The Prepared Mind: Skills v States

To tackle the wicked problems of our present and future, we need to embrace a strange, counter-intuitive irony: as organizations across all sectors continue to create and adopt technologies like artificial intelligence, employees need to stay relevant by increasing their subjective intelligence.

My research on master craftsmen and how they gain mastery might be the place to seek initial solutions. One way to do that is to increase self-awareness with your inner experience. As you learn to manage your feelings, you clear the way to develop a greater feel for your work.

Credit: Alina Grubnyak

Credit: Alina Grubnyak

Living and working with Craft is about being confident in your vision, knowing how to get there, and what it will do for your life. Most of us focus on the how—those more tangible skills that map where we need to be.

Because the idea of mission and fulfillment are more ethereal—they require a bit of a leap of faith. In the space between hard skills and soft skills lies the unknown. In the unknown is where a whole spectrum of emotions from excitement to anxiety reside.

When we are confronted by emotions that trouble us we reach for the concrete. We focus on the result.

For example, constructive self-talk is the skill to mastering a state of confidence in any condition—but how many of us think of that while we are beating ourselves up for not being confident? Regulated breathing is the skill to mastering a state of being calm in any condition—but how often are we gaining awareness of our breathing when we feel under attack by a manager or peer?

When we get into environments that are stressful or have pressure and consequence, and we abandon our goals and skills only to survive, it’s because we lack the mental skills. Effective self-management comes through honed skills like constructive self-talk and regulated breathing while one is under pressure. We have to be tested over and over and over again to develop mastery of mental skills.

 

As you explore your inner world, your outer world will come more sharply into focus.

As you face your imagined barriers, you will encounter real ones, as well.

—Julia Cameron

 

PRACTICE: How do you apply this idea yourself?

Write in a journal. Write without stopping for 15 minutes every day. Increase that time if you can or want to. If you can be honest on paper, you can find out who you are.

For people new to journaling, there is a pressure to choose certain words to express. Sometimes you self-edit, sometimes you gain clarity. With clarity comes conviction.

Everyone has a voice. When it comes to being effective, it's critical to listen to its tone and content.


If you find yourself blaming your (mental) tools, do something about it. Learn about mental models, learn from how Craftsmen talk about how they learn and get better at what they do and more importantly, take ownership. Moving forward requires change but change by itself does not mean that you are moving forward. As Socrates said, “The un-examined life is not worth living.”


Christine Haskell, Ph.D. is a leadership consultant and adjunct faculty at Washington State University. She helps busy leaders take responsibility for their learning and development. She writes on the topic of “Craftsmanship and The Future of Work.” sharing lessons from master craftsmen and women on personal and professional mastery, is due out late 2019. Sign up for her (semi-regular) newsletter here.

GOOD HUMANING: Coming together and falling apart..on the road to repair.

“Things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” ~ Pema Chödrön


Important to consider when shooting for resolution or results. The tangible outcomes we favor are often more ethereal than we would like to admit. Sometimes a friendship lasts for a time, sometimes a lifetime. What resolves a situation today might only be a band-aid for what we need to reckon with tomorrow.

If change truly is the only constant, then any “resolution” is impermanent by definition.

Which brings me to this visual.

Photo Credit: unknown  Wabi Sabi bowl.

Photo Credit: unknown Wabi Sabi bowl.

In traditional Japanese aesthetics, wabi-sabi is a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete".

In essence, the process is the result.


This post-series is about trying to anchor my experience by exploring within and reminding myself about what it means to practice "good humaning." It's about moving forward imperfectly. To follow this thread in my posts, look for these tags: #NotesFromMyYogaJournal

Christine Haskell, Ph.D. is a leadership consultant and adjunct faculty at Washington State University. She helps busy leaders take responsibility for their learning and development. She writes on the topic of “Craftsmanship and The Future of Work.” sharing lessons from master craftsmen and women on personal and professional mastery, is due out late 2019. Sign up for her (semi-regular) newsletter here.


Emotions are a tool

[ from Neuroscience News ]

Summary: People have more control over how their emotions are influenced by others than previously thought. Researchers found people who wanted to stay calm when presented with upsetting stimuli remained unfazed by angry emotions expressed by others. However, when they wanted to feel angry, they were more highly influenced by others who were angry.

Source: Stanford

Photo Credit: Neuroscience News

Photo Credit: Neuroscience News

In a new study, Stanford psychologists examined why some people respond differently to an upsetting situation and learned that people’s motivations play an important role in how they react.

