The corona outbreak has put the entire world at bay. People are dying by the virus and the economy has halted to an next to complete stop. Almost the entire workforce of office workers has moved their place of work to their homes, the commerce of food and commodities are no longer needed in a short time frame.
There is however one change with the coronavirus that we should not forget. For once the entire planet seems to be focused on the same problem that needs a solution.
Religions and politics have mostly been put aside to let people instead focus on the problem. It has even brought up a higher sense of well-being in that groups spawn who helps out fellow neighbours and random people. All with a single goal in mind, to get through the outbreak with as little cost as possible in human suffering.
A thought experiment I’ve had a number of times has been what severity of an event that would be needed for the world to unite. I do believe that we have found an answer to that question.
I have been journaling for about fifteen years. Let’s take some time to let that sink in. Fifteen years of writing about the small things that for most passes by without thought. Naturally this can sound as a great waste of time for some but for me it has become a crucial part of my own personal development and a great way of getting to know myself.
What can journaling give you
The reason to take up journaling will be different for every person. It can be a tool to manage anxiety, depression and recovery but it can just as will be a tool to increase leadership and management skills. The purpose can be different but still the process can be positive in many ways.
It all comes down to taking a step back and look at the bigger picture.
The primary use of a journal is to provide self reflection on an everyday schedule. Reflection can then be done both on the short and long perspective to see how you are progressing towards a set goal or how you are on the way to steer away from another. If you combine journaling with goal setting on a personal level it becomes a powerful combination.
“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact”
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Self reflection can also be used as a powerful tool to develop management and leadership skills. If you arrive at a point where you wonder if you took the right decision or even when you know for sure that you didn’t it can provide valuable input towards what created the situation or journey that took you to that decision. The ability to go back in time and see not only what happened but also why can be of great use.
Self reflection can of course also be used as a decision support to reflect back upon with a high level perspective to let that help in making a decision. Feedback and input are always usable and this is the quickest way to give yourself feedback!
To repeat new knowledge is a way of strengthen the new synapses that has been created in our brains (More information on the process of learning in this article on knowledge repeating and synapses). To explain that new knowledge for someone, even yourself, forces us to create even more bonds between various knowledge in our minds. This can be seen as repeating homework from school and then explain what you’ve learned to a friend. The explanation forces a deeper understanding to also come up with examples and explanations.
To utilise this, write your journal entries on new knowledge as if you were to explain what you’ve learnt to someone close to you. Explain what, why and how. Connect your new knowledge and see how it can be set into practice or when it can be used.
Manage your feelings and thoughts
Emotional understanding of why we act and react in a certain way can be the power tool we need to excel in your professional role. To learn how emotions affect you is to reflect on things that has happened and how that made you feel. This knowledge can be an edge when entering meetings and places that will cause a specific emotional state.
If I am to speak in front of a large audience or in a setting that I know nothing of it naturally causes stress since I want to perform as good as possible. The way I coop with this is to prepare mentally for what I am to do. The preparation I do is often to reflect around what I am to speak about and possible ways it can be received. It’s much easier to prepare for an audience that is not interested or disagreeing then to plan for a perfect session where all you get is praise.
Emotional understanding can naturally also be about everyday situations and how to minimise negativity and maximise positivity. Relationships are constant trials of emotions, good and bad, and to work with these is to understand the what and why.
“We must be others if we are to be ourselves”
G H Mead
What tool to use
Journaling can be done both electronically or using a pen and paper. For me it was all about getting a process in place to start. Where I could keep my thoughts and feelings in a searchable format that can also be kept private due to its content. I went for a simplistic digital alternative.
Instead of looking for specific tool to use I created a Google Document on my Google account and started to type away. One document with dates as the divider between entires. Nothing fancy, no bells and whistles. But this was the format I needed to not get caught up in the details and just start to write.
Simplicity for me was the key to get going.
Since then I have tried lots of different services and tools for journaling. To mention a few that I really like I want to start with Evernote which is a perfect fit for writing regardless of where you are or what device you have with you. If you are looking for a specialised tool my pick is Day One which is available for Apple products only but have a great interface and tools to reflect back on old entries. Last if you are looking for a pure service with web access Penzu has lot to offer.
