Tag Archives: writing

Telling our stories in the digital age.

olympia 2 by glasseyes view

When I was little, I remember my dad pacing the living room floor, dictating, as my mom typed his words on our old electric typewriter.  It was a big, humming machine and the keys made a satisfying chunk sound.  The manuscripts were typed, edited, typed again and then mailed off to magazine editors.  After my dad passed, my mom sent me the 30-year-old copies of Ranger Rick and Owl that held the evidence of their hard work.

Way back in 1994, I started a newsletter about local music in my hometown – The Perimeter: McMinnville’s Premier Music Publication.  I typed the articles on our high-tech word processor, then carefully cut them into columns and pasted them onto graph paper.  I hand-lettered the masthead and had a local print shop make 50 copies.  A few issues in, my family got a PC, outfitted with Microsoft Publisher and a dial-up internet connection, and my production value went up considerably.

Last week, I helped a single mom, with not much work history but lots of life experience, draft her resume.  We emailed back and forth, discussing different ways to describe her skills and tell her story.  We changed fonts, reworked the design, and uploaded to her LinkedIn profile, all with a few clicks of a button.

Kitty Ireland remembers typing her first resume on a rented typewriter at the public library.  Reading her post, I was reminded how hard getting our ideas out into the world used to be. Crafting a good story, one that deftly explains who we are and what we can offer, is still hard work.  But the mechanics of story-telling have definitely gotten easier.

 

(Photo by glasseyes view via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)

 

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Management Quick Tip: Work on your writing skills.

No no. Thank you!  by Aaron Stidwell

Email and social media have made us all writers, no matter what our job title.

And we can all stand to get better at conveying our messages clearly, succinctly and in a way that engages our readers.

Here are a few resources to help you hone your writing chops:

 

               

                

 

How about you?  Do you have a favorite book on writing?  Please share in the comments.

 

(Photo by Aaron Stidwell via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)

 

(This post contains affiliate links to Powell’s Books.)

 

When did overwhelm become a noun?

Mosaic Salsa by brillianthues (cropped)

As in “How to Fight Overwhelm” or “Overcoming the Overwhelm.”

This use of overwhelm as a noun is a pet peeve of mine.  Now, I don’t exactly consider myself the Grammar Police.  I can overlook the occasional your/you’re or there/their mistake.  I can appreciate the creative use of language.  (Think different.)  And I understand that language evolves.  (Because internet.)  So why does this overwhelm thing get under my skin?

Feeling overwhelmed.  Finding a task overwhelming.  These are transitive states.

But when we take overwhelm as a noun, it becomes something outside ourselves.  An entity.  A separate thing that we can’t control.  It implies that taking on more than we can handle is an unavoidable fact of modern life.  Like gridlock.  Or the Kardashians.

But is it?  We certainly have an increasingly large number of demands on our time, energy and attention.  But to overwhelm is an action.  We need to remain clearheaded about who is putting stressful demands on our resources.  Because ultimately, it is a person, and likely, it’s ourselves.

I find this much easier to deal with than some amorphous entity we’ve dubbed Overwhelm.

What do you think?

 

(Photo by brillianthues via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)

 

Have you found your voice?

Singing to the Sunrise by Don McCullough

If you are a writer, blogger or creative of just about any sort, you’ve probably thought a lot about your “voice”.  You’ve worked hard to develop a unique style that expresses how you see the world.  You’ve figured out how to tell your story, as only you can tell it.

If you’re a manager, or aspiring to be one, you may not be as comfortable with this idea.  You’re not an “artist”.  You’re focused on organizing, planning, measuring performance.  Not on finding your “voice”, right?

But here’s why your voice matters:  It’s how we share our worldview.  How we reach people and connect them to our passion and our mission.  Our voice is why people follow us, even as situations change.  Because our worldview resonates with them.  And that’s a valuable component of leadership, isn’t it?

The connection between voice and worldview clicked for me as I read Jeff Goins on creating value as a writer.  Here’s how Goins describes a worldview:

“A paradigm.  A perspective.  A code of ethics.  It’s how we live our lives, whether we recognize it or not.  This is what sets a person’s voice apart from the rest of the noise vying for our attention: not what they say, but how they say it.”

Let me share some elements of my worldview that influence my voice as a manager:

  • Job satisfaction stems from meeting the basic human need for autonomy, purpose and growth.
  • Our environment matters.  The quality and character of our workspaces impact how we do our jobs
  • Systems need creativity to avoid becoming stagnate and stifling.  Creativity needs systems and structure in order to have a meaningful impact.

Now think about your own career.  What links all your different positions together?  All your assorted tasks?  All the decisions you make?  Your unique background and experiences have given you a unique worldview.  Your voice is how you share it.

 

(Photo by Don McCullough via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)

 

On optimism.

Sunrise by Nigel Howe

Do you write down your long-term goals?  Productivity gurus recommend separating our to-do lists into daily tasks, mid-range projects and long-term objectives (think: operational, tactical and strategic) and we all know writing down our goals keeps us focused, organized and accountable.  But did you know it can also make you feel more optimistic?

In her book The How of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky explains how recording our dreams in a “Best Possible Selves” diary can help us feel more positive and improve both our mental and physical well-being.  Writing down our vision of ourselves in 5 or 10 years helps us define our values and our identity.  You get a happiness boost from anticipation, and having a mental image of yourself living your best life helps you stay optimistic about the future.

Other ideas on managing your long-term goals:

 

You might also like:

Notes To Self: Tracking Your Deliberate Practice

 

This post contains affiliate links to Powell’s Books.

(Photo by Nigel Howe via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)

 

Teaching as a learning tool.

“Teaching made me so much better at studying.”
– Ann Patchett

In The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life, Ann Patchett remembers how teaching her first literature class forced her to think through her ideas, support them with examples and then present them in a logical way.

If you’re trying to master a new management technique, consider presenting a team workshop or training session around that topic. Teaching it to others will enhance your own learning, and working on a public timeline will keep you moving forward.

Whether you’re an aspiring writer or just enjoy learning how someone masters a craft, I highly recommend downloading Patchett’s Kindle Single.

 

Notes To Self: Tracking Your Deliberate Practice

tracking your deliberate practice

A deliberate approach to improving your management skills requires analysis and reflection. It’s important to record what and how you practice, the results of new tools or techniques, and your daily management observations.

In Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg describes how William Carlos Williams, a pediatrician and poet, often wrote on prescription pads between patient visits. As a result, his works contain many prescription-pad-sized poems. I’m reminded of this story whenever I start a fresh notebook. “Our tools affect the way we form our thoughts.”

How you record your practice is a personal choice but I recommend experimenting with different formats. If your day is spent in front of a keyboard, using pen and paper for your management observations may offer fresh inspiration. If your workspace is covered in post-it notes, transferring those thoughts to a Word document or electronic journal may help you see themes and patterns. Blogging your practice can also be productive, as it forces you to organize your thoughts for others to read.

If you struggle with remembering to record your practice, iDoneThis offers a free service that I’ve found useful. They send you a reminder email at the end of each day and you simply reply with what you’ve accomplished. Your responses are automatically saved to your personal calendar for later review. To make this tool most effective, combine it with a scheduled block of time to reflect on your daily “dones” and draft a plan for integrating what worked into your management toolkit.

 

(Hat tip to Dan Pink for recommending iDoneThis.)

 

This post contains affiliate links to Powell’s Books.