Conversation

All effective teams have three things in common;

  • A shared goal which excites them;
  • communication strategies which enable them;
  • and accountablily methods which keep them on track.

At the end of the day, this leaves you responsible for being a part of things you care about; communicating with respect, honesty and kindness; and doing the work you say you’ll do.

If your current workplace prohibits you from doing one of these things, you’re in the wrong workplace.

If you’re unable to do these things in any workplace, the change probably needs to come from you.

Receiving an unexpected call from a good friend is a delight; especially if they’re not calling because the need something.

Many of us have resorted to sending messages when we intend to have little conversations, because it’s quicker, easier and usually more convenient.

We shoot people messages to check-in, to organise, and to notify, because it’s a quick time save – if the person isn’t available in the moment you’re trying to contact them, it doesn’t matter.

By replacing dynamic conversation with text based alternative, we’re missing opportunites for connection.

For a week, try calling someone first every time you get the the urge to start a conversation which could be had over the phone by sending a message.

If they respond, great! After doing this repeatedly, see if you notice any difference in how connected you feel to your circles.

When people don’t respond, that’s okay too! Just send them the message you intended to send from the beginning.

I’m willing to bet that the extra 10 seconds invested listening to dial tones will reward you with immensley richer conversation.

If you’re in Australia, chances are you’ve seen this petition doing the rounds on social media.

It’s incredibly important that you sign it before the 16th of October.

I only just remembered to do so yesterday, so I imagine there’s a chance that it’s slipped past some of you too.

Unlike some other well intentioned petitions (like this one on change.org), this petition will be presented directly to Australia’s House of Representatives.

There’s a lot of heat around this right now (da-dun-cha), but in the past few weeks, much of the news coverage has centred around the tirade of insecure, well-off white gentlemen who have taken aim at Greta Thunberg.

In the face of all this nonsense and ignorant white noise, it’s important that we focus on the things we can do, and how we can inform change on an individual level.

If there’s a reason you’re not willing to take two minutes to put your name on this, I’d love to have a discussion about it with you.

This is what democracy looks like.

Our own perspective is the most reliable one we have access to.

Yet, we are fallible.

Anyone with a scrap of humility will admit they have biases.

And most honest folk will tell you that their biases are often self serving.

Why then do we act as though our perception of reality is objective?

All the while assuming that those who disagree with us are uninformed, misaligned or simply too blinded by their own incessant biases to see the objective truth that we see so clearly.

This phenomenon is called naïve realism.

In some way or another, we’re all guilty of this naivety because we are unable to consider the perspectives of others without first filtering them through our own ‘objective’ lens of truth.

What a responsibility it is to impose our own judgement onto the rest of the world.

Perhaps we should do so with care.

Describes the natural tendency to react to a positive action with another positive action;

You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.

You get out what you put in.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

It’s all reciprocity.

Reciprocity is the glue which binds us.

It’s the social chain reaction which inspires deep friendships, and even love.

It’s a powerful force which demands the careful balancing of social expectations and experience.

Relationships intensify when your partner’s reaction to a positive effort matches, or slightly exceeds, your initial effort. But relationships shatter when one’s reciprocity is too disproportionate.

Say you made them breakfast, then they picked up your groceries on the way home. A week later, you do a load of their washing and a week after that they clean the house on their day off. The back-and-forth exchange of favours enhances your trust and appreciation for one another. How sweet.

Now instead, imagine you made them breakfast, then that afternoon they returned home in a new car they’d just bought you.

Even if you wanted the car, you probably wouldn’t stay with them any longer than it took to sign the liscensing paperwork.

Even if the gift was genuinely bought as a selfless gesture, because money wasn’t an issue and they knew how much you wanted it, there is a fine tuned part of your brain which analyses these situations with scrutiny;

What do they want?

What do I owe them?

Could I repay them?

Am I sure I want to?

When reciprocity goes to the extreme our scepticism is triggered.

This scepticism exists to protect us from threats or deceptions. The more disproportionate the reciprocity, the more sceptical we will be of the intention behind the positive act.

Scepticism is exhausting, anxiety enducing and awful to be on the receiving end of.

If meaningful relationships are what you want, it’s best to build reciprocity slowly.

Give, give often and give warmly. But be mindful not to overwhelm others with your generosity; whether in the form of gifts, kind deeds, or your time and attention.

I like to listen.
I have learned a great deal from listening carefully.


Most people never listen.

Ernest Hemingway

Our ability to listen informs our ability to learn, grow, and thrive.

The type of listening Hemingway notes here; active, careful listening, involves more than hearing and interpreting words.

Listening is how we process feedback, and not all feedback is proceesed by your ears.

You listen to your body when it’s thirsty and to the road through the touch of your steering wheel just as you would listen to a loved one tell you about their day.

Listening is how we interpret information; turning the inputs of our world into understandings we can act upon.