Pick a place to start, it can be physical or not. Enter todays date at the top and simply write up what comes into your mind from your day. This can be all from a bullet list of things you saw, people you spoke to or places you went to. You can even start even simpler than that with a mood journal where the only thing you enter each day is you mood in form of a smily face.
Happy, sad or in between. And your entry for the day is done.
If you still struggle here are a few writing prompts to get you going. Add to the list as you see fit to find what prompt you need to get going and start journaling!
What did you learn today?
Did you meet any new acquaintances?
What goals did you setup for the future or complete today
I came across this gem of a movie clip (From the movie The Pentagon Wars) that in a nutshell explains product management regardless of market or industry. The challenges and problems are always the same and this clip pinpoint that flawlessly.
Naturally, this is exaggerated to prove a point but I still see the essence of the clip to be true. The movie itself is also said to be showing the actual truth of the development of the vehicle but I do not know the truthfulness of this.
Let’s break this down and see what parts we can learn from.
The stakeholders of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle had many different views on what the vehicle was to be used for. The order was for a personnel carrier but instead of placing trust in the ones developing the vehicle the stakeholders then started to inject ideas into development to be able to show rank.
Even though a stakeholder outranks a specialist, this does not mean that the stakeholder has more information or knowledge about the product being developed.
My five cent from reality here is that this is very common. Often this is smaller things and questions on a design that should be touched neither by the stakeholder nor the product manager. It can be details so tiny that best value would be to let the implementation team solve it while implementing.
Stakeholders and product managers must define the vision and the large strokes of what is to be built. Details are to be dealt by specialists.
The product manager
The product manager of the movie clip, Colonel Smith, did not try to stand strong against the stakeholders and instead let the product bloat and lose usefulness. Where he had the knowledge to stop what was going on, to not go into a conflict he accepted the changes and built a worse product.
Conflicts are the constant elephant in the room if you work with product development. Instead of trying to avoid them, the product manager must learn how to embrace and ride the elephants.
Even when the budget was lifted by Colonel Smith, lack of presentation made the comment pass by all stakeholders. If Colonel Smith instead had been a project manager he would have screamed from the top of his lungs that the budget broke.
One of the three pillars have fallen, stop what we’re doing and regain control!
But again, to skip the conflict, Colonel Smith accepted the change and continued to build a product that was again one step further away from the goal.
What was planned to be a personnel carrier, quickly in and get persons out, became something completely different? Instead of a personnel carrier with large space for troops, it became a tank with a high profile, little ammunition and space for a few troops. On top of this, it was hard to operate.
Stakeholders controlled the development, not the vision. Product manager controlled nothing, forced specialists to cut corners and ignored their feedback.
The product created was a consensus product without a clear scope and no purpose.
Could this be avoided?
Transparency and consequences could have helped to manage and stop the scope creep. New requirements should always come with an updated consequence list. And consequences are best measured with the three pillars or Cost, Scope or Time.
If every addition was instead measured in what value it brings to the product and what the consequence would be for the result it would have been easier to discuss and resolve the conflict. The stakeholders would also have the tools to understand what the changes mean and act on it.
So I saw this amazing Ted talk about the guy who traded a red paperclip, trying to see how big he could make the trade. Can you go larger, generating value up until a house using a mundane object as a paperclip?
The story of this talk is really about value generation. Quickly into the trading journey, the value he’s creating is organic but disconnected from the objects in the trade. The project makes him the tradable asset. The story around his project is the value and this is what’s being chased.
Taking this into account really put an edge on value creation in business. Not only do you need to find the product all crave to get, the most important thing is to find the value connected to it that makes the trade value enough to perform.
On a flight from Copenhagen to Frankfurt not too long ago I read the book How to think as Sherlock Holmes by Daniel Smith. Read it on my Kindle with a notebook close by to be able to take notes as I was reading. Notes were then transcribed into Evernote and my report archive together with additional notes on my key learnings and takeaways.
Thinking is the process of intellectual & logical cognition
Where each person is a four-letter combination of the types. An example profile would be a Sherlock Homes that is said to be an INTP but this is naturally also debated.
