Tribes are at 5 levels:
# "Life Sucks" – prisons and gangs, no hope of progress. 2% of people are here
# "My Life Sucks" – people in a DMV line. it’s bad, but my life could be better if… 25% of people here
# "I’m Great" – interpersonal competition (48% of working people are here)
# "We’re Great" – oriented by values 22%
# "Life is Great" – 2%
Leaders are fluent in all 5 tribal stages.
Tribes can only hear one stage above and below where they are.
Leaders nudge people in the tribe toward the next level.
The best tribal leaders connect people who don’t know each other to each other directly (stage 3-4 conversion). The goal isn’t to network people to you, but to each other.
Listen carefully to the phrasing that your tribe uses to understand where they are at.
The War of Art: Break through the blocks and win your inner creative battles by Steven Pressfield, copyright 2002.
This book has been getting a lot of good "buzz" on the net recently, one review even likened it to be akin to David Allen’s GTD for the artistic set. Unfortunately, after reading the book, I really wasn’t that impressed and disagree with a number of his underlying beliefs about creativity, philosophy and theology.
The first section of the book he spends on resistance. In which he builds up this construct and even goes so far as to basically state that if you aren’t experiencing resistance, then you aren’t heading in the right direction towards important goals.
He then proceeds to delve into ways to address and overcome resistance. Largely his main thrust seems to be – keep doing it consistently every day and the good stuff will come. Kindof a "suck it up and deal" approach. Which isn’t anything new or innovative to serious or successful artists.
In the third section of the book he spends this basically postulating his main theological view, which is that there are extraplanar beings/forces for good and that our purpose in life is to create earthly representations of eternal truths or beauties through the help of these external influences. He appears to be of the belief that nothing outside of this goal is of significant value.
Once I had a clear (or so I believe) understanding of his core theology, the rest of his book and behavior generally falls into place very neatly, with the exception of his derogitory chapter on what he refers to as "fundamentalism". And while some of his advice seems valid outside of his core belief system, much of it does not. He very literally and seriously prays to the muses and believes that they will aid his creative efforts. Due to this fairly major gap between his core beliefs and mine, there are disagreements in other areas. I certainly do not wish to discard all of his insights (for some are clearly valuable) but it requires more careful analysis of his claims and understanding their underlying principles before I agree to accept them for my own life.
So a while back, we were having a problem with our 3-year old waking up progressivly earlier. Probalby due to it getting light out progressively earlier. One of the issues with living above the 45th parallel. He can’t read anything yet, so it seemed unreasonable to give him a clock and say, you can’t leave your room before 7:30. So, after pondering it for a couple days on how to give him an clear indication to him when it was OK to get up, but also not wake him up in the process I recalled the chumby: http://www.chumby.com/ was a nice little linux platform with touchscreen, and a quick trip through the user manual showed that you could get it to switch "channels" at specified times. So, $45 dollars on ebay later, I had an Insignia Infocast (a BestBuy branded version of the chumby). There was a bit of a hassle getting it deregistered/registered, but a quick email to the chumby support cleared that up. Then I created a "night" and a "day" channel, set one to show a flickering candle and the other to show a koi pond with little fish. Then a couple of alarm settings to switch back and forth and done…
Now he’s got an easy way to tell if it’s OK to be up in the morning. He doesn’t always pay attention to it, but sometimes when he comes out at the right time he tell us "Wake. Fish. Wake.".
Ah, technology to the rescue…
Tried out the mProductive Blackberry application from http://www.mproductive.com/ Ended up uninstalling it fairly quickly for a few reasons:
* I’ve got a problem where task todo dates get messed up when my BB syncs up to outlook. And worse, once a date on a task exists, it basically becomes unremoveable because the sync keeps coming back. I’ve looked for solutions, but to no avail so far.
* Munging calendar and todo items just doesn’t feel very good. Maybe it is that I haven’t been using dates on tasks as much as I really would like to (see above problem with task dates)
* I have a homebrew system for recurring actions that results in the due date on recovered tasks to be in the past, which throws off the date-based views of tasks.
* I was hoping that the "create next actions" feature would make it faster to go from email to a calendar item or a task item. But at least in my quick trial, it seemed harder and there didn’t seem to be a easy way to set the category on the task, which is how I do my contexts.
* The link related items seemed a bit complex, enough so that I didn’t want to mess with it based on my experience with Karta Mobile where I figured out that simple task association really wasn’t buying me that much. [[2010 August 9 Karta Mobile]]
So I think mProductive solves a problem that I don’t really have, which is focusing a lot of items that need to be done on specific dates. My work model just doesn’t have that requirement. I would like to have that view, but it is available in Outlook 2007. Also, I would need to get my task dates scrubbed out and make some other alterations to my homebrew recurring actions to make that effective. Things that I’m not really willing to do currently as that is a lot of manual work right now.
There are some good things about mProductive. The graphics are really nice. On the subscreens, it does feel a bit cramped, like it was designed for a slightly larger screen and then scrunched down (and I’m running it on a Bold 9000, which has a pretty big screen for RIM). Maybe they will tighten up the UI to get better ROI on all their pixels as they close out the beta.
Karta Mobile’s Outlook/Blackberry GTD solution
So for a long time I’ve thought I wanted to have projects and next-action tasks be 2 separate objects that would be linked. I thought about coding some clever things in VBA or something to keep them attached to each other in the tasks database. So when I got email that Karta Mobile had gotten a syncing option with both outlook and blackberry support using the tasks database, that seemed like a great thing! The best that I’d come up with was to put the name of the project prepended to all related tasks like:
* DH complete: look at coding iPhoto to iWeb dump/sync
* DH complete: push videos into iWeb
* DH complete: tiddlywiki stuff to sync to iWeb
I also use the "categories" field as my "Context" (in GDT terms). I’ve got over 250 items in my tasks folder. The majority are someday-maybe items, but I’m hesitant to move those to a different database because I like the ability to just change the category on an item to either promote or demote an item.