Their study found that when a person wanted to stay calm, they remained relatively unfazed by angry people, but if they wanted to feel angry, then they were highly influenced by angry people. The researchers also discovered that people who wanted to feel angry also got more emotional when they learned that other people were just as upset as they were, according to the results from a series of laboratory experiments the researchers conducted.

Their findings, published June 13 in Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, reveal that people have more control over how their emotions get influenced than previously realized, the researchers said.

“We have long known that people often try to regulate their emotions when they believe that they are unhelpful,” said James Gross, a professor of psychology at Stanford’s School of Humanities and Sciences. “This set of studies extends this insight by showing that people can also regulate the way they are influenced by others’ emotions.”

….

Researchers have largely assumed that people’s emotions get influenced automatically – in an unconscious, immediate response to other people’s emotions, said Goldenberg. His team’s new research challenges that perspective, he said.

“Our emotions are not passive nor automatic,” Goldenberg said. “They are a little bit of a tool. We have the ability to use our emotions to achieve certain goals. We express certain emotions to convince other people to join our collective cause. On social media, we use emotions to signal to other people that we care about the issues of a group to make sure people know we’re a part of it.”

Further research needs to be done in order to understand the relationship between people and their emotions. One of the next topics Goldenberg says he wants to examine further is whether the desire of people to want to see and experience certain emotions around them lies at the core of how they choose their network of friends and other people around them.

“It seems that the best way to regulate your emotions is to start with the selection of your environment,” Goldenberg said. “If you don’t want to be angry today, one way to do that is to avoid angry people. Do some people have an ingrained preference for stronger emotions than others? That’s one of my next questions.”



Christine Haskell, PHD has built her practice on credible, published research and data. In the Research Series, you’ll find highlights, shareable statistics, and links to the full source material.

Fundamentals of workplace automation

[ From McKinsey ]

As the automation of physical and knowledge work advances, many jobs will be redefined rather than eliminated—at least in the short term.

 
WORK.jpg
 


The potential of artificial intelligence and advanced robotics to perform tasks once reserved for humans is no longer reserved for spectacular demonstrations by the likes of IBM’s Watson, Rethink Robotics’ Baxter, DeepMind, or Google’s driverless car. Just head to an airport: automated check-in kiosks now dominate many airlines’ ticketing areas. Pilots actively steer aircraft for just three to seven minutes of many flights, with autopilot guiding the rest of the journey. Passport-control processes at some airports can place more emphasis on scanning document bar codes than on observing incoming passengers.

What will be the impact of automation efforts like these, multiplied many times across different sectors of the economy? Can we look forward to vast improvements in productivity, freedom from boring work, and improved quality of life? Should we fear threats to jobs, disruptions to organizations, and strains on the social fabric?

Earlier this year, we launched research to explore these questions and investigate the potential that automation technologies hold for jobs, organizations, and the future of work.3 Our results to date suggest, first and foremost, that a focus on occupations is misleading. Very few occupations will be automated in their entirety in the near or medium term. Rather, certain activities are more likely to be automated, requiring entire business processes to be transformed, and jobs performed by people to be redefined, much like the bank teller’s job was redefined with the advent of ATMs.

More specifically, our research suggests that as many as 45 percent of the activities individuals are paid to perform can be automated by adapting currently demonstrated technologies.4 In the United States, these activities represent about $2 trillion in annual wages. Although we often think of automation primarily affecting low-skill, low-wage roles, we discovered that even the highest-paid occupations in the economy, such as financial managers, physicians, and senior executives, including CEOs, have a significant amount of activity that can be automated.

The organizational and leadership implications are enormous: leaders from the C-suite to the front line will need to redefine jobs and processes so that their organizations can take advantage of the automation potential that is distributed across them. And the opportunities extend far beyond labor savings. When we modeled the potential of automation to transform business processes across several industries, we found that the benefits (ranging from increased output to higher quality and improved reliability, as well as the potential to perform some tasks at superhuman levels) typically are between three and ten times the cost. The magnitude of those benefits suggests that the ability to staff, manage, and lead increasingly automated organizations will become an important competitive differentiator.


Christine Haskell, PHD has built her practice on credible, published research and data. In the Research Series, you’ll find highlights, shareable statistics, and links to the full source material.


AI helps brewers predict new beer varieties

Craftsmanship refers to something made with the highest quality. It requires a distinct mindset and approach. Values like durability, integrity, and calling are often associated with craftsmanship. 

