Archive for February, 2022

On Balancing Life

There’s a lot of talk about “Work-Life Balance”…

I think if there’s no life

There’s no work

Some are doing only work and nothing else…

Others might say “Dude, get a life!”

It’s not either/or. There’s life… and work is a part of it.

But we too often fill up life with work…

But there’s more to life than just work…

We can turn some knobs to adjust how we live life, as in “this week/month/quarter/year I’m doing more of this, less of that”

Turning those knobs can be something well-balanced and thought-out. But it can also be an abrupted change due to unforseen events…

But everything changes, nothing stays the same, so we keep adjusting those dials again as time goes by…

Those areas of life don’t have to be isolated from each other; they can have some overlap!

It’s great to have some shared experiences, with the awareness to keep certain issues on the far edges…

These are some random thoughts and rough drawings I’ve been collecting and figured it might make sense to others out there.

The “knobs and dials” I mention in this post can be adjusted based on Core and Supporting Values.

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Deciding What Book to Read Next

A reading habit can be easily broken if we aren’t sure about what to read next. For many years, that hasn’t been an issue as I’ve been building my book library and there’s always something I can pick up. But how do I decide what to read next?

The easiest approach is to simply pick up a book I want to read and get started. Don’t overthink it. Just do it.

Next best approach is to pick something up that has been referred to me by people who have consistently been giving me good referrals.

Following that, if I’m enjoying a book that I’m reading and the author recommends other books, I add them to my “books wishlist” on Amazon.

When I hear one of my favorite authors have a new book out, I either get it or immediately add it to my wishlist.

Some books have been a referral from multiple sources; I indicate that on my wishlist. If a book has multiple referrals, I put it at the top of my list.

Back in my teenage years when I started reading fiction books in English, I had a practice of starting the next book immediately after finishing the previous one. Over the last several years I simply start reading books whenever I feel like. I don’t wait to finish one before starting another, which means that:

  • I read many books at the same
  • I’m always reading at least one book
  • Some books I finish quickly, others I may go on reading for as long as a few years

How do you decide what book to read next?

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Core and Supporting Values

Last week, I’ve asked if your values overlap with your employers’. As I mentioned, I looked at the list of values and found out my top 2, but I never said what they are. Here you go: legacy and making a difference. That’s what I call my core values. I’ve arrived at those by reflecting on my own life this far, revisiting the main highlights, interactions, and pivotal moments.

Several months after going through that process, I went back to the list to take another look at the other values I had also hightlighted: fairness, gratitude, humor, initiative, patience, personal fulfillment, responsibility, and spirituality. Those are what I call my supporting values.

What’s the distinction between core and supporting? When I look into my future, I hope my core values represent the life I’ve lived. As I look through my past, current moment, and the time between now and my future, I believe my supporting values will guide me to the future I want.

As time goes on, I turn the knobs on each one of those values, adjusting them to handle whatever situation I’m going through, and preparing me to move on to the next step in my journey. By being aware of my values I’m better able to set goals and processes to achieve them; whatever I come up with has to be directly related to one or more of those values.

So what does Improving have to do with any of that?

Improving’s guiding principles of Excellence, Involvement, and Dedication, our culture and Improvers provide me the inspiration, motivation, and environment to live into my values.

As I re-read James Clear’s Atomic Habits, I’ve run into these bits where he talks about how we “imitate the close”:

We soak up the qualities and practices of those around us.

Improvers’ qualities and practices have caught my attention when I first met a few of these folks back in 2007. After all these years living in this culture, Clear’s words resonate with me deeply:

One of the most effective things you can do to build better habits is to join a culture where your desired behavior is the normal behavior. New habits seem achievable when you see others doing them every day.

It doesn’t end there:

Your culture sets your expectation for what is “normal”. Surround yourself with people who have the habits you want to have yourself. You’ll rise together.

I’d like to add something to that: in my case, I already had habits that I considered good, and I’ve been able to not only keep those habits but also help others build those habits themselves. Oftentimes, it’s very hard to keep good habits when you’re surrounded by individuals whose habits are the polar opposite of ours.

To wrap up this pair of posts with actionable tips straight off of Clear’s book:

Join a culture where (1) your desired behavior is the normal behavior and (2) you already have something in common with the group.

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Do your values overlap with your employer’s?

Not happy with your job? Find an employer whose values align with your own.

Are you clear on what your values are? I had clues about my own, but it wasn’t until last year when I narrowed them down. How? By actively participating in a book club with my co-workers (something encouraged by Improving’s values).

We covered Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead. In a certain section of the book, there’s an activity for the readers to identify their values. It presents a long list of common values. We’re supposed to identify the top 2. Not easy, so we may start with our top 10, and then narrow it down. I found mine. I call the top 2 my core values, and the remaining 8 my supporting values. As I look at Improving’s values and philosophy, I see how the company makes it easy for me to live my own values.

Here are a few practical examples:

  • I’m an avid book reader. Having great people to have conversations about the content enhances the experience a lot. We put the word out in our internal technical communities, and book clubs are formed.
  • I identify a need for a space where I can gather motorcycle track riders who want to discuss their experiences, analyze their learnings, share their tips. I create the community and I get the space at Improving to have our meetings.
  • My co-workers show interest in the practices I have to organize life, set and execute goals, pick up hobbies, learn languages. I put together my notes, create classes, and offer them as internal training. Many people join in, we deepen our relationships and have a great time.
  • I’ve been practicing meditation, financial health, physical activities. Improving comes up with an internal, year-long initiative focusing the month of January on wellness. Tons of people join in, experiences are shared, good times are had, great results are achieved.

I could keep going on and on. In fact, the subject comes up in my mourning journalling very frequently. Sometimes, I make those words surface in this blog. Other times, I keep them to myself, as I introspect and look for ways to increase and/or leverage the overlap there is between my values and Improving’s.

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