The world and the people we share it with present a near limitless array of potential inputs.

Advertisers alone ensure that we consume tens of thousands every day.

Where you decide to apply your attention will determine which of those inputs shape you, your thoughts and your wellbeing.

In a world so saturated by inputs fighting for the precious space in your mind, listening carefully is the only way to register some of the most important inputs which would otherwise be lost to our periphery;

The way a troubled friend sighs as they tell you they’re ‘fine’.

The way your little cousin taps their foot when he fibs.

Or the split second raise in the smile of your partner when you tell a bad joke they don’t want to laugh at.

If we’re not mindful, these things, the richest parts of our existence, might pass us by.

Careful listening = Paying generous attention

In this way, your attention is even more valuable than your time.

Invest it poorly, and you risk leading a meaningless existence. You could live for a millennia this way and get less out of life than someone who invested well for just a year.

Invest your attention with generosity, empathy, and joy. Succeed in this, and you’ll find it hard to life miserably.

Investing wisely requires you to share your attention only with people who matter, and to share it fully.

When these people share their own attention in return, cherish it. It’s a beautiful gift to receive.

Perhaps most importantly, beware the vices of those who are more interested in leeching your attention than sharing it with you.

Sadly, as Hemingway notes, this is most people.

Listen, pay generous attention, and encourage those around you to do the same.

But if they prove unable, walk away.

We can’t afford to spread our most valuable asset too thin.

You don’t have enough to waste on those with those unwilling to invest their own wisely beside you.

I had the pleasure of attending the 2019 Perth REMIX Summit today.

The speakers left me inspired, provoked and motivated to find new and interesting ways to do my work.

I plan to write in detail about my favourite talks as I go through my notes over the next week or two.

Expect to hear about the intersection between technology and creative industries, cultural knowledge systems, young people and atychiphobia, the woke paradox, brand(ing) and how to turn missions into quests.

Opportunities to network with likeminded creatives shouldn’t be overlooked. Telling people about the interesting work you’re doing is one of the best ways to ensure that you get the work done.

It’s a privilege to be a young creative in this generation. If that’s you too, make the most of it.

There are so many of us out here and nothing to separate us but bandwidth.


Notes

It turns out that the way we praise children is incredibly important and easy to get wrong.

Counterintuitively, when your little sister comes home with an incredible math score, saying “Congratulations! You’re so smart!” Could be worse than saying nothing at all.

This has nothing to do with whether you should praise good results (you should) and everything to do with how to praise good results.

An experiment which famously highlighted the importance of this was conducted in America with a large group of 10 year olds who were put through a series of tests.

First the children were all given an easy test which they all completed comfortably.

Every child was praised for their results on the test, but in slightly different ways;

Half the children (Group A), were praised on their ability;

“Congratulations! You must be really smart!”

The other half (Group B), were praised on their effort,

“Congratulations! You must have worked really hard.”

For the second test, the children were offered a choice. They could take a challenging test which promised a learning opportunity, or an easy test which they would almost certainly do well on.

Here’s where the numbers start to get interesting.

67% of the Group A opted for the easy test, but 92% of Group B decided to take on the more difficult test.

The brains behind the experiment, Dr Carol Dweck explains that the cause for this is how the different forms of praise are interpreted and internalised.

Kids who are repeatedly told that their success has to with their ability become risk averse and terrified of failure.

They become afraid of failure because they’ve come to understand that people value and admire their abilities, the fact that they’re good at things.

For these kids, to try and fail is to try and feel worthless.

On the contrary, kids who are encouraged for trying their best, for being gritty in the face of a challenge, know that they’ll be celebrated as long as they work hard.

Their value is tied to their ability to work, not their ability to avoid failure.

For the third test, all students were given the same incredibly challenging test. The test was so difficult that most were going to fail.

Again, there was a huge discrepancy between the groups.

The Group A children were more frustrated by the test, and gave up sooner than those in group B.

The Group B kids didn’t just work harder and longer on average than their Group A counterparts, but they were recorded to enjoy the test more.

A final test was given to the groups which was of equal difficulty to the first test which they all received before any praise was given.

The kids who were praised on their ability performed 20% worse that they did on the first test, while the group praised on effort improved by nearly 30%.

This means that there was almost a 50% difference in final test scores between Group A and B.

If a kid believes that they’re only valuable because they’re special in some way that they aren’t being encouraged to connect to their effort, they will go out of their way to avoid situations where they might be ‘exposed’ as someone who fails sometimes.

They develop a fixed mindset which will limit the potential of their talents.

When kids perceive their value based on how hard they work, they embrace opportunities to learn. They make ruckus, they learn and they grow.

This is what Dweck calls a growth mindset, the idea is that your value should be determined by your ability to grow, not your ability to succeed.

