Staying up to speed with the ever-changing world is hard. But the ability to transfer insights from one theme to another compensates.
I’m not sure if it’s a good thing, but I am subscribed to a multitude of feeds. I always feel this need to stay connected to what’s going on in the world. You could safely say that I don’t wanna miss out: if only days had more hours in them so I could read every single thing out there, but that’s practically impossible. Therefore, I have handpicked some sources that I find credible and inspiring, and I receive word from them on a regular basis. Whether it’s industry news or other themes close to my heart, I assign one hour every day to the cause of keeping myself up to speed.
Here’s my main information sources in case I got you intrigued:
- Voices from the World of Work-Life. Approaching work through the lens of an HR professional, sources I actively follow content from include:
- Whatever my role-model and HR guru Josh Bersin writes
- The Human Times, a daily feed for HR-related news and popular articles synopses that land daily in my mailbox (courtesy of the Josh Bersin Academy offered for free to all Academy members!)
- Industry analyses from the People Advisory departments of the Big Four
- Articles from the Harvard Business Review and MIT Sloan
- The newsletter of People Analytics expert David Green
- Suzanne Lucas‘ Evil HR Lady Page
- Voices from the World of Home-Life. Acknowledging life as a working Parent trying hard to make ends meet and juggle my multiple roles, I find comfort and support in:
- Angela Lee Duckworth‘s Tips of the Week packed with insight and practical advice on character building through the practice of Grit
- Brené Brown’s Blog, which helps me embrace vulnerability and see my imperfections as gifts and not as impediments to my emotional acknowledgement
- The Mindset Works Blog, the space founded by Carol Dweck and Lisa Blackwell actively supporting the further popularization of the Growth Mindset
- Simon Sinek’s Notes to Inspire, filled with Positive vibes
- Susanna Kemper’s Blog on various aspects of holistic pediatrics
- Articles from parenting blogs such as NYT Parenting, Working Mother, Motherly, Mother Honestly and Positive Parents
- Podcasts like Agnes Alice Mariakaki’s YouTube Channel and the Brain Hacking Academy
- Humorous spaces like Brian Gordon’s Fowl Language Comics and The Dude Dad
From each and every one of these spaces (which cover the majority of the places I show up thirsty for knowledge) I get a piece destined to solve the puzzle of my existence as a living breathing creature. My professional contribution to the World of Work is equally important to how I progress as a Person, and growing into the skins of my multiple roles (being a Partner, a Mother, a Professional, a Daughter, a Friend and a Cat-Mom) form parallel tracks down the same pathway. They may appear so, but they are not very distinct in my head. My Home life borrows from my Work life all the time, and vice versa. And this happens deliberately, almost as if I have…a Method.
Professional actors are oftentimes inquired to reveal “their Method”. You know, those techniques they use to encourage sincere and emotionally expressive performances. Which is a super complex thing to explain, actually, because most knowledge related to the acting competence is tacit, and therefore challenging to put into words. This is the reason why there are as many answers to that question as there are waves in the ocean, and some of the most prominent representatives of the acting tribe (like Joaquin Phoenix) discuss how they come to create their own Method. Of all the wisdom out there around Acting and its ways, I particularly enjoy Meryl Streep’s viewpoint. She is known to have said the following:
Acting is not about being someone different. It’s finding the similarity in what is apparently different, then finding myself in there.Meryl Streep
This pretty much summarizes my own Method for embarking in anything new: I, too, look for the limits of that space in the sea of information where similarities bloom, and subsequently try to find my best possible positioning in there. Whatever new ideas flow my way, be it a tip, a concept or just plain news, I safe-keep them into (what could be likened to) a central “repository of knowledge” hidden somewhere deep in my brain. I then go ahead and mentally seek for ways to make any new information as connected as possible to the rest of the contents of my brain. To achieve this, I deliberately spend some time to reflect upon this new thing I’ve heard or read. I ask myself a series of deep-diving questions like the following:
- What type of information is this new piece that came my way? Can I categorize it?
- What does it directly or indirectly relate to?
- Should I replace some other piece of existing information with this new stuff, or is it complimentary to what I already know?
- How could this information help solve a particular problem?
- How can I use this information to solve an analogous problem?
I know. I sound like a robot. And, come to think of it, it’s very likely that the core of my Method in inspired from my young Engineering days when I was thoroughly trained in Image classification techniques for Remote Sensing purposes powered by expert systems: algorithms that looked into satellite imagery, trying to systematically tell one object (e.g. a road) from another (e.g. a building) and categorize them accordingly to (say) automatically generate a geographical map of an area. Super fascinating times. Full nerd.
So, this line of questioning originating from the geekiest parts of my brain, when practiced deliberately, leads to a very rewarding series of outcomes. I take my time to process any new information, even more so in the face of change, as I go through the aforementioned steps in search of the most efficient way to convey meaning out of it. But once I complete the circle, I am awarded with that precious “a-ha” moment where everything falls into place. This way, an array of multiple possible solutions to any given situation at hand grows exponentially, and all I have to do is pick the one that makes the most sense at that particular point in time.
My mental Method is actually pretty inclusive as well: any topic is welcome, and any kind of info could be useful. Cooking, Business, Parenting, Nutrition, Fitness, Art, Programming, Music, different Cultures, Psychology. All info is significant, all tips could come in handy, when perceived without judgment and handled with care and a practical mind.
Can anyone practice this Method? Everyone can do it. I’ve coached enough people to know that, although it may not come instinctively by default, anyone can get there. Mental muscles can be trained. All you need is a framework to help one grasp the basic concepts that support this both analytical and synthetic process, and a coach who knows what he/she is doing.
I’m oftentimes perceived by my peers to be a creative mind: able to compose solutions that aren’t immediately visible to the naked eye. The way I see it, I simply follow to the dot a very systematic approach: a regime where no step is skipped, no question gets ignored, and no theme or topic is frowned upon. This is how Scheduling tools and techniques can help solve baby sleep problems. How a Growth Mindset can serve to prioritize your skill development decisions. How playing music on YouTube can become a way to practice emotional vulnerability. Life is not a straight line. And neither is creative solution-crafting. It just takes a Method and practice. Like all things in life.