Playing for Team Human today: Susan Basterfield and Anthony Cabraal. Susan and Anthony share the open secrets of bottom-up collaboration as we celebrate the publication of Enspiral’s book, Better Work Together. It’s a conversation about the power of working together, building on ideas “good enough to try,” and creating a space where it’s “safe to fail.”
Looking for collaborative and participatory ways to create social change? Enspiral has collected and opened up its learnings for all to replicate.
Responding to a request for advice via blog post, instead of email.
Your reactions tell people more about your character than your actions
When all is said and done, the person who holds you back the most in your life and career is… you
Once you’ve got that PhD or have worked for Google, people aren’t asking for ‘three years project management experience’, and the like.
Perhaps I’m becoming middle-aged, but it seems that a lot of the problems with today’s society is that people don’t stand for anything other than individualism and whatever late-stage capitalism can offer them.
There’s a reason I travel so much. It’s to meet new people, be exposed to ideas that might not always be shared online, and to experience places that open my mind. These days, we gain a competitive advantage by connecting the dots in new and novel ways. That depends, of course, on knowing where the dots are.
In my new role I really had to think hard about what strategies I use to stay productive. This was working until I changed teams and subsequently work. Being a lot more collaborative and involving a centralised response system, I have tried (and failed) a number of strategies to make it all work for me. One approach was to create a Google Sheet, which was organise into categories and had a status column which allowed me to prioritise.
I liked this setup as it allowed me to easily change the statuses and add links to further information. The issue is that it involves a lot of doubling up between systems.
In the end, I am getting what needs to be done completed at the moment, but I am still looking for something more productive.
If no-one’s asking if you can help them out with something that you already specialise in, then it’s going to be long, hard struggle to be seen as an expert, get gigs, and pay your mortgage.
We really only have threads — threads of experience, threads that bind and that connect us. Human history — our hopes, fears and traumas — are just a blink of time on this planet of 4.5 billion years. So to me, this one connection, this one relationship that gave this one person joy and laughter and insight and tears is enough for me. It’s the reason I’m here. It’s what I do.
Much like the principles of building muscle mass — the way your body repairs or replaces damaged muscle fibres after a workout by forming strong, new protein strands — your mistakes do not you weaken you, they build you up. They solidify you. They give you emotional and mental muscle. Or at least they should. Because you have to own your mistakes. You have to claim them and allow that destruction/reconstruction process to take place. It’s incredibly empowering.
Own who you are:
At a certain point in this working life, you realise that there really is no place to hide. You either own — completely own who you are, the nature and personality of your journalism and your understanding of what you are here to do — or I think you fade away. When I started on radio in Melbourne in 2001, the legendary Jon Faine gave me two pieces of advice. He told me that daily flow radio “was a marathon, not a sprint”, and he said that on air I had to be myself — not some persona, not some projection, but relentlessly myself. The listeners would find me out in a trice if I was not.
And regularly take stock of where you are at:
If one thing has stood me in good stead over the last 28 years, it has been a deliberate decision to periodically sit down and take inventory of what I’m doing well, what I need to improve, where the gaps in my skillset and knowledge base are and how I need to fill them. I’d urge you to do it too. If it helps, find someone you know, admire and trust and who knows your work well and ask them to do this exercise with you. Never be afraid of self-scrutiny. Don’t wait for someone who doesn’t have your best interests at heart to point out your shortcomings — get there first and do something about them.
This post is a reminder that so often there is more at play than we are often willing to recognise.
I think Americans’ homes are designed for that – they’re designed in ways that encourage you to fill up the closets and garages and spare bedrooms with stuff. There are catalogs upon catalogs with products and websites upon websites with ideas of how to buy things and build things that transform rooms to your liking.
We have worked at home (and with great frequency, it feels, worked on the road) for about a decade now. And the typical home or apartment – no matter its size or location – isn’t really designed for that.
Productivity is the amount of useful output created for every hour of work we do.
The way to ‘win’ at life and business is to still be doing what you enjoy and deem important when everyone else has crashed and burned.
Remaining true to your feelings appears to be key – numerous studies show those who report regularly having to display emotions at work that conflict with their own feelings are more likely to experience emotional exhaustion.
Of course, everybody needs to be professional at work and handling difficult clients and colleagues is often just part of the job. But what’s clear is that putting yourself in their shoes and trying to understand their position is ultimately of greater benefit to your own well-being than voicing sentiments that, deep down, you don’t believe.
I am not against the ‘future of things’, AI and changes in work, but I think that we need to do more work to understand and appreciate such changes. For me, this involves:
- Asking questions as a part of critical reflection
- Learning from and through others (as you touch on elsewhere)
- Continually engaging in new challenges to disrupt habits
- Get a better boss
Entrepreneur ≠ Freelancer
Improve your tools and your skills
Find an industry that wants you
Becoming a category of one
Focus on the smallest viable audience
The confidence to say ‘yes’ and the strength to say ‘no’
The challenge of free
The discipline of prospecting
Get better clients
This is a thought-provoking episode, which raises many questions.
All of the most awesome people I know have nothing like a work-life ‘balance’. Instead, they work hard, play hard, and tie that to a mission bigger than themselves.
Whether that’s true for the staff on targets in Amazon warehouses is a different matter, of course. But for knowledge workers, I think it’s spot-on.
The evidence is unequivocal: job-related anxiety is a growing health crisis with repercussions for your mental and physical well-being.
People need to choose their employer not just for salary and promotion opportunities but on the basis of whether the job will be good for their psychological and physical health. Business leaders should measure the health of their workforce, not just profits.
- Everyday is Groundhog Day
- Build a ‘bliss station’
- Forget the noun, follow the verb
- Make gifts
- The ordinary + extra attention = extra-ordinary
- Art is FOR life
- You’re allow to change your mind
- When in doubt, tidy up
- Demon’s hate fresh air so take a walk
- Spend time on something that will outlast you
I find Kleon one of those writers (and artists) who you can come back to again as a point of reflection.
Work has ruled our lives for centuries, and it does so today more than ever. But a new generation of thinkers insists there is an alternative
Post-work is about the future, but it is also bursting with the past’s lost possibilities.
Read the text version here.