Once in a Blue Moon

Which is tonight (August 22, 2021); a Blue Moon is the third Full Moon of a season that has four full moons (the other Blue Moon is the rare occasion of a second full moon in the same calendar month). I spend a lot of time looking out over the horizon at the lake house, watching the sunset, clouds cross the sky, and while not as often the moon rising and blaring down from the sky. I cannot remember where I read this recently but staring out in the distance (for instance over the horizon) is good for our mental wellness; for me, it’s a reminder to step away from my screen and see the larger picture of how the puzzle pieces fit together.

While gazing out over the lake this week I had a chance to pick apart some of the things that have left me armoured up and guarded recently. Starting James Clear’s Atomic Habits I’m not sure when or why the armouring started, but that 1% change everyday left me guarded, and not my best self.

As part of team formation for the class I co-teach we ask students to complete four surveys. I completed these surveys not only so I could share my results with the students but as a way of learning more about myself. The four surveys include:

I’ve captured my results in my Engineering Handbook (which is currently a Note as I still need to find a home space, thinking DropBox or GoogleDoc but maybe Evernote – please send any advice you have for this). The one I reflected most about his week was my expressiveness from Bolton and Bolton’s assessment. Wearing my heart on my sleeve and sharing my passions is a strength and a weakness. Sometimes my temper gets the best of me, and when I’m not my best self my temper flares.

Listening to Charles Duhigg on Brené Brown’s Dare To Lead podcast I got to thinking about the Serenity Prayer. Instead of asking a god or spirits to help me through a challenging situation, I’m going to demand that I hold myself accountable. I will repeat in my head

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

Suffice to say not being the best version of myself has made me a bit of a shitty human lately. Glennon Doyle’s instagram post snapped me out of it this week. With a little self-awareness and reflection (and a whole lot of tears) I’m going to do the things to make amends. And while I cannot right my wrongs. I’m also not asking for forgiveness. I’m saying sorry for the things I did wrong and the mistakes I made. As I was reminded in Eric Grientens’s Resilience, Yoda says ‘No. Try Not, Do. Or Do Not. There is no try.

This is my promise to you (which is to say to me) – I will not try to do better. I will do better. 

What I Listened To

Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead Podcast with Charles Duhigg – on Habits and Productivity
I’ve read most of the books both of these thoughtful and intelligent individuals wrote. Listening to them bounce their ideas off each other and lean in to learn from one and other was a great way for me to think differently about working with Praxis 3 (the course I co-teach) this year. It brought together ideas from Adam Grant’s Think Again and Priya Parker’s The Art of Gathering, to make sure we come with an open-mind, open-heart but also to put purpose around why we’re hosting meetings, lectures, and labs. It also got me thinking more about psychological safety (and I heard from Grant on some other podcast I cannot remember), which is founded on two virtues trust and respect. As the leaders of this course we need to create an environment founded on both trust and respect. Trust, by showing we are courageous through our vulnerabilities, and respect by recognizing our common ground and our differences. Everyone deserves an equal voice at the table, as the leader it is my job to ensure that everyone gets equal time to speak up to make this course the best possible version.

The Growth Equation hosted by Steve Magness and Brad Stulberg – The Art and Practice of Science
I love the books that Magness and Stulberg wrote together, Peak Performance and The Passion Paradox, and their weekly newsletter, but for some reason I had not listened to their podcast until this week. I’ve been missing out. I went back to one of their earlier episodes discussing science, and in a way pseudo-science. Interestingly enough, Stulberg speaks to the same case I discussed last week – the retracting of Andrew Wakefield’s study on the MMR vaccine and autism. Stulberg adds important insight; despite the retraction of the study the idea that vaccines cause autism is still pervasive in popular media. As Magness and Stulberg tease out, it’s one of the challenges we face as science plays out publicly instead of behind closed doors. While access to information is good, the idea that we think we are experts from searching (compared to researching) has devalued science the scientific process. Why is it important to understand the difference between good and bad science,

“The voices of those high in confidence and certainty are getting amplified more than those who are humble and expressing nuance.”

I’m stoked to see they have a new book coming, The Practice of Groundness. I’ll definitely be taking a day off to read this when it arrives in my mailbox!

What I Read

Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment by Daniel KahnemanOlivier Sibony & Cass R. Sunstein
I finished up this book early in the week and was left thinking about how I’ll bring the topic of noise into lectures to help students create better projects and stronger teams. There were just too many good takeaways that the best I can offer is to go read or listen to this book yourself. One thing was clear, Adam Grant’s Think Again and staying open-minded, listening to other’s ideas, thoughts, and opinions is the first step in managing noise.

Resilience: Hard-won Wisdom for Living a Better Life by Eric Greitens
My step-son recommended this book and it was not at all what I expected. I went in with a biased view (thanks again Noise for helping me to be self-aware) from reading Jacko Willink’s book, Discipline Equals Freedom (scroll down to find the book). I thought it would be about tough love and hard lessons. While it was about hard lessons the book was like an arm-around-your-shoulder hug to remind you that it’s going to be ok. It will only be ok because you have the power to take back the control of your life because you have good friends and mentors by your side who will hold you accountable and support you when and where you need it most. The book is a series of letters to his friend, Zach Walker, categorized by theme (happiness, vocation, practice, pain, etc.). To start I’ll take lessons from identity in writing the first assignment for my course and philosophy to guide where I want to read deeply next. This book has a wonderful balance of science but is not written academically. I imagine the audiobook might be great for people looking for something soothing to put them to sleep.

The Grishaverse by Leigh Bardugo
I love reading stories to fall asleep. I started watching Shadow and Bone with Rol and fell in love with the story of Alina Starkov (and no, I’m not giving away any more than that you need to read or watch for yourself). These books have received mixed reviews but they are up in some of my favourite books (to each his own). I loved the leading females of the book, the good versus evil, the lessons of resilience as major characters were lost. I love getting lost in a series where you become friends with the characters. It’s bittersweet when the series comes to an end and you have to say goodbye.