Play

Had a meeting today with an interesting person. We talked business, life and philosophy. He presented an angle to “Fuck it” that changed my view on letting go – a view that is more direct, active and productive. Play is more positive. While “Fuck it” has great merit, Play is easier to adopt.

You can tell a person to “let go” of the negative emotions he creates. He can perhaps do that. Or perhaps he will struggle to figure out how. You can guide him, coach him, train him to just “give a fuck” and “chillax”. But it may take a while with some serious guidance.

Telling him to play more in life is easier to grasp, easier to do. Play is doing fun stuff that is unserious and not demand results or consequences. Ask the person what “play” is to him. Then encourage him to do more of that in his life. Voilá.

soccer

Xtreme

It really is extreme. Extreme people with extreme skills, doing stuff people wouldn’t think possible.” Adrian was half proud, half nervous as he walked through the doors of the most mythical company in town – aptly called Xtreme. Unpretentious, an almost anonymous location. But inside, a nerd’s heaven.

Xtreme

The interview was nothing like he had imagined. And very far from any interview he had experienced before. He was to pitch right in on a project for a week. And then his team mates were to decide if they wanted to let him on board. He had to impress them, ha had to be extreme. “Impress people like Claes, Florian, Maria and Michael. Damn, I have to be on top of my game here, cuz those guys are freakin legends in the open source world.” But so was Adrian. He had run several projects that has gotten good traction on Github, and that was precisely why Florian had asked him to come and show off his awesome. But Adrian was never the bragging, arrogant type. Shy and humble, submerged in an intense interest for developing the next coolest thing – he so wanted to work with these guys.

Getting on board meant to actually own an equal piece of the company and share the responsibilities, decisions, salary, perks and work with everybody else at Xtreme. And it meant getting to work with the top notch developers in the world, doing stuff that really matters. No wonder Adrian was tense.

But the week went surprisingly well. His team mates were including and helpful and he got plenty of opportunity to show his skill set. He worked on a technically challenging and interesting project that would prove extremely valuable for a customer building rescue helicopters.

He got to see the organization up close. Or rather, the lack thereof. Without any executives or hierarchy, the company was light, quick and ultra-dynamic. “But how do you make important decisions, like moving the company to new premises?” he had asked. “It’s like in this village called Endesh in North Tanzania“, Florian replied, “they get together and decide.” “All of them?” “Yeah all of them. All of us.

But don’t you need executives?” Adrian looked somewhat puzzled. “Why?” Florian inquired. “What would you need an executive for? Do you need to be told what to do? Or what not to do? Or do you need someone else to motivate you to do your best? Because if you need those things, we don’t need you.” Adrian got the drift and answered “Well, I sure haven’t needed any of that to get me this far. The bosses I’ve had have more often than not been in my way, deciding on stuff they really don’t know and without the hands-on knowledge required to make the right choices. All while they think they know best.” Florian smiled. “Then we’re on the same page here. There is no set process, formal way or exact procedure for what we do. We have the best guys in our field, we get shit done, learn, and get even more shit done. It’s a continual evolution.

Facts or inspiration

David wondered how he could best present the strategy to the board. Did they want pure facts or did they want inspiration?

While some of the board members were science types and driven by facts and figures, others were people-oriented and motivated by emotions.

If he were to be succinct and sum everything up as terse as possible, he knew of no better way than using a HyperList. If he were to relate the strategy with inspiration and emotion, the best way was to tell an old fashion story. He could sum everything up in half a page using a HyperList. Or he could write a short story a couple of pages long that took them on an inspirational journey. The story would describe how the company would be when the strategy was fulfilled using a fictional character to relay the points.

He decided to give them a choice by summing up the two forms in a simple HyperList:

OR: 
    Pure facts = HyperList
        The most succinct presentation of data
    Inspiration = Short story
        Words painting pictures and inviting emotions

And then he wrote this story.

“The stupidity of project management”

Brendan and I are writing a book on Project Management. While we have plenty of experience in both large and small projects and have lots to contribute through a book, I wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity to get input from the very intelligent readers of this blog.

So; what would you like to read in a book titled, “The stupidity of Project Management”?

HyperList version 2.3. Hashtags, graphing and more

I am proud to present the latest HyperList release – version 2.3.

HyperList now accommodates Twitter-type hashtags (called simply “tags” in HyperList – prompting a renaming of the old type of HyperList tags to “properties”). References are changed and so is Change Markup. And then there are a few minor fixes.

The VIM HyperList plugin is updated and released over at vim.org.

Apart from these enhancements (and more), there’s a real treat in the mix: Hypergraph.

