We are awash in great writing. There’s never been a time in history when so many have had access to so much high-quality content, often for no more than the price of a monthly data plan. As an avid reader, this is a blessing and a curse. I’ve failed again and again to deliberately direct my attention to the things I plan to read, rather than be distracted by enticing articles or blog posts floating along in the current of my Twitter feed.
One of the strategies that’s helping me get better at this has been outsourcing my reading decisions to trusted curators by subscribing to their newsletters. I route these newsletters into a folder in my Gmail inbox and work through them on the weekend. This batching process allows me to scan any links shared in these newsletters in one go and decide which, on balance, seems most relevant, interesting, and thus worth the investment of my reading time.
This post is not really about weightlifting. Rather, it’s about the unexpected framework that lifting has provided for thinking about all the ways that I (and I suspect many other humans) tend to get in their own way at work.
There are few experiences as humbling as starting a new job. Overnight, you are transformed from a fully competent contributor to an unproven rookie. You enter a new world, where the language, customs and culture are unfamiliar. The mental ‘maps’ you’ve used to navigate your past environment are of limited help; in fact, they may lead you astray. Though certain practices, interactions or cues you encounter might look like ones you’ve experienced before, in this new landscape they may carry a very different meaning than what you assume.
In this respect, entering a new organization is profoundly similar to moving to a foreign country. I should know. When I was 13 years old, one of many moves with my family led us to Saudi Arabia, where we lived for 5 years. Even now, I can play the scenes of our arrival and first days in my head like a video recording. The chaotic airport, the oppressively hot night air, the strange smells and staccato Arabic enveloping us, the desolate nothingness of the desert highway at night, and the gecko perched near our new front door as if to welcome us. Whether a new organization, or a new country, the complete immersion into a different culture feels a lot like waking up in a Picasso painting. Read more