Zen Habits to the rescue

I know what it’s like to feel on top of the world. To feel like I’m standing on a surfboard and I’ve caught a rogue wave at its peak and with no effort at all, as if every fairy godmother in the universe is cheering me on, I’m gliding like Jesus walking on water.

As I continue on the wave, I’m peering into the horizon and no matter what I do, I can do no wrong, as if pink unicorns and purple fairy dust is sprinkling down on me and isn’t that a rainbow? No. Oh god. Look. It’s a DOUBLE rainbow rising up out of the ocean directly in front of me like a magnificent Orca beckoning me towards it, straight towards Nirvana on this earth in my lifetime. Amen. Been there. Occasionally. Okay at least once that I can think of, vividly, but not for quite some time.

I also know what it’s like to be on the other side of that coin. It’s not depression. Well, maybe a little. It’s more like being dropped into some bunker in the middle of nowhere and everyone has forgotten that you’re there and you might as well be in the trenches at Vimy Ridge or at least having a flashback to that time. Well, okay, that’s overly dramatic. So?

Now being a writer helps contribute to the second reality because there are many periods of uncertainty, and periods of down time, or periods of just trying to think of something new when you’re in between the actual writing of something. It’s that period of time that requires brainstorming and researching related to coming up with a good idea, or even a really stupid idea, or let’s get real, a downright bad idea for queries or something, anything, give me a sign. One that doesn’t show how lame I can be at times at handling uncertainty, but never as lame, alas, as those who have long-term, full-time jobs are about to be unemployed. Not as lame as them.

The downtime can be a tricky period because for someone like me, it can feel like I’m not working even though I’m always working and I have to figure out why someone who seems to be spending more and more of my life these past few years not working at a formal job can still get anxious about not working at a formal job.  I will chalk that up to my childhood which is the root cause of everything that is wrong with me. There’s research to back up that fact so, no, I’m not being overly dramatic.

Not all periods of work are productive. Are you at work? Look around. I mean, honestly! You’re reading this stupid blog post. Get back to work!

Somehow, alone, just me and my computer, in that period of time that requires mining for new ideas, sitting or going for a walk in the middle of the work day or getting outside for a coffee at Starbucks and just free associating to come up with something of value as a starting point can make me feel like more of a fraud than I normally feel in the troughs of neuroticism as Holy Grail.  I blame it on being raised by Presbyterians on my late father’s side.

So yesterday when I was feeling this way, right at the zenith of that feeling, I got an e-mail from my subscription to this blog called zenhabits and it was so perfect. Leo’s solution related to countering that feeling of being overwhelmed with just doing the dishes.


I love that. Here’s someone who gets that sometimes just doing one simple thing that’s actually achievable can make all the difference.

Here’s his post. Subscribe to his blog. But first, do the dishes!

To Boss or Not to Boss

work_team-buildingRoyalty Free Cartoon from www.sangrea.net

As most days, I was listening to CBC Radio. A guy, Ryan Carson, comes on and starts speaking about his tech company, Treehouse. He’s talking about how when he started, with just a handful of employees, they were energized and things were humming along.

His little company grew and pretty soon he had 30 people showing up to the same place every day. It didn’t take too long after that before he began to notice something else as well. He began to notice that instead of excitement and enthusiasm, he began to hear grumblings about so and so not doing this and so and so not doing that.

Pretty soon, he realized, coming to work every day wasn’t what it used to be. It was challenging for all the wrong reasons.  It occurred to him that prior to the growth, he’d had a flat management structure. He had a core group of people who were equals who sat around a table and discussed every aspect of the business and every one of them was inspired by the challenge to grow the business. He thought about this predicament (the norm for most workplaces) and  he decided to do something drastic. He got rid of all managers. Nobody was the boss (except him I guess). Krazy with a capital K? Anarchy defined?

Not so fast.

He decided that if he had the right people then there was no need for some artificial hierarchy, the kind that exists in most workplaces, where some people have a lot more power than others.

If you’ve ever had the incredible luxury of working somewhere where people work hard, show up on time, do their jobs, (I know, I know) you can’t help but recognize that a collaborative style, not a hierarchical one, makes the most sense. It’s more likely to keep energy alive, support innovation, promote momentum. You can’t go back. Once you’ve worked in that type of environment, if you ever have, you can’t go back.

After you’ve experienced a collaborative workplace, it’s almost impossible not to look at someone who is supposed to be managing and think what are they doing here? How obsolete is this?  Of course, this works best, I suppose, with knowledge workers.

Listen to the interview on Spark. So what do you think? Crazy idea or possible? What would make all the difference in the success of this do you think?