You can now automatically graph a HyperList as either a mindmap (for HyperLists that are State descriptions) or a flowchart (for HyperLists that are Transitions descriptions). An example should suffice – this dummy HyperList:


First Item
    Second Item; OR:
        Third Item
        Fourth Item
    Fifth Item
    [? Item=Cool] Sixth Item (<Second Item>)
    Seventh Item
    Eighth Item

Graphed as a State (mindmap):
test_state

Graphed as a Transition (flowchart):
test_trans

HyperGraph is a rather complex endeavour. It works but you may encounter some snags. If you do, drop me a line and I will fix.

Visit the HyperList page to download the HyperList document and the new HyperGraph script.

Statistics as another way of stifling creativity

For some odd reason, I accidentally stumbled across a comment here on my blog from more than 2 years ago. Beyond the point regarding Scientology, Charles Bourke Wildbank made an excellent point about the retrospective nature of using statistics in business. While history and statistics do have their valuable uses, they can also stifle creativity. Interesting accidental dig, methinks 🙂

When I did art for Scientology many years ago, there was an enormous amount of micromanaging and stifling of creativity. I just said, “I’ve had it!” The problem with statistic hounding is that they are based upon YESTERDAY and OLD STUFF DONE, yet they wish to REPEAT those actions. That is NOT CREATIVITY. Every artist on staff I have known no longer work for Scientology today. Small wonder. We want pioneers and all artists are of the pioneering sort. There are others who pretend to be artists and paint “tradition”. That is their choice. It allows them to brush up more skill until they are ready to make that LEAP.

wildbankhomewave2

Your life

What if you at your core is “potential will”? And as you start to exercise that potential, you create. You create and add to the game of life. Each creation is an expenditure of your potential – of your will. You trade potential will for actual experience. The more you cumulatively affect, the more affects you. And what if you actually create every experience you have at every instance? Not that you necessarily create everything that is – but every effect it has on you.

It’s like a game of soccer. You stand outside the field watching other players. You decide to pitch in. At the instance you join the game, you are subject to a set of rules. The only way to not be affected by the rules is to leave the game. But as long as you decide to play, your will is limited by the rules. And the more agreements you enter into – such as formations and your position in the team, the less free will you have left.

Like in business. You start off with two bare hands and a brilliant idea. You have a whole vista of opportunities. As you create the company, you add substance, but at the same time you relinquish your range of possible choices. You trade free will for focus, for creations. And the more you create, the more you own. But what you own also owns you. It takes a hold of your freedom.

You expand your company, adding people, products, processes and partners. Company rules, regulations and bureaucracy. And limitations to your free will. When Facebook was a startup… when HP or Apple was garage companies, the founders had lots of ideas and much free will. But as the companies expanded, their freedom within that game diminished. To regain freedom, they could pack up and do something else.

What if this is how it is on all levels in life?

What if you create every thought and every emotion you experience? Every high, every nightmare. What if all you had to do to not have the nightmare was to “wake up” – to stop creating those thoughts, those fears?

Maybe the idea of others being responsible for your thoughts, emotions or actions is limiting your own free will? Maybe your assigning your responsibilities to others is you “digging your own grave”. Perhaps this is why “letting go” works so well. Simply saying “fuck it” to the blame, shame and regret – and just not creating those haunting thoughts, those painful emotions anymore.

Adding structure limits freedom, adding policies limits choices and adding complexities limits potential.

These musing could funnel four valid therapies to regain one’s freedom in any area:

  1. Just “letting go” and say “fuck it” to the limitations you yourself create
  2. Spotting the fact that you create those thoughts, those emotions in order to be able to “let go”
  3. Exercising “liking” a situation or at least your own created feelings regarding a negative situation
  4. “Exposure training” where you force yourself to do the opposite of creating the limitations

The last point would encompass the exposure to spiders for the person suffering from arachnophobia or skydiving if you are afraid of heights. Research show that 2-4 exposures to your fears per week will “wear it out”. You would expose your fear on a gradient – to challenge the unpleasant feeling of fear increasingly until it subsides. It is important to not overdo it or make the challenge insurmountable. It’s like lifting weights to build your bodily strength.

My experience in coaching hundreds of people in life is that these therapies tend to work better than regression or “looking inward into your mind”.

It boils down to “doing what helps” and “not doing that which doesn’t help” in any given situation. Creating feelings of “stress” or “panic” or “rage” may not be very helpful in a certain situation. If you looked at the situation calmly you may come to the conclusion that there are other, more helpful feelings that you could have created instead.

Living in the present, not delving into the past or living in the future, that is a key to happiness. But if you realize that you are able to create any thought and any emotion, you really don’t need any means or any excuses to be happy. Just create happiness. It takes training to do so when life is inviting you to create other emotions. It may be hard to create a happy you when you are stuck in the dentist’s chair. But instead of giving away your key to your thoughts, emotions – your life… training and exercise will eventually get you there – taking control of your own thoughts, emotions – your life.