Your defining moment

It’s easy to wait for it. The movies have taught us that when the music swells and the chips are down, that’s when leaders arrive and when heroes are made. It turns out, that’s not how it works. Our work is what happens in all the moments. Leadership doesn’t simply appear when the script announces…

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Craftspeople and time

Tell us when you’re going to finish. Tell us if you fall behind. Don’t make us ask. It’s difficult for a small organization or a dedicated craftsperson to run an operation as punctually as a large bureaucracy. After all, the bureaucracy exists mainly to be sure that deadlines are honored and variances are not exceeded….

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A community of practice

Learning happens mostly outside the classroom. Learning is the difficult work of experiencing incompetence on our way to mastery. And learning opens the door to identity. When someone says, “I am a nurse”, they’ve taken their learning and certification, combined it with their livelihood and announced it as their identity. And this all happens from…

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Waiting and worrying

It’s easy for us to choose to worry. The world is upside down, the slog continues, a tragedy unevenly but widely distributed. Worry takes a lot of effort. And worry, unlike focus, learning or action, accomplishes nothing of value. And, at the same time, due to the time-horizon of the pandemic, it’s also tempting for…

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Smart-adjacent

You may have seen the miracle sudoku video that spread this week–a good sort of virus, one based on an idea. About half a million people have watched Simon spend nearly half an hour solving a puzzle. No anger, no violence, no innuendo. Merely applied thinking about numbers. How did it spread? There are millions…

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“I’ve dealt with this before”

There’s a huge gulf between earned expertise and strong opinion. Knowing what others who have come before have done (and having successfully done it yourself) is demonstrably more effective than simply acting as if your opinion matters. Whether you’re dealing a lawsuit, cancer or a sous vide machine, you’re better off talking with someone who…

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Pique blindness

If you can study something behavioral on college students, you can bet it gets studied a lot. It’s easy and cheap to run these sorts of tests. Which is how we came to understand the power of pique and the risk of habituation. It turns out that if you see something over and over again,…

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Alternatives to perfect

“If I can’t make it perfect, is it okay if I try to make it better?” When a project doesn’t come out precisely the way we hoped, when customer service isn’t 100%, when the reality doesn’t match the dream, then what? One option is to embrace your failure. To have your tantrum, to become bereft,…

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But what if it works?

The difference between science and conspiracy theory/superstition is simple: Good science leads to useful insights. And good science is the cure for bad science. On the other hand, there are no good conspiracy theories, because they are attractive precisely because they’re unproven, imprecise and non-falsifiable. They’re not actually theories at all. They use confusion to…

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