In this story, AI enhances the notion of craft for a Carlsberg  brewing team, extending capabilities that have been practiced for centuries. 

Read More

Profile in Craft: Nel Wieman 1st Indigenous Female Psychiatrist in Canada

To tackle the wicked problems of our present and future, we need to embrace a strange, counter-intuitive irony: as organizations across all sectors continue to create and adopt technologies like artificial intelligence, employees need to stay relevant by increasing their subjective intelligence. My research on master craftsmen and how they gain mastery helps connect the dots on this new dilemma, and might be the place to seek initial solutions.

When it comes to open ended problem solving and learning to improvise with what we are given; master craftsmen have something to teach us. Having to work with a material where they cannot be sure what will happen is something they are used to. Combined with the more structured training and education offered to us today, improvisational thinking in the face of uncertainty is useful to leaders in any sector. Even in the face of countless books and articles about how important it is, most traditional business school programs and organizational training fail to address sophisticated thinking about ambiguous problems.


Listen to Dr. Cornelia Wieman, Canada's first Indigenous psychiatrist, and current Senior Medical Officer, Mental Health & Wellnessas at FNHA as she speaks about Indigenous perspectives in psychiatry and her own personal story. - via aboriginalhealthVCH

Nel Wieman is one of the survivors of the '60's Scoop'. She was taken from her biological parents at the age of three and adopted by a non-Indigenous family in Ontario. Nel Wieman went on to become the first Indigenous female psychiatrist in Canada.

Nel works with people in intensely distressing periods of their lives. She uses her training, but also who she is as a person to help and support her clients. When she got to medical school she learned she was the first female aboriginal psychiatrist in Canada.

She works at the Center for Addiction and Mental Heath and feels that in order to make an impact “you need to give something of yourself to the interaction.” Her patients are depressed and suicidal and have been in the emergency room for some type of crisis. She works intensely with people over a short period of time and finds her rewards in the gains they are able to make in that time frame.

Nel also teaches at McMasters University where she recruits students into the health sciences professions and helps nurture them through their education. She appreciates hearing people’s stories as it reinforces her culture’s oral tradition.

As she became more aware of indigenous health issues, she became more aware that mental health was a tremendous need. She hoped she could make an impact. Now she meets children in indigenous communities across the country and serves as a model of someone, like themselves, who has walked the path before them. She shows the meaning and importance of creating a path of support and guidance for others.


Christine Haskell’s research focuses on individuals dedicated to the craft of their professions, in pursuit of excellence, sustainability and integrity. Craftsmen and women use those principles to raise standards toward a better world. Her current work is featured in Look To Craftsmen Project. featuring the Profiles in Craft Series. You’ll find a trove of profiles of intriguing artisans and innovators spanning a wide variety of professions across the globe that illustrate her research with links to the full articles. Christine’s book The Future of Work Will Require Craftsmanship is due in late 2019. To understand more about Christine’s work, check out Our Current Problem.


Profiles in Craft: David Easterly

To tackle the wicked problems of our present and future, we need to embrace a strange, counter-intuitive irony: as organizations across all sectors continue to create and adopt technologies like artificial intelligence, employees need to stay relevant by increasing their subjective intelligence. My research on master craftsmen and how they gain mastery helps connect the dots on this new dilemma, and might be the place to seek initial solutions.

When it comes to open ended problem solving and learning to improvise with what we are given; master craftsmen have something to teach us. Having to work with a material where they cannot be sure what will happen is something they are used to. Combined with the more structured training and education offered to us today, improvisational thinking in the face of uncertainty is useful to leaders in any sector. Even in the face of countless books and articles about how important it is, most traditional business school programs and organizational training fail to address sophisticated thinking about ambiguous problems.

Craftsmanship refers to something made with the highest quality. It requires a distinct mindset and approach. Values like durability, integrity, and calling are often associated with craftsmanship. 

 

 

Awestruck at the sight of a Grinling Gibbons carving in a London church, David Esterly chose to dedicate his life to woodcarving—its physical rhythms, intricate beauty, and intellectual demands. Forty years later, he is the foremost practitioner of Gibbons’s forgotten technique, which revolutionized ornamental sculpture in the late 1600s with its spectacular cascades of flowers, fruits, and foliage.

