#39 Knowing when to ignore your experience is a true sign of experience
How to evolve as a teacher, talk to aliens and be reasonably responsive
I am continuing on the words of wisdom from “The Messy Middle”. In a short chapter titled “With naivety comes openness” Scott Belsky shares insights on how to encourage the culture of curiosity. Sharing the snapshot below (highlights are mine).
"Knowing when to ignore your experience is a true sign of experience, observed my mentor John Maeda. Or consider the take of the notable computer scientist who pioneered much of the programming behind graphic user interfaces, Alan Kay: “If you're immersed in a contest, you can't even see it.” The cost of expertise is familiarity and becoming biased against new ways of doing it.
Ignorance is bliss, and it's the ideal operating state at the very start of a bold project that would otherwise be too daunting with all the facts. Your lack of experience actually gives you the confidence to question assumptions that industry experts wouldn't dare defy. That inexperience can make you more open and confident with subjects you're naive about-but that naivety will become a disadvantage over time as your success is determined less by openness and more by execution.
One of the best ways to maintain (and reclaim) the benefits of naivety is to surround yourself with different people. A team of people from different backgrounds and industries will keep you questioning assumptions. You need to empower new and inexperienced people to follow their logic over industry norms. The "ignorance" that new people bring with them to your team breeds a special kind of insight. Not only will fresh blood offer new ideas, it will help you see what everyone else overlooks. When new members of your team feel like there might be a better way, you should encourage them to explore it rather than advocating for "the right way." Naivety yields an openness not yet tainted by-or bound to-the past.
When to rely on your expertise and when to let your curiosity take charge - you decide to take. Learn to make it correct more often. For now, let’s discover some new topics & ideas.
What does it mean to be a teacher? In “The 4 identities of a teacher”, Tiago Forte takes a shot at answering this and more. He suggests that every teacher naturally moves through four stages or identities over time:
He suggests that our identity will evolve through four distinct phases, all of which have value, and all of which allow us to make an impact no matter how much (or how little) we know.
He has a very compelling logic in his framework. It's relatable. I am seeing it happening in my life. Give it a read, it might help you too as well.
I've become an 'always available' person running operations & managing customer issues. I value quick responses and acknowledgements. I never worried about the perils of using emails in chat mode. I won't deny, it did help with creating urgency in problem-solving. And guess what? Nobody objected to such absurd behaviour.
Only recently, I started engaging with more folks outside my current network. And then, it stuck to me. Others don't seem to be so available and they are at peace with it. I hated it in the early days. I am still learning to live with this new approach. But it feels like the right thing to do.
This post in The Atlantic touched some parts of this problem very well. Its main premise: "Today’s norms of responsiveness are ridiculous. We shouldn’t apologize for failing to meet them." It goes on to provide some actionable methods to handle the guilt of a 'delayed response' in a manner that is fair for both parties.
I must warn, these are not easy suggestions. They are against our core grain of apologizing at first instance. Habit changes are not so easy, isn't it?
In “Job titles are deceiving”, Linda argues for valuing tasks over titles. She states…
“Title is sexy, tasks are boring. But quality of life is determined by the tasks you do, not the title you carry. A fancy title might make you proud for a few weeks, but you’re stuck living with the tasks indefinitely.”
I love the examples she has shared. She explains the situation & potential ways to avoid them in a crisp and actionable way. Her inputs are applicable not just in a new job search but at every stage of your working in a team.
How do we teach aliens about Earth and earthlings? Interesting problem, right! There have been many attempts in past to pass on information that can give ‘them’ some clues. But then it was done all from the perspective of the sender (us earthlings). Will those aliens understand our language, graphics and message? Well, we will never know. Why? Many reasons - some of them funny. Watch this video to know more, 18 minutes of pure entertainment.
Warning: There are chances you will find the alien tune business of Koi Mil Gaya more relatable. :)
Image source: J.J. McCullough’s Youtube video
Some random goodness from the internet:
Web: Literature Clock tells the current time using a short snippet from literature. Every time you see the time, you will find something nice to read.
Web: How to say no has 30+ templates for the task. They are borrowed from well-known thinkers and experts of our time. Good examples of crisp, clear and honest communication.
Instagram: Ukrainian artist Tatyana (@nikkanett) creates tiny things - small versions of food, clothing and other objects that fit into the palm of a hand.
Short reads: ‘Fight Club’ with a different ending (Anything is possible in China, their obsession to control the narrative is insane), the secret life of a super-recogniser (super-recogniser = people who can never forget a face)
Long reads: The Dresden job (a billion-dollar jewel heist, crime families and the investigation to catch the culprits - this is like a plot for a Netflix movie)
Before we sign off, here's a tweet that captures how empathy in communication triumphs over anything.
That's all for this week, folks!
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