The Knowledge, London cab drivers
London cab drivers must take the test of “The Knowledge” which consist of 320 key routes through London. A good cabby has a good mind and a great memory. If you want to know what happened at a specific spot in a city, speak to the cab drivers.
Find the truffle, the key to observe
Seeing is easy while observing is harder. First is passive while the second is active. Instead of looking into a forest and see only trees, it is the pure observation that can lead you to where the truffles grow. Find the truffle!
The silent dog tells just as much as the loud one
The dog who does not bark tells just as much of a story as the one that does. This excerpt was from The Hound of the Baskervilles where Sherlock was the only one noticing that the dogs were not barking when they usually were and based on that observation went to investigate.
Observation is just as much of what is as of what is not but should be.
Observe and listen
Observation is also about listening. To become a better listener, remember the following steps
Focus on the speaker
Cut out distractions
Repeat keywords as names or locations out loud to make them stick in the memory.
“As a rule, the more bizarre a thing is the less mysterious it proves to be. It is your commonplace, featureless crimes which are really puzzling, just as a commonplace face is the most difficult to identify.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Do lucky persons get more luck?
Lucky persons generate their own luck by noticing chance, listening to intuition and create positive expectations. Failure sucks, but instructs!
“The harder I work, the luckier I get!”
― Samuel Goldwyn
The process of logical deduction
Accumulate evidence. Collect it all and analyze what you have often.
Ask questions to fund answers.
Create hypothesizes and analyze
Evaluate your hypothesis to see if they hold up to scrutiny
Conclusions based on all the above and back to first.
The devil is in the detail. Often the tiniest details give away the biggest truths
Facts and theories
Fit theories to facts, never fit facts to your theories. In the first, you are reading the evidence, in the latter, you are rewriting evidence to fit your theory.
The Google effect
Even Socrates identified that memory changed with the written word. This is not a Google effect.
Body language is the biggest part of communication. Part of the dialogue.
Focus on the big picture
Always keep your eye on the big picture, even though you only have a small piece of information. Find your own optimal place and process to analyze information in the best possible way. Don’t put over-trust in intuition!
Power of note taking is to stop taking verbatim notes. Cut out the discussions and instead note down thoughts. Draw and color code. Categorise! Use memory relocation and bind important data to personal anchors. Use churning or mnemonics to build a story.
When all the impossible have been excluded, what remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
― Arthur Conan Doyle
Don’t mistake correlation for causation
My biggest take away from this book must be the power of deducing based on a better observational skill. It made me so interested in the subject that I have started to read the actual Sherlock Holmes books to pick up his way of seeing the world. To become more observant in everyday situations is something that really does seem like a superpower.
So, I’ve been thinking about finding myself a fitness challenge for a while. To have a purpose with my training and also as a way of pushing myself to a more fit lifestyle. To give the workouts and weight loss an actual purpose more than just health.
I’ve been running more or less for about ten years but never really focused. Competitions I’ve participated in have all been 10km races but no longer distances at all. I’ve been running for a way of both getting exercises but also as a mental pause in my professional life where running has been my meditation time.
A few years back I started to grow a fascination for ultra running. Not that I started to run the distance myself but a profound interest in what drives people to endure the pain that is connected to ultra distance running.
Reading the book ‘Born to run’ by Christopher McDougall just increased my interest and finally when I watched the documentary about the Barkley Marathons over at Netflix I decided for myself; said and done time is here.
This brings me to the present. Last week I did what I’ve been thinking about doing for all this time, I registered for a ultra marathon in late summer of 2018, Ultravasan 45km. This gives me about a year to get in shape for the distance and prepare my body for some longer distance running.
I am using Runkeeper as my app of choice to create a training plan to reach my goal and I’ve set a few milestones along the way to see if I’m progressing. Still evaluating both Strava and Endomondo too though. My old trustworthy Garmin Forerunner 310XT is still the watch I use for heartbeat and distance measurements but connected to my goals is also to upgrade this watch to a newer version with more functions. As long as I use a Garmin device all data will, however, be synced to Garmin Connect.
The current milestone plan is:
10km run at a calm pace with controlled heartbeats in November.
21km run in a calm pace with controlled heartbeats in January 2018
21km race on Mya 1st, 2018 (Växjöloppet, half marathon)
Social networks are here to stay. And since Google entered this market fully with Google+ we have yet another place to keep a profile – or do we?
