It helps me to create little rules that provide default decisions for common and unusual situations. A couple of years ago, I wrote down my little rules for working life. Since then, I’ve collected a few more…
- Speak the unspoken.
- Have difficult conversations.
- Find something remarkable, and remark on it, every day.
- Not everything needs to be said.
- Be intentional: for me, it takes reflection and constant conscious effort for my words and actions to reflect my values.
- Consider your influencers (the people who influence you), and choose them as intentionally as you can.
- Have a plan. Learn something. Change the plan.
- Play the long game. Sometimes we have to do stuff that we don’t care about in the short-term, in order to meet expectations from people who decide if we get paid or if we get privileges. Even while we do the stupid short-term things, we can sometimes set ourselves up for some potentially awesome, or at least potentially meaningful future.
- Focus on the outcome. Imagine what happens after you reach your goal. Then what? Often the real goal is the next thing, or the thing after that.
- When you hit a wall, step back and learn. Learn more about the problem. Who else sees it as a problem? Who made this wall anyhow? It’s probably there for a reason and the problem might be an unintended consequence.
- Get to know the people. The system is made of people, and usually those aren’t the same people who made the system.
- Write stuff down. Sometimes what you think you heard wasn’t the same thing other people heard.
- Wait a week and ask again. Or a month. Or just listen for the moment when someone else raises the same problem, and chime in.