After a disastrous fire at Henry VIII’s Hampton Court Palace, Esterly was asked to replace the Gibbons masterpiece destroyed by the flames.  It turned out to be the most challenging year in Esterly’s life, forcing him to question his abilities and delve deeply into what it means to make a thing well. Written with a philosopher’s intellect and a poet’s grace, The Lost Carving explores the connection between creativity and physical work and illuminates the passionate pursuit of a vocation that unites head and hand and heart.

Esterly kept a daily journal during his year carving the restoration, a diary that became the springboard for The Lost Carving two decades later. The book narrates his evolution as a woodcarver and describes how the project crucially shaped his own artistic development.Philadelphia Inquirer reviewer Rita Giordano noted that even a reader who cared nothing for woodcarving could “still be absolutely in thrall to the lushness of Esterly’s language, his passion for creation, his reverence for the physical act of work. The Lost Carving is a study in the marvel—both the pain and the joys—of doing a thing well.”

PhotoCredit: Harvard Magazine

PhotoCredit: Harvard Magazine


[From Harvard Magazine] Then as now, Esterly was and is internationally regarded as the most accomplished practitioner of the “subtractive art” of limewood carving since Gibbons. Indeed, Esterly is something of an anachronism: he has devoted most of his adult life (“I work seven days a week, after dinner, all the time”) to chiseling soft, malleable limewood, a particularly receptive medium for these delicate renderings. Many of his pieces take a year or even two to complete: such carvings are a painstaking art that calls on skills cultivated over decades. Thus Esterly has created a magnificent, if small, oeuvre: his 38-year career has produced only a few dozen carvings, almost all in private collections.

They are not hidden from the public, though. This January, Esterly assembled 15 of his most recent works for an 11-day show at the W.R. Brady and Company gallery in Manhattan. Soon thereafter, the collection went on display for six weeks in an exhibit, The Art of Subtraction, at the Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute, an elegant museum in Utica designed by Philip Johnson ’27, B.Arch. ’43. Borrowing the carvings from their owners, transporting the fragile works, and putting them on display was “an arduous undertaking,” Esterly reports. “It will probably never happen again.” Photographs, however, are viewable on his website (davidesterly.com).

Of his improvement as an artist over the years, he says, “I never had a sense of getting better, but my earlier work gets worse and worse.” Carving, for him, is “a profession for high-functioning obsessive-compulsives.” He explains that “the first 90 percent you can do with 50 percent of the effort. The last 10 percent may take another 50 percent of effort. But that last 50 percent is what changes it into something good.”


Christine Haskell’s research focuses on individuals dedicated to the craft of their professions, in pursuit of excellence, sustainability and integrity. Craftsmen and women use those principles to raise standards toward a better world. Her current work is featured in Look To Craftsmen Project. featuring the Profiles in Craft Series. You’ll find a trove of profiles of intriguing artisans and innovators spanning a wide variety of professions across the globe that illustrate her research with links to the full articles. Christine’s book The Future of Work Will Require Craftsmanship is due in late 2019. To understand more about Christine’s work, check out Our Current Problem.


The Prepared Mind: The Importance of Going Fallow

[Article originally published on Medium] 

Photo by  Zbysiu Rodak

Photo by Zbysiu Rodak

THE SABBATICAL: WHAT IS IT & WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?

The concept of the sabbatical is based on the Biblical practice of shmita. Relating to agriculture, every seven years, a sabbath (or rest) year was ordered to give the land a break from agricultural production. In a similar way, our minds, like the soil, need rest to be able to continue to grow and provide.

A “sabbatical” has come to mean an extended absence in the career of an individual. But there is a hook — most people come back from these experiences still forcing production in exhausted soil. They feel under pressure to fulfill some goal, e.g., writing a book, or somehow operationalizing their experience for others, or even productizing it in some way. We have a very hard time just doing something for the sake of doing it. With proverbs like “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop” or references to “killing time” allowing ourselves to go fallow does not come easily.

In his 2009 TED talk, The Power of Time Off, designer Stefan Sagmeister explains how he decided to start closing the doors of his New York studio for a full year every seven years:

“Like many things in my life that I actually love, I adapt to them and over time, get bored by them. And in our case, our work started to look the same.”

Sagmeister first thought about taking a work sabbatical when reflecting on the typical flow of our lives. He estimated most people spend 25 years learning, 40 years working their career, and then 15-plus years in retirement. But, Sagmeister proposed, what if we cut off five years of retirement and interspersed them in between the working years?

When he experimented with this new schedule, the result was both creatively and professionally beneficial. As he explains in his TED talk, in that first sabbatical year, Sagmeister created a film, explored new design styles and materials, and experienced new cultures and ideas.