I for one start to get a bit tired of keeping all profiles up to date all over the Internet. I believe that we will see a pushback from our sharing society with the coming generation. This got me thinking; if I should go with one network only – what would it be?
Let’s start by going through some of the networks I currently use. This is in no way a complete list but it is the networks I see categories for and could estimate.
Professional – LinkedIn
I keep an updated professional profile on LinkedIn. I use it as a contact card for new people I meet and as a way of keeping an online cv, always ready. My contacts are kept at a level where I am in control over what information is shown for who.
The audience is professionals I have worked with and/or have been in contact with. Content is to build my professional profile and to maintain my name in the eyes of future employers.
Private – Facebook
My personal contacts and friends are on Facebook and it is here I sit and couch surf what people are up to. Also, the place where I update status updates that surround me as a private person.
I try to keep a controlled list of contacts. People I am at ease with sharing more personal information as well as location bound information.
Photography – Flickr/Instagram/500px
As a photographer and I have found the simplicity of Flickr to be perfect for me to share my pictures. Most photos go to Flickr while I maintain my stream at 500px more to the portfolio photos.
Instagram is one of those services I can’t find a clear label for. Currently, I am using it as a more direct way of showcasing everyday photography. Due to this, it went below the Photography category.
Everything else – Twitter
All networks have different audiences and different content and for me to keep all together, I use Twitter. I use multiple accounts to differentiate between language and content but most are connected. I use Twitter both as a re-post service for other networks as well as for posting new content.
So if it all came down to use a single network what would I do? For me personally, I would stay on Twitter. The reason is the pure simplicity of the service. I can tweet from all my devices, I am forced to keep the update direct and short. Feedback is instant and the audience is large.
Using the multiple Twitter accounts I can maintain a good overview of the different streams. Some streams I read to the fullest where others are more at a glance.
So there you have it. If I had to choose, I’d choose Twitter.
When I grew up as a child we had what was called computer knowledge on schedule. In fact, it was not that much about computers though as it was creating a muscle memory for where each key is in a qwerty-style keyboard. We got a paragraph of text and we were to repeat it. This was computer class back then. Today the educational space of gaming has changed a lot.
Computers in education
Going forward the computer itself became more of the tool instead of a tool. Quickly it became what was used for everything instead of specific education. Tools and games that were used in school was highly biased against education and was nothing that an everyday person would buy or use at home. This too has changed.
Not just Minecraft
Not too long ago Minecraft entered the stage as an open-end sandbox that had no rules and no real guidelines. Instead of educating or forcing anyone to do anything it was truly a game of the player’s mind. The fantasy that was created outside of the game became the purpose of it.
A few months ago I was commuting to work by bus and since there is a school in the same direction as my work there was a whole bunch of kids in there. I overheard what the discussion was about and apart from obligatory how-to-get-away-from-school-work-schemes, the discussions were about Minecraft. They played together, created complex goals together and played against a common goal that was fully defined by themselves.
Minecraft has become Lego of its generation.
Personal Lunar mission
Just a few days ago I had the pleasure to try out a new game that is under development called Kerbal Space Program. It is a game that takes place in a fictional world, inhabited by fictional beings called Kerbals. The kerbals have just been able to kick off their space program and it is up to the player to help them execute on this plan.
It has been called the only game where actual math and physics knowledge can help you prevail and it is really the truth. The game is a fun game where spacecraft can be built and flown but without too long you find yourself learning about terminal velocity, optimal ballistic routes and how gravity can be used as a wonderful engine to boost just about anything to anywhere.
These are the games that will define our coming generation and I love when I find them. I hope that I will keep my curiosity alive so that I can help my own child to take up these games and to learn while playing.
I do not think anyone today would really miss the muscle memory courses learning where keys are on a keyboard. Somehow I think they will get that knowledge without any set time on the school schedule.
Have you seen any other great educational games? Please let me know!
Kerbal Space Program is a game by SQUAD where the players create and manage their own space program. Build spacecraft, fly them, and try to help the Kerbals to fulfill their ultimate mission of conquering space. For more information, check out their website.