Back in the day when I would look for a new position within Microsoft, one of my guiding questions was “what can I learn?” It was one of several criteria I used to evaluate opportunities. Rather than move to a new position doing the same thing, I preferred to find roles where I could both contribute and learn something new.
There wasn’t a plan, really; I wasn’t looking for something specific. I would just look at a job opportunity and see if there was something interesting for me to pick up. I think my career, both during, and post-Microsoft has benefited as a result.
It comes to mind because that approach feels like a huge opportunity in these “interesting” times.
Most meditation practices have you focus on your breath as part of the exercise. It’s always there (we hope), it’s always changing just a little, and it’s relatively easy to focus your attention on it. Some practitioners will say focus on where you feel it “the most” — being your stomach, your lungs, whatever.
When the monkey-mind isn’t successful in dragging me away from it, I focus on my sinuses. I find it absolutely fascinating what happens when I do.
In recent weeks I’ve run across at least two essays — one from a writer whom I respect greatly — that call into question those of us that try to maintain and share a positive outlook during these turbulent times.
The message seems to boil down to this: if you have the option of expressing some amount of positivity then you’re clearly not paying attention to what’s going on around you.
Several years ago I installed both the Headspace and Insight Timer apps on my phone. They’ve been my go-to tools for meditation ever since; Headspace for Andy Puddicomb’s gently guided meditations, and Insight Timer for those times when I’m just looking for a “do it myself” approach. Both are great, though it’s Headspace I’ve purchased for others as gifts.
What I realized, through, is that when it comes to guided meditation — the phase I happen to be in currently — I kinda suck.
I’m reading Chip Conley’s book “Wisdom at Work” about reintroducing the wisdom of older, more experienced individuals into today’s fast moving and high-tech workforce. He coins the term “modern elder” for those with wisdom and knowledge to share with (typically) younger generations.
It’s great if you can have an individual to act as your mentor, which is exactly what part of this whole “modern elder” thing really is. It’s also cool if you find yourself in a position where you can act as a mentor by virtue of having experience that you’re willing and able to share in ways that are useful to others. I know I still, specifically, want both: even at 61 I’m looking for individuals from whom I can model and learn, and I’m looking for opportunities to share what I’ve learned with others.
I was recently interviewed by Josh Spector, the man behind For The Interested, a curated newsletter of interesting articles and other information that Josh both finds and occasionally writes himself. There’s an associated For The Interested Facebook group made up of newsletter subscribers, and as part of an experiment to learn more about the people in it, Josh has been conducting a few short interviews.
The first of the four noble truths, as articulated by The Buddha, depending on how you translate it, is simply this: Life is suffering. In recent months it seems that in an above-average number of my circle of friends and acquaintances there has been an above-average amount of what can only be termed suffering. From … Read more
The Charge probably came the closest to a structure that I could identify with for my attempt at self discovery. Of particular value were his thought exercises at the end of each chapter which I frequently used as jumping off points for my own processes. Many books present formulas – take these X steps and you’ll find your answer. That’s not how I work, and I didn’t follow Brendon’s formula either. Rather I cherry-pick from whatever I’m reading that which resonates with me and take it from there. The Charge probably had the most cherries.
This came out of left field; “The Artist’s Way”
is a book specifically
aimed at getting blocked artists unblocked and doing their
art once again. Anyone who’s written any significant
amount of software will agree that there can be true
artistry involved – rare perhaps, but absolutely possible
– and it’s something that I’ve believed for a long time.
This book did two things for me: first, it allowed me, or
reminded me, to apply that artistry mindset to what I do
today, which in turn allows me to value it, and create it,
in a completely different light. Second is that it
introduced me to a couple of practices that I’m finding
surprisingly very valuable; the most valuable being what
the book calls “morning pages” – a daily writing exercise;
as I said writing is one of the best ways I have to work
through my thoughts. Much of the book actually doesn’t
apply – many of the problems it addresses are problems I
simply don’t have (for which I am grateful). However putting
myself in that artist’s mindset was by itself very
valuable. To build on the cherry-picking metaphor, The
Artist’s Way didn’t have as many cherries, but they were
Here’s a rundown of some of the rest of books I spent time with, in no particular order.
As I’ve mentioned before I don’t have a specific “Big Why” that drives me. There’s no tangible goal I’m driven to accomplish with my life, no dream that I’m aware of that I’m heading towards.
Rather, I’ve identified what I’ve come to call my “Big What” – the characteristics of how I want to live, and what I enjoy doing. The other way to look at that is that I’ve got a pretty reasonable picture of what I want my journey to look like, without really having any particular destination in mind.
In my recent sabbatical/reboot I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what it is I want to do, and why I want to do it.
What I enjoy doing is actually pretty simple: playing with technology. As I once put it long ago, I enjoy making personal computers and related technologies “dance”. That doesn’t mean I hop on to every new technology or latch on to every latest and greatest fad, but it does mean that I pay attention to most and am not hesitant to try something new when I think it’s interesting and when I think it’s “ready”.
As part of my two month sabbatical this year I’ve been thinking a lot about where I’m headed. I’ve jokingly referred to this as figuring out what I want to be when I grow up, because in many ways I’m so very fortunate to have such a large palette of possibilities to choose from. It’s basically involved a fair amount of reading and a lot of thought and introspection. It’s also involving a fair amount of writing, some of which I’ll be capturing here.
The reading has been varied, and I’ll save the reading list for another day, but at around the end of the first month I had a realization that helped get me unstuck.
[dropcap]A[/dropcap] couple of business-related things, ultimately inconsequential, conspired to have me decide that I needed to spend some time simply being thankful. A few days ago I devoted my morning’s meditation to gratitude, and the longer I thought the longer my list became. Then later in the day the topic of luck came up. It’s … Read more