Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 16, Issue 13;   March 30, 2016: Still More Things I've Learned Along the Way

Still More Things I've Learned Along the Way

by

When I have an important insight, or when I'm taught a lesson, I write it down. Here's another batch from my personal collection.
An example of a Weaver's Pathway

An example of a "Weaver's Pathway" in a Navajo rug. A "Weaver's Pathway," or "Spirit Line", is a small line of contrasting color that passes from the inner field of the piece, penetrating the borders, until it reaches one edge. When non-Navajos notice it, they often see it as an imperfection, because it violates all the symmetries of the pattern. But to Navajos, it's a path that enables the weaver's spirit to free itself from the piece.

We can view imperfections in anything we create as pathways to places worth exploring. For more on the Weaver's Pathway, see "The Weaver's Pathway," Point Lookout for May 7, 2003.

When I learn something, I sometimes wish I had learned it long ago. If it could have saved me trouble, or led me somewhere I find appealing, I write it down. Here's another installment from my growing collection.

  • If your workload is totally unreasonable, better time management won't help much.
  • If you work for a jerk, striving for superior performance is worse than a waste of time. It keeps you from finding another job.
  • Multitasking is a hoax. What we really do is task switching, which drains energy and wastes time [*] .
  • If my success depends on yours, but yours doesn't depend on mine, I might be in big trouble.
  • Creating great ideas from scratch is really hard and really rare. Many great ideas are clever combinations of other great and less-than-great ideas.
  • Organizations and their people either succeed together or fail together.
  • Risk-averse organizations risk stifling creativity and innovation.
  • Threats work in the short run, but they drive people away in the long run.
  • If you decide to give up, you'll never know whether you could have done it.
  • You can't trust everything you find on the Internet, but some Internet communities and Web sites are very reliable. Find some you trust.
  • Perfection isn't achievable, but with practice, you can make the imperfections insignificant.
  • Cherish imperfections. They can sometimes lead to wonderful, exciting places.
  • If a difficult decision gets easier when you pretend you're deciding it for somebody else, the difficulty is probably about you, not the decision.
  • When all your choices are bad, choosing usually isn't the hard part. The hard part is accepting that you must choose the least bad choice.
  • To get more choices, try letting go of dogma and ideology.
  • When people suddenly renege on commitments, they could be just untrustworthy, or maybe somebody powerful ordered them to do it. Some people would let you believe the former before they would ever acknowledge the latter.
  • You can't When I learn something that
    I wish I had learned long
    ago, I write it down
    solve problems you don't realize you have.
  • You can't use assets you don't realize you have.
  • The Development orientation focuses on figuring out how to break the mold. The Operational orientation focuses on using the mold more perfectly.
  • Creativity and Freedom are partners. You can't have much of one without help from the other.
  • I've forgotten so many great ideas that I'm sure some must have been better than any idea I've pursued. So now when I get an idea I write it down (or type it in). Now if only I can figure out how not to lose what I've written down (or typed in)…
  • Outsourcing risk management is risky. Something about having to live with the consequences of risks makes people better risk managers.
  • The easiest way to offend somebody is to disparage something personal they can't change.
  • If all you know is where you don't want to go, you'll get there faster.

If you have a personal collection, maybe some of these might suggest an addition or two. If you don't yet have a collection, maybe you can start one. First in this series  Go to top Top  Next issue: Irrational Deadlines  Next Issue

[*]
Psychologists have studied multitasking in detail. See this article in Psychology Today for a survey of the latest thinking.

Go For It: Sometimes It's Easier If You RunLove the work but not the job? Bad boss, long commute, troubling ethical questions, hateful colleague? This ebook looks at what we can do to get more out of life at work. It helps you get moving again! Read Go For It! Sometimes It's Easier If You Run, filled with tips and techniques for putting zing into your work life. Order Now!

Your comments are welcome

Would you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenOxHKCTZSPJhBskByner@ChacOAIziOOvdeSGYFAMoCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.

About Point Lookout

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.

Point Lookout is a free weekly email newsletter. Browse the archive of past issues. Subscribe for free.

Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.

Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.

