Friday, October 15, 2010

Pot Pourri

Uuuhhhh... wow... so much to say... where to start? Hmmm...

It's Not About Time
OK, let's go with time management. (Faith, you gotta read what's coming. It's for you! You too Mark K. And maybe be you Jonny)

The other night, Will, Iris and I were having dinner at Bizen and we got on to the topic of vision, as in: What's your vision?

This led to the discussion of how we manifest vision...

Which led to a discussion of time-management...

Which led to a discussion of time management not being about time but about priorities and lists...

Which led to Will's sending Iris and me the following quote from Empire Falls by Richard Russo:
      Grace had never before encountered a woman quite like her new employer, and she quickly realized that to completely withhold her admiration was impossible. After months of close observation, Grace finally discovered her great trick. Mrs. Whiting remained undaunted for the simple reason that she never, ever allowed herself to dwell on the magnitude of whatever task she was confronted with. What she possessed was the marvelous ability to divide the chore into smaller, more manageable tasks. Once this diminishment was accomplished, her will became positively tidal in its persistence.

      Each day Mrs. Whiting had a "To Do” list, and the brilliance of that list lay in the fact that she was careful never to include anything undoable. On those rare occasions when a task proved more complicated or difficult than she'd imagined, she simply subdivided it. In this fashion, the woman never encountered anything but success, and each day brought her inexorably closer to her goal. She might be delayed, but never deterred.

      Her daughter, on the other hand, was forever being deterred. Temperamentally unable to master her mother's simple trick, Cindy Whiting immediately envisioned the entirety of what lay before her and was thus in one deft stroke overwhelmed and defeated by it.

      She wasn't so much a dreamer, Grace came to understand, as a believer, and what she believed in, or wished to, was the possibility of complete transformation. At some point in her young life she'd come to believe that the whole world, the totality of her circumstance, would have to change if change was to do her any good. Therefore, what she sought was nothing short of a miracle, and it was in these terms that she'd judged her most recent operation."
Thank you Mister Will!

HD Vision
In completely unrelated news (as if completely-unrelated exists), Sree commented on Faith's post yesterday, Homework = Chutzpah and mine from the day before, Your Kid Can Learn Anything, saying:
Tef, I'm intrigued by your idea of postponing college till one achieves more clarity on one's purpose, and would love to hear more. What could a high-school graduate do to help achieve that increased clarity? I have one niece applying for college right now, and a nephew in his junior year, and I wish I could have been more of help in clarifying their paths.

My basic premise is that college is wasted on youth. That you'd do better to save the money you would have spent on college until a time when your child really knows what she wants to do. It begs the question:
Would I rather invest $200K in an eighteen-year-old who's going to college because that's the next step, or a twenty-four-year-old who's knocked around for a bit and finally come to clarity regarding what he really wants from life?

I love Sree's question, which is essentially: How can I help that eighteen-year-old gain the clarity of the knocked-around twenty-four-year-old?

My first thought is high-definition vision or HDV. First, help her clarify her vision of what she wants from life making it as vivid as possible. Second, provide her as much exposure to the 'real-world' that accompanies her vision. Third, repeat until the two align and the passion stays in tact.

OK, that was definitely related somehow.

Gotta Write
In the third related topic (the relationship still to be revealed), Iris and I gathered together for the first time last night with a small group of writers who've come together to share, to learn, and to grow. The group is a gift from Jenny Laird (a.k.a., QuinnMama, author of Zen Master Quinn) although she might describe it otherwise.

Our experience was remarkable leaving Iris and me so energized that we had a hard time getting to bed last night. For me, it was an evening packed with ah-hah moments.

I write a lot, but I've never learned to write. As Jenny took us through writing exercises and we read what we'd written, she would help us see what made something work or not work. As she pointed to this or that, it was as though someone had just opened the curtains in a dark room, not only letting in the light, but also letting me see outward. My mind would click through tens of examples of what she'd just described, examples where I'd been aware of something, but had never known what it was.

In some cases, the gift was not the specific technique or method, but just the awareness that there was a technique or method. I woke up this morning and I couldn't wait to write!

Thank you QuinnMama!!

He's Not Doing Anything
One more thing about the learning process that's come up a couple of times this week is the notion of: productive versus unproductive activity. I had thought it might just be me, but it seems that my experience is shared by others. The experience is that of accomplishing one thing while apparently not doing anything about it.

For example, I had a boss who used to "rent me out" to other organizations to complete tasks that were on a tight deadline and for which they didn't have the resources. One time, a new global email standard had just been announced and the email organization needed all their software to be rewritten in a manner that would be compliant with that standard. They had a month before the code needed to be submitted for compliance testing and I got the job.

They gave me access to all the software and the standards documents. I looked through everything and then for the next week or so, I did the mid-eighties version of googling, nothing about the standards or even about software. Occasionally, I'd stop and look at a bit of code or a section of a document and then back to googling.

At the end of the first week, the project supervisor poked her head in my door to see how much I'd got done. I told her that I was working on it, but didn't have anything to show her. The process continued the next week with her popping by more and more frequently and starting to demand to see something that demonstrated my progress.

By the end of the second week, she went to my boss to complain that I wasn't doing anything. Fortunately, he knew how I worked, telling her to relax and asking her to check in with him rather than with me. He stopped by and asked, "You're going get this done on time, right?"

I nodded and we were cool.

By the middle of the third week, I began writing bits and pieces of code and by the fourth week I was into full productivity mode. We delivered the software to the standards guys and everything passed.

Anyway, what I know about myself is that I get my best thinking done while doing something else, washing dishes or mowing the lawn or just googling. I don't know why that is or how it works exactly, but when I appear not to be doing anything related to the task at hand is often when I'm doing the most.

I learned this week that this is probably the case for many of us.

That's All Folks

OK, that's it for me today! Wait, I didn't even tell you about the accordion named Davinci... Later...

How's it with you?

Happy Friday!

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