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Graymatter Sunday Edition: 2023-10-29
Ideas, mindsets, and tools that bring out your best self and unlock high performance.
Welcome to the Sunday edition of my newsletter, where I summarize ideas, mindsets, and tools that strengthen self-leadership, performance, and knowledge of technology shaping our world.
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💡 Idea of the Week - Teaching It
Earlier this week, I shared a post, “Learn by Teaching It,” that positioned the idea that the person who learns the most is the teacher. Teaching can take many forms, from delivering an informal presentation at your company to teaching at a university. If you are seeking to grow in an area that is essential to strengthening your value proposition, I highly recommend you identify ways to practice your craft through teaching.
This week, I started a new teaching experience as a Learning Facilitator for the Artificial Intelligence: Business Strategies and Applications course at Berkeley Haas School of Business. Hosting office hour sessions and collaborating with eager students will deepen my competency in applying AI to business problems. I strategically chose this opportunity as it aligns with my experience and path to using AI in novel ways.
How and what will you teach to grow your expertise?
This week, I started reading Master of Change: How to Excel When Everything is Changing - Including You by Brad Stulberg. I learned about this book after listening to the Rich Roll podcast interview with Brad Stulberg. Your ability to embrace and adapt to change is essential for experiencing a life of meaning and success. I will capture my book notes and key nuggets with a post in the Books section of this site.
Stulberg shares a mental model of envisioning your identity as a house where multiple rooms represent parts of who you are.
How are you adapting to change to become the person of your vision?
I found author Robert Greene in 2017, and his books have significantly influenced my mindset. Ryan Holiday was Robert Greene’s research assistant after he dropped out of college in LA. During this short podcast, Robert Greene shares ten Stoic laws for living a better life.
How will you apply one of these Stoic ideas this coming week?
In March of this year, I read the book Burn the Boats by Matt Higgins. The main idea is to go all in on plan A to pursue your dream. It does not mean you have not processed risk, as you do this at the beginning of the journey. This book guided me through a mental process of where to take my career next after my CIO job ended in December 2022. In early 2023, I was in a stressful and uncertain state after tech company after tech company laid off top talent. I then asked myself the following question: “If I was on my deathbed, what would I regret not doing?” There is a line in the book that captures this point:
The greatest regret people have on their deathbed is that they never pursued their boldest dreams.” - Burn the Boats by Matt Higgins
The answer was instant. I would regret not pursuing leadership and performance coaching. Many years ago, I felt the sensation of coaching and how it aligned with my purpose of helping others in their career. But I was not in a courageous state to go all in on evolving my persona to become a coach. Burn the Boats challenged my mindset and was one of the catalysts that shaped my current direction. Ed Mylett’s interview with Matt Higgins explores the key ideas of the book and Matt’s journey on how he burned the boat as a teenager.
You can also review my book notes here.
What is the metaphorical boat that you will burn to experience your full potential?
🧠 Body - Mind - Spirit
I found meditation teacher, psychologist, and author Tara Brach, Ph.D., years ago when I was experiencing feelings of stress, anxiety, trauma, and a loss of identity. These feelings were limiting my creativity and performance at work and my happiness. I have found her meditations soothing and an opportunity to reflect and relax. Tara Brach’s website includes an extensive library of resources and guided mediations for free.
Presence is a concept I learned more about recently during my coaching certification process. It challenged the habit of multitasking throughout the day by staying focused on what is happening right now. This deeper sense of awareness strengthens the attention to feel awake and alive.
How will you practice presence this coming week?
🚀 Career Strategy
Strategically managing your career is critical to your financial livelihood and relevance in an ever-changing world. Every job and industry sector will be influenced by artificial intelligence. Understanding the AI exposure to jobs will help you adapt and leverage these tools for higher productivity and impact. The Harvard Business Review article, Is Your Job AI Resilient, shares the results of a comprehensive study to understand the effects of AI on businesses and jobs.
How will you adapt your career strategy in the age of AI?
Career transitions and reinvention are life-long skills, given the accelerated pace of technological change and highly connected global economies. Today’s environment requires constant career reinvention to remain relevant. Changing jobs or evolving into a new identity can be exhilarating and scary. In most cases, this journey of reinvention is one we take alone, as institutions are not obligated to help us. Change can be challenging, given that there is a loss of professional identity that has fueled our success to date. But shedding a previous identity may be required to adapt and land your next opportunity. It reminds me of the quote from Marshall Goldsmith, “What got you here won’t get you there.” In the HBR article Why Career Transition is So Hard, Herminia Ibarra states that the problem of change lies in the methods, not in our minds:
“Career change is iterative. You can’t line everything up in advance. You have to figure things out over time and make adjustments as you go.”
This approach suggests hustling, activating networks, and trying several different things simultaneously without settling on one. It’s through learning and adapting that enables exploration and discovery of multiple selves. Ibarra’s research reveals three ways to make the transition process easier:
Diverge and delay - experiment with divergent possibilities while delaying commitment to any one of them. In doing so, you’ll have to think more creatively and obtain more information about yourself and your options.
Exploit and explore - while working in your current job, explore options and gain experience through a side gig until something new becomes a viable path.
Bridge and bond - Current connections are not usually helpful for a career change. You must bridge your network into weak ties - people you don’t know well. Leveraging weak ties increases your learning and chances of landing a new job. Bonding is deepening our relationships with people who will be there to support us through this transformational process.
What actions will you be taking to make the career transition process easier?
A few months ago, I started playing with Pi - a personal assistant chatbot from Inflection. Interestingly, you can collaborate with this AI chatbot using multiple channels - web, Pi mobile app, WhatsApp, iMessage, Instagram, and Facebook. This AI service is focused on personalizing the experience.
The Welcome screen has several use cases that you can quickly engage with. Exploring AI tools is a learning process that gives you ideas on how to use them to improve productivity at work and beyond.
How did the Pi personal assistant help you?
🔁 Rituals and Routines
Designing rituals and routines is an effective strategy for executing tasks to evolve into a created identity and the outcomes associated with that identity. I talk about this in the post Know Your Identity and Future Self. Rituals and routines also improve productivity by eliminating constant decision-making throughout the day. Let me share an example. I have an identity of being physically fit, so my ritual each evening is to pack my gym bag and set the coffee maker to auto-brew, thereby reducing the friction of getting out of the house early each morning. This visual cue of the gym bag and smelling the coffee is my action signal. I have been practicing this ritual for more than fifteen years.
Rituals and routines also help to reinforce your values and desired behaviors. Simply put, rituals keep you on track with who you want to become. You may need to pause your rituals when you require a state of creative thinking and transformational change to set a new direction.
What ritual must you operationalize to achieve a goal or evolve your identity?
Sundays are ideal for shaping next week
I use Sundays to reflect on the past week by reviewing achievements against the goals I set the previous Sunday and themes that emerged from my journal entries. Reflection and thinking about your personal vision can create energy and sharpen the strategic lens to guide where you will allocate time next week. Sundays are your escape from the daily machine jam-packed with execution.
What is one action you will take next week to contribute to your personal vision - an aspiration goal or a ritual that aligns with your created identity?
Please share this post with colleagues who could benefit from a weekly dose of ideas, mindsets, and tools to strengthen self-leadership or guide a transformational change.
I look forward to hearing how you put one of these newsletter nuggets into practice.
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