February 28, 2010
When I first became interested in blogging it was because I was an avid reader of Seth’s blog, I knew one person who blogged (my friend Willis), and because it existed on my edge. But that wasn’t really the why I wanted to blog…
I recently described the why to my father-in-law (Ed):
“I take in so much information on a daily basis, in the form of interactions, reading, and listening, that I want to process and resolve what I learn each day (or week) against my framework for life. Although that might seem weird, for me it’s about adapting and evolving with each new piece of information. As such, I must process and store what I learn (and how I learned it) so that I can reference it for future reflection, lest I become anxious from internalizing too much stuff! It’s about leveraging my opportunities to live life as positively as I can.”
Blogging has allowed me to tame the fire hose of my thoughts and distill them constructively in the form of advice (to myself). The process of sharing my blog allows me to receive feedback and create references to topics when they resurface!
Although I stumbled upon the importance of building a framework of ideas, real experts, like David Allen, have written extensively on the subject. From his blog:
“…we’re overloaded – not with information, but with meaning to be mined. So the solution is not about slicing and dicing and reorganizing data – it’s about how quickly and discretely we can decide its specific meaning to us…and most of us weren’t taught how to get fast and comfortable with clarifying meaning…”
David provides practical tips on improving productivity in his book Getting Things Done through the processes of Collecting, Processing, Organizing, and Reviewing. My long view advice is similar:
- Observe and collect interactions – what could have been done different for an improved interaction?
- Process and clarify – how does this fit into and/or change your framework?
- Distill the key learnings so that they can be referenced – can you describe in a few sentences the crucial nuggets?
- Find the discipline to do it regularly so growth does not stagnate.
Blogging might not be for everyone, but blogging provides me the discipline to do this knowledge work regularly. I care about my consistency to my few readers (aka stats!) and the importance of legacy (the long view!).
Are you engaging in disciplined knowledge work for personal growth?
March 24, 2009
Last week at a volunteer event, an acquaintance remarked that she sees me regularly at the gym and that I work harder than anyone else she knows. I responded that I play intensely, but that I consider time in the gym effortless because it brings me such joy. Her remark made me recognize how important perspective and being selective is in our lives.
In early 2007, I found a new mentor after she gave a talk at a Women’s Leadership Conference on the subject of Finding Meaning in Your Work. She told the audience that her grandmother had often said that “she never worked a day in her life because work was not a chore – there was real meaning.” Her advice was simple: find a place where there is equal give and take to get joy. Reassess your situation frequently: Does it still work for you? Is it a collaborative environment? Are there sufficient ethics for you? And lastly, create a personal legacy.
Her remarks made me realize how important it is to choose a career that that is interesting, joyful, and provides occasional exhilaration. Fortunately, I have found all those attributes in my career in technology development. If I had not made key selections along the way, it perhaps could have been quite different. In high school, I thought I would eventually have a career in law (I loved debate and all debaters think they will become attorneys). I studied chemical engineering because I liked math/science, it was the “family business” (I am a 3rd generation chemical engineer), and I had to study something before law. When it came time to apply for law school, my advisors urged me to consider graduate chemical engineering – they encouraged me because they saw my enthusiasm and talent. Although it was a hard choice at the time (yet not too hard when I recalled my boredom in a legal writing course), over the long view I am very grateful for the redirection – my career has been so much fun! I have worked on and solved interesting problems, learned from other technologists who are much more knowledgeable than myself, and shared in the success of technology commercialization. Oh, and I met my husband too! 😉
Although there is always some drudgery, I have found that maintaining a happy disposition throughout allows for the exhilarating parts to far outweigh any recollection of drudgery and that creating a personal legacy allows the exhilaration to persist. Perspective and selectivity are key. Life is too short to be miserable.
Have you found meaning in your work?