“The work that came out of that year flowed back into the company, and into society at large.”

SIGNS YOU NEED A SABBATICAL

A sabbatical is an opportunity to unplug and press pause. It doesn’t have to be a full year or 6 weeks. Giving yourself an opportunity to pause is about disrupting the inertia to which we most often succumb. Most of us can’t opt out and go completely fallow, but we can create space for an intentional shift in thinking. Changing our thinking changes our decision making, which eventually leads to behavior change. We can embrace an opportunity to gain perspective that enables a mental shift in attitude, thoughts, or emotions that otherwise would not have occurred. We all need to create that kind of shift for ourselves, on a daily basis.

Here are five signs that you’re due:

  1. If you used to love your work and now you can’t stand it.

  2. If your boss or partner tells you things aren’t working out.

  3. If you’re constantly distracted by your phone or social media.

  4. If you’re facing a challenge or adversity.

  5. If an opportunity comes knocking on your door that you want to follow.

Creating space could be signing up for a class, up-leveling your business, getting better something, or saying a truth that may not have been said before. The whole idea is to connect to yourself. If you had an extra five minutes or an hour, what could you do differently? What would you say? Who would you be with? Those are great cues about what would work for you.

Start by creating space in your day. We constantly shift and go into autopilot. We succumb to the back to back meetings, the constant stream of email and information coming our way. To take a few minutes to journal your thoughts and feelings at different times of the day can be really informative. Your mood improves when you consciously bring thoughts into the moment.

Consider checking in with yourself first before checking your social media feed and ask, “How do I feel? What am I thinking right now? Is this where I want to be?”

When you check in, tune out others and focus on yourself. We’ve been counseled since we were children to be first, be right, to win — none of that has anything to do with slowing down. In racing against the clock and against others, we didn’t learn how to care for ourselves very well. There is a reason why we are told on airplanes to take care of ourselves first. We have to learn to take care of ourselves to be the best self we can be.

HOW TO CREATE A SABBATICAL

Sabbaticals are all about rejuvenating and acquiring nutrients. They are a time to explore topics you’re deeply passionate about or try something new outside of your comfort zone. But if you read through this article and still feel like it’s impossible for you, there are ways to get the benefits of disconnected, unstructured time off without risking your job. Not everyone can take a big break in their life or career. Start with a day, or an hour.

TAKE OFF ONE DAY A WEEK

Dr. Matthew Sleeth, author of 24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life, has indisputable proof that life doesn’t have to be quite so frantic all of the time: himself. His experience changed his life, leading him to write his book — a guide to refocusing your life around the principle of taking a much-needed rest day.

“For most of my life, I worked in emergency medicine. Ten years ago, I was given a 24-hour Sunday shift. I felt wiped out, and I was dreading Sunday each week, so I decided to take Saturday off to have a very simple day to read and explore my purpose in life,” recalls Dr. Sleeth.

BE UNREACHABLE FOR A SET PERIOD OF TIME

Learn how to disappear, for a bit. Start with 90 minutes twice a week.

It’s a powerful trick that lessens stress, increases productivity, sparks creativity, improves work/life balance, and changes your perspective of work.

Medium member Josh Spector reveals his tricks and what you’ll get from pulling your own disappearing act.

LEARN TO TAKE “MINI-SABBATICALS”

According to Harvard psychologist Shelley Carson, one of the best ways to enhance your creative output is to separate work and consumption. As she explains, even taking an hour a day for a “mini-sabbatical” to be in an “absorb” state where you gather information and inspiration without doing any work can be an easy way to get new ideas.

If you’re feeling stressed, unmotivated, and burnt out, there’s no point in trying to just push through.

Instead, our best ideas often come when we’re not working. And a sabbatical–no matter how long–is a fantastic way to rest and rethink how you’re approaching hard problems.


If you find yourself blaming your (mental) tools, do something about it. Learn about mental models, learn from how Craftsmen talk about how they learn and get better at what they do and more importantly, take ownership. Moving forward requires change but change by itself does not mean that you are moving forward. As Socrates said, “The un-examined life is not worth living.”


Christine Haskell, Ph.D. is a leadership consultant and adjunct faculty at Washington State University. She helps busy leaders take responsibility for their learning and development. She writes on the topic of “Craftsmanship and The Future of Work.” sharing lessons from master craftsmen and women on personal and professional mastery, is due out late 2019. Sign up for her (semi-regular) newsletter here.