the becoming: November 16, 2022

The Paradox of Change, Writing for Thinking, and Slow Motion Multitasking

photo of the Catskills in autumn Late afternoon in the Catskills, October 2022

Hi, I'm Andi and this is the becoming. You are reading these words because somewhere along the way you shared an interested in having this letter land in your inbox. Thank you, and welcome!

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With the short days and long nights here in the northern hemisphere, I’m feeling called to slow down and become a little more quiet, a bit more still. To let go of the efforting of the past year and allow the fruits of that work fall to the earth as compost, nutrients that will nourish whatever begins to emerge next spring. Some of this comes from inner stirrings, and the rest comes my first encounter with COVID last month. What a doozy that one is! At the tail end of a wonderful trip to upstate New York for the first in-person IxDA board retreat in over two years, COVID found me. It’s been humbling, frustrating, illuminating all at the same time. I’m feeling much better but being ultra-compassionate with myself as I learn what my body and tolerate, and what it can’t.

Building a Relationship with Change: Sneak Peak and Request for Feedback

In researching resistance in organizations, I’ve naturally had to spend a good deal of time understanding the nature of change. Management theory tends write about change from the perspective of the change agent, ignoring the experience of those that appear to be “resisting.” The change agent undoubtedly is on the “right” side of change, and with an 8 step process these change agents can marshal teams around a vision and march them forward in tandem. This all sounds good in theory but seems to never quite pan out in practice. It’s like the brute force approach to change, where the shortest distance between point A and B is a straight line.

But what if resistance was healthy? What if change happens by first becoming what you are, rather than becoming what you are not? The most compelling theory of change I’ve come across is the Paradoxical Theory of Change from the world of Gestalt Psychology. In first becoming what you are, you must integrate all parts of the system (either individual, team, or organization), including all the parts that have been disowned. When you have done that, and can be fully with your experience as you are, change is inevitable.

I wrote an article about it on Medium that is currently in draft form and, if you are so inclined, would love your feedback. I’ll leave the request open ended and simply share the link: Building a Relationship With Change (draft for feedback).

Thank you.

Zero Drafts

“How do I know what I think until I see what I say?” - E.M. Forster

When it comes to writing articles that get published I’m pretty slow as far as things go. It takes me a while to really understand what I think and put that into something coherent enough to be hopefully useful to others. A few weeks ago I came across a Twitter thread on Zero Drafts: a method for writing and working through what you know before starting on an actual draft of a paper, essay, short story, etc.

It’s been incredibly useful for writing more and getting to the core of what I think I know. I can also see how this process could be useful not just for academic writing, but in a business context as well. I think back my time as an executive and trying to connect the work of the teams I led to the larger company vision. Not just in terms of OKRs, but how we were deeply relating to what the business was trying to achieve and the ways in which we were doing that. At that time I worked mostly in decks (thanks, business school), which I think is a hinderance to really gaining clarity of thinking. If I had known about Zero Drafts I think I would have gotten to clarity sooner, and the decks I used to communicate would have been more succinct and coherent.

What helps you understand what you think?

Slow Multitasking

Jason Mesut shared this TED Talk on Slow Motion Multitasking and it really resonated with how I work. It gave me permission to hold a lot of projects simultaneously and dip into them as I feel called to. I use Muse App for a lot of my early explorations, and have organized the high level boards into which I can throw materials as I come across them, to be digested and organized whenever I come around to it.

Mapping Emotions

Marc Brackett, founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence created an app a few years ago called Mood Meter. The primary focus was on building emotional awareness and management via a simple interface that helped people to check-in to their emotions and expand their emotional vocabulary.

Last week Marc, along with a team of engineers from Pinterest, released a new app called “How We Feel.” Based on the same premise as Mood Meter, the new “journal for your well being” is expansive in what it offers. Mood check-ins are still a primary interaction, but now the app also includes incredibly useful 1 - 2 minute videos with exercises that can help people learn to modulate their moods and shift into more positive states. I’m thoroughly impressed by what they’ve put together and hope that it reaches as many people as possible.

If you are in a part of the world that celebrates Thanksgiving, I hope it was filled with belonging, nourishment, and rest. And to everyone out there, may the last month of the Gregorian year be easeful and kind for you.

See you in December.