowledge it makes it easier and faster for our minds to find it again. That’s one of the reasons I love to read all of these books, find quotes and connect them to other things I have learnt.

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“I’m unpredictable?”

“I’m unpredictable?” I found that hard to believe. She shook her head. “I’m certain that you believe that everything you do is perfectly predictable. It probably is, to you, or to someone who thinks like you do. But for the rest of the Collegium…”

          – L.E. Modesitt J.R., Imager’s Challenge

This is why it is important to talk about how we think and feel. Why tools like MBTI and FIRO-B are needed to give explanations for how we are different. They are models of the human mind and human behaviour and can not explain everything, but they are a good way to start talking about our differences and similarities. It helps make us more predictable to one another and to make cooperating easier. 

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Meetings have a beginning, a middle and an end

“One never has a meeting without knowing exactly how it will go and how to assure that it does.” He smiled warmly. “Otherwise what is the point?”

          – L.E. Modesitt J.R., Imager

The two most important things for a meeting is to have a purpose and a plan to reach that purpose. Most meetings I have been to usually have the purpose more or less defined, but I have been to quite a few meetings which seemed to lack that as well.

What many people forget is to think about how to reach that goal. A meeting needs a beginning, a middle, and an end. The beginning is to make sure everyone feels comfortable talking and that we have a common understanding of the purpose of the meeting. The middle of the meeting is about discussing the problem and look for solutions. The end of the meeting is about deciding on what to do and make sure everyone knows their tasks. A meeting needs a lot more things to be truly good, but this is a good base.

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Words cannot describe the most magnificent of sunrises or sunsets, or even the greatest painting of the greatest representationalist or the most beautiful of statues, or the most stirring and harmonious of melodies. Words are all that we have to convey to each other what we see and what we feel, but never should we accept a belief that words truly or fully describe the world

– L.E Modesitt J.R., Imager

The hard part in communicating is that the words we use have different meaning for different people. We might have read the same dictionary but we have different experiences of the words themselves. A word that you read in a beautiful poem will have a new meaning to you and a meaning that I will never completely understand. I think that is both the fun and the hard part when we try to share our thoughts and feelings. This is also why we have to start listening to the intent behind the words, instead of the exact words people say.

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The Last Mistake was a sort of monument to the failure of human artifice at critical moments; its walls were covered in a bewildering variety of souvenirs, each one telling a visual tale that ended with the verdict ‘Not quite good enough.’ Above the bar was a full suit of armour, a square hole punched through at the left breast by a crossbow quarrel. Broken swords and split helmets covered the walls, along with fragments of oars, masts, spars, and tatters of sails. One of the bar’s proudest claims was that it had secured a memento of every ship that had foundered within sight of Cammorr in the past seventy years.

– Scott Lynch, The Lies of Locke Lamora

A few years back I was in Vermont for a conference and I took the chance to visit Ben&Jerry’s Ice cream factory there. Outside they have a Flavor Graveyard with a tombstone for every flavor that did not sell very well. What I really like about this is that they dare to show people all their failures and in some way celebrate them. I wonder how we can change our thinking around all our failures and be proud of them instead? Failing means that we dared to try something that we were not quite capable of yet. That we pushed our boundaries and hopefully learned something new from the experience.

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You see, there’s a fundamental connection between seeming and being. Every Fae child knows this, but you mortals never seem to see. We understand how dangerous a mask can be. We all become what we pretend to be.

– Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of The Wind

There needs to be a balance in life between adapting to the people around us and getting our voices heard. To create a community we need to adapt, but the community will not have any strength if people can not express their creativity and individuality.

How can I be myself and still adapt to the people around me when needed?

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If at any time I tell you to run, fly away as fast as you can. Does everyone have that? We’re not here to prove how brave we are, our job today is slaying dragons.

– P.S. Power, Goddess of the Moon

These lines made me laugh when I read them. Everything is about perspective and our focus. To go out and slay dragons might not seem like a brave thing to do for some people, and for others standing in front of an audience giving a speech might be terrifying. We all need to work on our comfort zone, what we dare to do, and one thing I took from this quote was to focus on the goal instead of being afraid. To focus on my task; sometimes it might be to slay dragons and other times it might be to help a group of people learn something that will help them in their lives.

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The world would be a better place if people stopped voting for folksy candidates they could have a beer with and started voting for people smarter than they are.

– Marcus Sakey, Brilliance

I wonder what politics would look like if media focused on politicians’ qualities for being able to lead a country instead of looking for quotes that can be misinterpreted when taken out of context? I wonder what politics would look like if media focused on similarities between the parties instead of focusing on the small differences between what they think and what they do? We need to start in what we agree on, to be able to have a good conversation about what we disagree on.

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When you use words to hide meaning, you’re lying. When there are no words and no descriptions, when critical facts are simply not there, that’s also lying. You can call it deception in the cause of a greater good, or service to a higher ideal, but in the end, it’s lying, and it will cost you in ways you can’t possibly comprehend because you’re perverting the very basis of human communication, and every time in history that’s happened on a large scale the result has been disaster. I just hope that doesn’t happen here.

– L.E. Modesitt J.R., The One-Eyed Man

Sometimes lies or white lies feels easier to tell than the truth. What I have noticed is that truth is often much more complicated than lies, because the truth contains not just what we did or what we said, but also the thoughts and feelings behind the words and the actions. It contains all the actions that led up to that event and our thoughts about what other people did before and during the event. All of this makes truth very hard to explain to other people.

It is often much easier to lie or not tell the whole truth, but by telling the truth you give the people around you the chance to get to know you. And most importantly, it will help you practice being open and explaining your complicated truth. To share who you are.