Bi-Weeklynotes S2 Ep4

On belonging, praise and how I talk to my imposter voice.

Bi-Weeklynotes S2 Ep4
Jackson Eaves on Unsplash

Three things I did over the past fortnight:

  • Last time I talked about interviewing every member of my quite large team — I treated it like a research project and in the last two weeks I analyzed and played back findings from my team interviews. It felt good to share some work though I’m still figuring out what the next practical step is for it.
  • I also consolidated a bunch of research into some problem statements for our users, and ran a short survey to confirm / prioritize with them. Again, still working out what to do next with this but it’s a start.
  • I continued with my goal of building relationships outside of my team, and my org, by attending workshops and setting up one-on-ones with various people.

Three things I struggled with:

  • This week my constant companion, my imposter voice, has been telling me something over and over again: “you don’t have a strong enough personality or a loud enough voice to make change happen.” I try to counter that voice as if I were talking to a friend: “Maybe not, but change doesn’t just need strong personalities. It also needs people who show up, do the work, and lead by example.” My plan is to keep saying it until I believe it.
  • I got feedback on a presentation I did, which was great and it really helped me focus how I think about the problem. But I felt a bit disheartened by it after and in my head kept going back to how I got a lot of constructive points but not a lot of praise. So I’ve been sitting with and reflecting on whether my (natural and normal) need for validation is useful in a work setting. How do I honour my own needs without asking for false accolades?
  • I’ve been trying to figure out how to best facilitate a workshop I’m running next week. I’ve done lots of these but usually in organizations where I’ve been there for a while and no longer feel like an outsider. I’ve got a lot of questions and discussion points that I hope will spark some conversation, but what they if they fall flat? What if I’ve got the questions wrong? What if I’m missing the point?

Five things that have inspired me (I couldn’t keep it to three):

  • I listened to an old podcast, Design Matters with Brene Brown as a guest, about belonging. Listening to it was a revelation to me — I realized how a lot of my anxiety over the past few years have come from feeling like I should belong, but don’t. Which is natural when you’ve moved countries, cities and organizations several times. I’ve been trying to ruminate in this thought: I belong to myself and that’s enough.
  • In his newsletter from a couple of week ago, Will Myddleton talked about the four burners theory which I’ve never heard of before. And I can’t get it out of my head. I’ve realized I definitely have my friend burner off (ugh), and the other three are on but not on full gas. Now that I know that, I’m not sure what I’m meant to do with the information but it’s helped me feel less guilty for not investing in building friendships these days.
  • I’ve been pondering this twitter thread from Ben Holliday and subsequent blog post, about Mezzanine Level Service Design and how it’s not always useful to map the current state in detail — you should focus on a point that is somewhere between the current and future state. I love this idea but worry I’m not enough of a visionary to see a future without knowing the current state in detail. Still, it’s helping me think about what the most useful next step is.
  • Somehow I came across this article on the Agile Family Meeting and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Being a parent to two small kids is full of exhausting routines and rituals and I’m always trying to think of ways to make the mundane parts of parenting more meaningful. Not sure this is something I’m going to start doing soon, but it’s something to think about and a good reminder that agile really is a mindset that you with you into life.
  • Finally, this is such a lovely and important piece on power and design from my old colleague Meg.

Reading, watching, listening

  • I just finished reading the Unicorn Project which was a good intro to DevOps. Although it was a bit cheesy sometimes, I loved the fiction format, I don’t know how I would’ve gotten through a book about tech without a storyline.
  • I also finished reading Station Eleven. It knocked my socks off. Read it (but be warned, it’s about a pandemic and it’s bleak so shelve it til next year if you have to.) And apparently it’s becoming a miniseries soon!
  • I watched the entire (6 episode) series Belgravia, it was just the right amount of period drama for my tired brain.
  • I loved this Radiolab Episode on something that happened in Sweden during the cold war