Zen is you – Be.

Anesthetized by Pleasantness

Posted in development, satisfaction, values by dave225 on October 9, 2009

It’s difficult to write a blog post about complacency.  Because to understand complacency, you have to put yourself into that mode of thinking.  And who the hell wants to be there?

(guess the relevance)

But complacency is such a paradox to me anyway – if you live in chaos, you are motivated to find normalcy.  If you find normalcy, it’s sooo easy to want to stay there – but you need to create chaos to escape.

(guess the relevance) –>

This is something I have to remind myself of frequently.  Professionally – implementing processes and measurements to get us to a state of optimization – there is a peace of mind in knowing that you can leave the office for a few days and the cogs will continue to turn.  But that allows me to disengage, which is both a blessing and a curse.  A curse because  I don’t get the daily fuel from innovation and problem solving.  A blessing because we’re doing greater things, more efficiently.   (Look at Thomas Edison.  His life’s work was inventing technology to make our lives easier.  That’s a reward unto itself, but in employing those inventions we achieve even more greatness with less effort. It wouldn’t make sense to reinvent the same things just for the sake of creating innovation energy.)

So how do you keep moving? One way is to scrap it all and start over.  Do what you did to get where you are, but do it someplace else.  You made your fortune perfecting the electric nose blower; now figure out how to harness energy from mosquitoes.

But maybe there’s another plateau to be reached that’s still out of sight.  Innovation and problem solving are great for the soul, great for business.  But only if they are addressing real problems.  As I write this, thinking about where I go from here (not that my work is finished or that I’ve perfected anything yet), it occurs to me that this quandry is a metaphor for my career.  I have always grown and succeeded by finding a need and filling it, as a logical extension of my official role.

So I guess my answer is in there.  Cycles of innovation & motivation ebb and flow, but if we’re looking for opportunities, we can organically keep growing, keep moving without drastic actions.

.. Which brings me around to Jim Collins’  How the Mighty Fall.  Collins makes the point, in a much more subtle way, that slow and steady wins the race.  Collins cites five stages of an organization’s decline:

  1. Hubris born of success
  2. Undisciplined pursuit of more
  3. Denial and risk of peril
  4. Grasping for salvation
  5. Capitulation to irrelevance

So, in terms of personal growth and motivation, the corresponding stages of marginalization and desperation:

  1. Not following a path of continuous learning and improvement
  2. Innovation for innovation’s sake, without adding value, without fitting a larger context
  3. Devaluing collaboration, succumbing to disengagement.
  4. Hasty decisions, get rich (or made)  quick ideas.
  5. Retirement, new career, etc.

Another personal point to grow on that Collins mentions – Individuals, like organizations need to examine why they are successful (defined as you like) rather than how they became successful.  Focus not on what things you’ve done to be successful (your deeds), but what about YOU has meant success (your character.)

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Your happy existence

Posted in Disclaimers by dave225 on August 26, 2008

This blog is about you controlling your own happiness in your job.  In a place where you spend a lot of your time and thought, yet control less of it than you might be willing to admit – if you can’t control the tactical, you can at least control your involvement and your reactions.  (Or, as we hope to reckon, your actions.  There will be no more reactions!)

I have to admit that I have a great job, don’t have a boss from hell, and I serve a noble cause. But I like to think that if I woke up tomorrow and found myself shoveling shit for a world-class moron that peddled guns to children – I would have the perspective I need to either be satisfied in that job or know when to quit. So the blog posts to follow may be a bit of “let them eat cake” – but I’ve eaten my share of moldy bread too. Sometimes you can close your eyes and hold your nose, and sometimes you have to risk going hungry rather than eat something that’ll kill you.

So I welcome comments that keep me from professing my Utopia (or, Nirvana*, i guess) as the real world.

*Also, I don’t really know anything about Buddhism. The “Zen” is the Yin & Yang of being happy in a capitalistic society. Creative license. And yes, I get the irony of spouting superficial business platitudes and calling it Zen … But the end is supposed to justify the means and the greater good is your ability to live happily in your existence… or to change it.

So I’m not too interested in comments about that, but they might prove to be entertaining.