Related articles

More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:

View of Mt. St. HelensOwn Your Space
Since we spend so much of our waking lives in our offices, it's surprising how few of us take control of our immediate surroundings. If you do — if you make your space uniquely yours — you'll feel better about the time you spend at work.
Abilene, Texas, USATrips to Abilene
When a group decides to take an action that nobody agrees with, but which no one is willing to question, we say that they're taking a trip to Abilene. Here are some tips for noticing and preventing trips to Abilene.
US President John Kennedy set a goal of a trip to the moonAchieving Goals: Inspiring Passion and Action
Achieving your goals requires both passion and action. Knowing when to emphasize passion and when to emphasize action are the keys to managing yourself, or others, toward achievement.
Gen. George S. Patton, Jr., (right) bids farewell to Gen. Bernard Montgomery (left) at the Palermo airportTactics for Asking for Volunteers: II
When we seek volunteers for specific, time-limited tasks, a common approach is just to ask the entire team at a meeting or teleconference. It's simple, but it carries risks. There are alternatives.
A spider plant, chlorophytum comosum.What Enough to Do Is Like
Most of us have had way too much to do for so long that "too much to do" has become the new normal. We've forgotten what "enough to do" feels like. Here are some reminders.

See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness and Critical Thinking at Work for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

Artist's concept of possible colonies on future mars missionsComing June 28: Tackling Hard Problems: I
Hard problems need not be big problems. Even when they're small, they can halt progress on any project. Here's Part I of an approach to working on hard problems by breaking them down into smaller steps. Available here and by RSS on June 28.
Artist's depiction of a dust storm on Mars with lightningAnd on July 5: Tackling Hard Problems: II
In this Part II of our look at solving hard problems, we continue developing properties of the solution, and look at how we get from the beginning to the end. Available here and by RSS on July 5.

Coaching services

I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenfBHrRceSOjzcsxexner@ChacisWoukMVlsOxroijoCanyon.com or (617) 491-6289, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.

Get the ebook!

Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:

Reprinting this article

Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info

Public seminars

The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many The Power Affect: How We Express Personal Powerpeople who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program. Here are some upcoming dates for this program:

Creating High Performance Virtual Teams
Many Creating High Performance Virtual Teamspeople experience virtual teams as awkward, slow, and sometimes frustrating. Even when most team members hail from the same nation or culture, and even when they all speak the same language, geographic dispersion or the presence of employees from multiple enterprises is often enough to exclude all possibility of high performance. The problem is that we lead, manage, and support virtual teams in ways that are too much like the way we lead, manage, and support co-located teams. In this program, Rick Brenner shows you how to change your approach to leading, managing, and supporting virtual teams to achieve high performance using Simons' Four Spans model of high performance. Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date for this program:

The Race to the South Pole: Ten Lessons for Project Managers
On 14The Race to the Pole: Ten Lessons for Project Managers December 1911, four men led by Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole. Thirty-five days later, Robert F. Scott and four others followed. Amundsen had won the race to the pole. Amundsen's party returned to base on 26 January 1912. Scott's party perished. As historical drama, why this happened is interesting enough, but to organizational leaders, business analysts, project sponsors, and project managers, the story is fascinating. Lessons abound. Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date for this program:

Follow Rick

Send email or subscribe to one of my newsletters Follow me at LinkedIn Follow me at Twitter, or share a tweet Follow me at Google+ or share a post Subscribe to RSS feeds Subscribe to RSS feeds
The message of Point Lookout is unique. Help get the message out. Please donate to help keep Point Lookout available for free to everyone.
21st Century Business TravelAre your business trips long chains of stressful misadventures? Have you ever wondered if there's a better way to get from here to there relaxed and refreshed? First class travel is one alternative, but you can do almost as well (without the high costs) if you know the tricks of the masters of 21st-century e-enabled business travel…
Go For It: Sometimes It's Easier If You RunBad boss, long commute, troubling ethical questions, hateful colleague? Learn what we can do when we love the work but not the job.
303 Tips for Virtual and Global TeamsLearn how to make your virtual global team sing.
101 Tips for Managing ChangeAre you managing a change effort that faces rampant cynicism, passive non-cooperation, or maybe even outright revolt?
101 Tips for Effective MeetingsLearn how to make meetings more productive — and more rare.
Exchange your "personal trade secrets" — the tips, tricks and techniques that make you an ace — with other aces, anonymously. Visit the Library of Personal Trade Secrets.