Carol Dweck’s research on this subject is exhaustive and intriguing, and the implications are not in any way reserved for kids.

The difference between a fixed and a growth mindset is the difference between;

If I fail, what will people think?

and

If I fail, what could I learn?

The accumulation of Dweck’s research is captured in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Definitely worth a look.

I was six months into training Jiu-Jitsu when I found myself standing across from my first opponent in a state-wide competition.

He had trained much longer, and I simply wasn’t on his level.

So he submitted me.

Looking back, I lasted much longer than perhaps I should have.

The fight taught me a valuable lesson. Not in the four and a half minutes of sloppily trying to defend myself while failing to implement the one technique I was half-good at, but in the opening ten seconds of the match.

The referee said ‘Combach!‘ And we were on. I locked eyes with my opponent as we each hesitated. We stared each other down for less than three seconds before my coach’s voice pierced my ear with a nugget of wisdom which has been bouncing around my head ever since;

‘Be first Luke. Be First!’

Without thinking twice, I took his advice. I closed the distance, took my grips forcefully, and executed the guard pull which I’d drilled for weeks leading up to the comp.

I caught my opponent completely un-prepared, and I had the fight where I needed it to be.

I created opportunity by seizing initiative.

I didn’t win, but I put myself in a position where I could have. A position I wouldn’t have found myself in had I not bitten the bullet and committed to action.

It’s unlikely that I would have lasted as long as I did had I not seized control of the fight at the start.

The importance of this extends far beyond losing Jiu-Jitsu fights slower than you could have.

We all have moments every day when we could use a coach to prompt us into action, but hiring someone to follow you around whispering ‘be first every forty seconds is expensive.

In life, we have to be our own coaches.

Remind yourself constantly.

Carpe diem translates to ‘seize the day’, but it means seize the moment.

Seize every moment possible.

You bump into a friend on the street and you’re both waiting for the other to extend their hand, or offer a hug?

You and a stranger are both politely waiting for the other to get on the bus, and now you’re holding up the queue?

Your lecturer asked a remedial question that everyone in the class should know the answer to, but nobody wants to risk answering?

Be. First.

Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, someone will be thankful you did.

What have you risked? Nothing.

The only think you’ve risked the one-in-a-hundred chance of an awkward three seconds, and you’re probably better for it.

Being first is always better than waiting for someone else to be.

Who’s the most decisive person you know? Who’s the most confident? Next time you see them, notice that they’ve made this a habit.

Try and think of one person you look up to who doesn’t put their front foot forward. Can you? I can’t.

Be first friends. Start now.

I’ve been on a Seth Godin binge, and I can’t get this Q&A out of my head. I adore it.

I had flirted with this idea of ruckus before I encountered Godin’s work, but it had always plagued me with a sense of vagueness.

I liked making ruckus. I wanted to make more and I knew it was important. I believed in it, but I couldn’t explain it succinctly – until now.

The central premise of ruckusmaking is that in the modern age;

It’s free to be wrong.

The required cost to start something; whether that’s a business, a blog, a charity, a community, an anything, is now little-to-none.

The internet provides the means to connect to almost anyone on the planet for a fraction of the cost it would have just a few decades ago.

People know this is the case, and so we’re craving connection more than we ever have before. Everyone wants groups to be inside. Whenever we make a purchase, whenever we show up somewhere, we are actively seeking out a feeling of belonging.

A feeling of; people like us do things like this.

The result is an economy where good ideas that connect people are immensely valuable, as long as they get followed through.

How do you know if an idea is a good one if you don’t tell anyone about it, and then try it?

You don’t. Herein lies the problem.

To illustrate this point Godin metaphorically refers to the game Pictionary – charades with pictures.

Ruckusmakers are amazing at Pictionary, because they start guessing from the second the first line is drawn.

They guess, because it’s free to be wrong, and the rewards for being right are high.

They continue to guess, thinking out loud and unfiltered, until they get close. The drawer then gets excited, and with a flurry of pencil tapping and minor adjustments, they bring the ruckusmaker across the line.

People who sit back silently while they watch their partner slowly recreate starry night might end up with a much better hint for the Pictionary card which reads ‘Vincent van Gogh’, but they will have done so in fifteen times the time of someone who drew this;

The ruckusmaker brain generates a volley of ideas until they find the right one;

Person, hat, cowboy, depressed, monkey, ear, cowboy ear?, cutting ear (the pencil tap-tap-taps), OH! It’s Van Gogh.

The starry night folks might have ended up with a beautiful picture; but the ruckusmakers beat them to the punch, and win the game. Every time.

This is making ruckus.

In this economy, people who make a habit out of generating ideas and commit to the right ones do better jobs at connecting people, and inevitably come out on top.

So make ruckus.

Seth has published an accumulation of work which centres around ruckusmaking on his blog, which I highly recommend reading if this resonated with you in any way.