So I installed the Outlook plugin and the app on my blackberry. I started trying it out and to be honest, my brain just balked at it. I had convienced part of my brain that I needed to attach tasks to projects, but when given the opportunity to do so, I realized that it wasn’t that big of an advantage. Not enought to justify adding additional software to the system and altering the existing database. That was a surprise to me because the Viira solution is reasonably nice an lightweight. I guess David Allen was right that adding that level of detail to the system usually isn’t worthwhile.
* There does not seem to be a way to take the existing tasks and use them in the Viira View. That significantly increases the bar to entry, because I don’t want to have to reenter all my stuff.
* In Outlook, switching to/from the Tasks tab seems to take a lot longer (increases from <1 second to >5 seconds), which is concerning and disruptive to mental flow. Also
* When I navigate away and then back to tasks, I have to reselect the Viira view. Maybe if I changed my workflow to keep a tasks window open, that would be a non-issue.
* There isn’t a way to mark tasks as dependent. That might provide sufficient motivation for me to put up with the extra overhead, but there would need to be something that provided some insight to the dependency tree to aid task importance/selection.
* I’m not sure how recurring tasks, either in outlook, or using my personal recovery mechanism will work. The metadata could easily become inconsistent either way.
So in summary, they’ve made a intersting piece of software that integrates cleverly with Outlook. But I’m going to uninstall the plugin for now. Maybe in the future, possibly with a task import option and/or some other value add it will make sense for me to add this tool to my toolbox, but not yet.
As a followup, I gave the above feedback to the Karta Mobile folks and they agreed that those were exactly the next steps that needed to be taken. Their initial beta was focused more on the syncing mechanism.
Pencil case sewing project
I got the idea from a really cool pencil case that I found on a Japanese pen store website. Laurie bought one and I tried to copy it as a sewing project with Sophia. We got some scrap fabric and thread from Leann and put it together in about an hour. It was a bit unplanned and rushed, but we got it done and the results were good enough…
Areas for improvement on the project:
* Project was a bit too advanced for Sophia and I ended up doing a good chunk of the sewing.
* need to set up the sewing machine so that Sophia can use the pedal with her foot
* need to adjust the traction (vertical knob on front) so the stuff gets fed properly
* Laurie’s case really got some key factors right like the evenly spaced pockets, the left side flap notch, the right side flap and attaching the strap to the outside so it pulls the outer flap directly down.
* needed to plan and measure a bit more ahead of time.
* Sophia got bored with the project about two thirds of the way through and it took some work to get her to finish it with me.
What did go well:
* the binding stuff did work OK for most stitches and was highly tolerant from a functional point of view.
* the felt-like fuzziness of the fabric didn’t slip against itself, making it easier to maintain the folds.
* Sophia was quite happy with the end product, which in the end is what matters.
* What is sucking time and attention on a regular basis?
* Who’s stealing your time?
* Repeat meetings
* Poorly run meetings, respect people with agendas.
* What are you repeatly doing over and over again?
* Batch requests to people for meetings (hey, don’t bug Joe with lots of little things)
* "is this still a good time for you to talk" (I respect your time and I expect you to pay attention)
* Program rescuetime – track all apps/docs to see where time goes.
* Don’t let pings come in all the time
* Get off of unnecessary email lists
Work in dashes
* If it’s important, firewall off time to do it.
* Know when you are done with an activity. Don’t let it leak on forever.
To be a good knowledge worker
* Can you be tolerent of ambguitiy and go make things.
* Information, sure you need _enough_ information. Do you know when you’ve got enough
* Have the courage to take the information to go make something with what you’ve got
From a TED talk:
External rewards narrow focus, which is bad for rudimentary cognative skills for "creativity". The Candle problem versus the candle problem for dummies.
Automony, mastery, and purpose are creativity motivators.
Rewarding results only in the work environment may help as people can choose their path.
Does Lean standardization go counter to engaging people?
Too many choices results in 2 primary problems:
1. Paralisis in choice – too many choices makes it difficult/impossible to choose
2. Less satsified in the choices is that is’t too easy to imagine all the alternatives (opportunity costs) that could have potentially be better.
Why choice makes people miserable:
1. Regret and anticipated regret
2. Opportunity costs
3. Escalation of expectations
4. Self blame – leads to depression
Seems like this is that similar to wealth, some choice is good at improving happiness and welfare. But too much choice doesn’t increase happiness at all, and actually decreases.
Thus, the conclusion is that wealth redistribution would actually be helpful for both the top and bottom classes. See the 50s where we did have a larger middle class – did we have something going there?
Interesting quote that I found on one of the GTD blogs (http://www.davidco.com/blogs/kelly/)
"""A foolproof way to create resistance to stretching into new and wonderful places for you is to maintain a sense of over commitment. And one of the surest ways to allow that feeling is to lose track of what your commitments are. The Weekly Review — done regularly over time — awakens your self-regulating mechanism. Knowing how overcommitted you are — really — is very different than being afraid of how overcommitted you are! -David Allen """
I’m definately feeling this right now. I don’t feel like I can stretch out and try new things because I’m too behind on execution of things that need to "get done". And having a todo list with 60+ items just in the "Work" category contributes to a sense of being so far behind that I’m not even sure how far behind I really am.
Seems like I need to do some clearing of the brush and cut away a bunch of stuff either by carving out execution time or decommiting from tasks to get some space clear. This is also true because I’m having trouble getting focused and started executing on "big scary tasks" that need to get done.
All these things seem like they are adding resistance to doing things to becoming exceptional and taking my professional and personal life to that next level.