I published my first essay on the new site that Adam made for me. I haven’t shared it publicly yet, and I’ve rather enjoyed that feeling. “Here’s a thing and it’s just for me” is a vibe I want to pursue more of.
The essay is called “The question we’re afraid to ask,” and it’s about how I’m adjusting the approach I’m taking my own growth this year. If you geek out over ways of finding your own right path, I hope it’s medicine for you.
Since I started sharing publicly about my explorations in the realm of people-first growth, I’ve been trying to contain it to the business and organizational context. But when I start to write what is true, so much that comes out is extremely personal.
I’ve been fascinated and perplexed by this. But the thing it’s teaching me is something I already knew. You can’t grow anything at all without growing the whole thing. There is no such thing as growing the fruit without growing the branches; growing the trunk without growing the roots.
In some ways, we are the gardener, tending to our particular plant. But in others, we are the roots themselves. The ways in which we grow are the ways in which the whole tree grows.
Sometimes I worry that I’m growing too slowly for the world around me. And also maybe, too wild.
Consider a wild thing I started: a Winter 2021 tour of my digital brain. First stop will be to The Fractal Gardens: a place for tending to the smallest unit we have any control over—ourselves. (I’ve only barely begun; more to come, ever slowly.)
What is the point of doing this? To reflect on what I’ve learned this quarter, certainly. But also, to prove to myself that growth is not only something to be carefully and meticulously planted and tended to. It is also wild and prolific and happens just because we’re here and we’re we.
There is no expansion without contraction.
Mara Glatzel points out that in much of the western world, we love expansion and avoid contraction. We love being productive and getting things done. We get uncomfortable when the inevitable fallow season follows, always proportionate to the amount of expansion we experienced.
This is true on both a macro and micro level. And so we try to optimize for constant expansion and shortcut whatever contraction is the inevitable result. We do this in our organizations and in our lives. We do this throughout the year, throughout the months, and throughout the days.
I’m trying to notice these expansions and contractions within myself. I want to understand and honor them on a personal level so that I can then understand and honor them in my teammates and in the company as a whole.
Two highly practical books I’m reading right now: Deep Work by Cal Newport and Outcomes Over Output by Josh Seiden. They are both excellent; they have each been a gift in the skills and perspectives they are helping me develop.
At the same time, I’ve found myself being pulled into prioritizing productivity and results above all as I’m incorporating this knowledge into my habits and behavior. Productivity and results aren’t bad things, of course. And it’s certainly not the fault of these books that I’m tempted to optimize entirely around them.
But it’s interesting to me that we rarely question the primacy of those two values. They are important, to be sure. We need them if we want to reach any particular summit. But if we want to shift the values of our organizations to take a more “people-first” approach to growth, we need to (as another wonderful teacher, Jocelyn Glei, says) “know what we’re steeped in.”
Thanks so much for reading.
‘Til next time,