This week ended up being a series of reminders — little phrases or stories — that I could use to think more deeply about my business and my work. I’ll share those. Back to the housing innovation and future of tech, work, etc. Next week. “Future of etc.” is an interesting concept to think more about.
But the first phrase I wanted to highlight that caught my attention was “amplify the good.” In a Zoom call with my colleagues and friends — Brian, Rob and Courtenay — we were talking about how to use Twitter. It’s hard to discuss how to use Twitter without discussing the tone or overall vibe of Twitter. While vibe isn’t a scientific term, it seems applicable here. Negative vibe. Pessimistic. Competitive. More focused on tearing down or finger-pointing than contributing or encouraging.
The specific curiosity I have had for a while is why we’re so keen to blame Twitter and Facebook while forgiving the people on Twitter or Facebook. I mean, aren’t both of these just portals into true human nature? In some ways, it’s our human problem with complexity and gray areas. The reality is that it is about human nature AND it’s an easy tool that amplifies the selfish, insecure aspects of human nature.
We want it to be easy — all or nothing. Similar to when opponents of gun control say “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” as if it ends the policy debate. It’s quite obviously true but it’s not the whole story. The whole story is far more complex and that’s where it gets really hard.
My reason for bringing it up here is not to weigh in on complex policy issues, that’s for another day.
My goal today was simply to think about tools that amplify. If Twitter and Facebook amplify an opinion, a voice, a person, is it enough to use those same tools to amplify the good? Certainly some are using social media to tell positive stories. I know TankGoodNews is an Instagram account trying to do this. I just starting following WorthFeed on Instagram to see if it will also be worth it.
I decide who to follow and who to read. So, I haven’t been on Facebook in quite some time. I just found amplification to be all the wrong things and the reactions I felt were not positive either. But I want to be in the debate of ideas. I want to amplify the good.
Amplify the good.
I try it here by focusing on thought-process, innovation, opportunities to improve outcomes in housing / employment / company-building and share quotes and ideas to that end.
Does not feel like enough.
Feels like I can be doing more.
But what will amplify all the amazing things and deep experiences of this life.
One of my best friends, Dana, and her friend, Mira, have been recording “Grief Chats” on Instagram and YouTube. “Grief is hard, let’s talk about it” is the tagline. In some ways, I think about Grief Chats as helping each other grieve well. It may sound weird but our society is grief illiterate as you can hear about in Episode #2.
To me, there’s both courage and inspiration in grieving well.
When I say amplify the good, it is not at the expense of what’s real or what hurts, but that “good” is also the beauty and strength in what hurts.
Amplify the good is not a segment or thought that I can just end with a solution or conclusion. It’s a concept that I need to think more about, but I wanted to share in it’s initial spark this week.
Never know what that spark might ignite…
Do not blame the seal.
Watching Wild Hawai’i on Disney+ with my daughter, the documentary told a story of the seal. Fisherman were struggling to catch fish. The dry spell was more than just a day and the fisherman started to get anxious. The areas typical for fishing are not delivering fish. The fewer fish, the more the fisherman looked for an explanation. Seal eat fish.
The fisherman blame the seal for eating too many fish, not leaving fish for people.
This justified killing the seal. Quickly, seals became rare and even threatened as a species in Hawai’i.
Scientists claim the seal is not the villain to much controversy.
Scientists plant cameras on seals. Feed the video back to study the patterns.
Seals, according to the data, eat less than 25 pounds of fish a day and did not feed in the fisherman areas.
The killing of the seals was based on irrational belief and not data but hard to combat because it was powerfully tied to the threat to the fisherman.
I couldn’t avoid trying to extrapolate a larger meaning to all human endeavors. What’s true of Hawai’ian fisherman is true for all of us, our teams, our companies, our customers.
Certainly this tells us something about video evidence. Not just data, but specifically video. As much as we might want to avoid it, seeing is believing.
One conclusion here is — do not underestimate the power of video.
Innovation can be difficult because we’re trying to describe or paint a picture of a future that does not yet exist. A reality that is not the current reality. Sounds a little dramatic? Maybe. But it’s true in big and small ways.
Next time you are confronted with a problem. Do not blame the seal and certainly do not kill the seal.
My go-to, as you know, is answer well. When faced with a question, will you answer well? The question — in this context — could be as simply as an email or prioritizing a to-do list. The question could be as complicated as responding to a HR issue or how someone on your team was treated. No matter the question, answer well.
Weather well is a variation that came up organically in a conversation this week. “Are you prepared to weather this well?” Of course, me being me, I’ll skip the “this” to add the flare.
And now I ask you.
Looking at the week ahead or to your next deadline, obstacle, challenge, are you going to weather well?
Weather well is just odd enough to remember when encountering bumps in the road and obstacles in your career or in your day. Since we all have those unexpected twists and turns however big and small throughout the week, weather well works proactively to prepare and as a reminder in the moment.
If you find yourself in the chaos this coming week, weather well.
Speaking of chaos, I was also playing with another phrase this week.
Still in the chaos.
Still in the chaos.
Still in the chaos.
I found this to be a great comment this week because, for me, both meanings can apply.
I’m still in the chaos. Meaning, the day can feel like a combination of swirling, competing urgent priorities. But let’s be honest — life is chaos.
I’m still in the chaos. Or I’m trying to be. Be still. Insert the book Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday.
It’s a work in progress but if you can only control, what you can control, then being still in the midst of chaos is easier to control than the chaos.
So how ever you are experiencing today, this week, this year, I hope you are still in it.
What does that mean?
This is a powerful question. In fact, it is the most powerful question I’ve encountered in a long time. One of the earliest powerful questions that I encountered (but still do not use enough) was “what makes you say that?”
Another example of a powerful question — “what is the story I’m telling myself?” That question is all Brene Brown and is relevant for me on an almost-daily basis.
This week — what does that mean? — applied in a bunch of different ways. I wanted to share it as a potential tool, a simple tool, that can bring clarification to almost anything.
What does the use of that here mean? Clarification and clarity. Dan Gilbert likes to say, nothing clarifies like clarity.
What does that mean to you? Breaking down assumptions, subjectivity to ensure everyone is on the same page.
What does that mean overall? Conclusory. What are you ultimately saying?
Many times, it’s a little of all three.
For me, the question — what does the use of that here mean? — also gets at subjectivity and ensures everyone is on the same page. Ultimately, that’s what I meant and how I will continue to use it. Not as something I have to remember to ask but more of a standard step in the process.
There’s always a risk that seeking clarification is perceived as rude or passive aggressive. It’s real that human emotions get involved. But, “what does that mean?” helps clarify without shifting the focus as strongly on the other person. Instead, it’s a just-so-I’m-clear question. But an important one.
Any hesitation in your next meeting, try — what does that mean?
“Nothing important, or meaningful, or beautiful, or interesting, or great ever came out of imitations. The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” — Anna Quindlen
Bonus Content: Most popular dog breeds in every country … in a colorful map! 27 breeds covering the world.
Continued success and continue to answer well,