Old Chess Saying

You should probably know that I was a chess geek growing up… it probably explains a few things:

  • I like my moves having more than one purpose.
  • I am uncomfortable until I can see all the pieces in play.
  • I don’t just play the game: I also play the player.

So when my wife bought us a Masterclass membership, I took a beeline to one of my heroes: Garry Kasparov:

  • He was the world chess champion when I was a kid.
  • He represented humanity against computers.
  • He also has a double ‘r’ in his first name.

In his first lesson he drops this:

“Tactics is knowing what to do when there is something to do, while strategy is knowing what to do when there is nothing to do.”

old chess saying

I just love that so much.

Sit with it. Let it wash over you. Soak it in.

As I get more comfortable in my own skin, getting aligned with “my why” ‘n’ all that, I’m reconnecting with parts of me that were conduits of a flow state, thus leading me to beauties like the above. This includes working through Emanuel Lasker’s “Common Sense in Chess” from 1917 with my daughter, coincidentally showing her (see above about multi-purpose moves) that letters don’t just spell words for prose or poetry, but also stories played out over a board with jumping horsies and other characters.

Anyway, no analysis for that one. Just sharing ’cause it’s been a while.

It’s Like Personal Tech Debt

In the course of daily events, I may not clear my inbox by the end of the day (or week), I may write notes in a few places (instead of one), and I may allow stuff to pile up on my desk (starting with the edges, slowly creeping towards the middle).

It’s not really in my way… it’s not impeding me, per se, from getting stuff done on the daily, but over time, it builds up past some threshold of, “OK. Now this shit is encroaching on my physical & psychological comfort.”

This amassed entropy? It’s like personal tech debt.

Right? I mean, that’s how I think about it. I’ve never coded for a living, but this analogy seems fair.

OK. Fine. Let’s see what Wikipedia says…

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Bias to Inquiry is Hard

I’ve got a Bias to Action. My wife will call me a Fact Finder, which is true, and at some point… I do make a move.

I recently learned the phrase “Bias to Inquiry”, which is useful in the world of an Agile Coach: you run across a behaviour you deem odd, and instead of wanting to act on it, you first seek to learn about it. Context is key. History can be insightful. Figure out why there’s a fence across the road before trying to tear it down. It’s the fifth Habit.

This Bias to Inquiry is something I do at work – I get paid to be diplomatic.

This blog post is to acknowledge aloud that Bias to Inquiry at home is hard.

Let’s take a benign example:

Oh, lookie here! Clothes strewn in the hallway. I’m going to make a quick decision and either kick it aside or take a detour to throw ’em in the hamper.

Then there’s a more contentious example:

Oh, lookie here! You believe some fantastical conspiracy theory about the election or vaccines. I… don’t even know where to begin.

I don’t always have the time or energy to first seek to understand bullshit. Maybe I should be more open-minded. Maybe I should have more grains of salt with what information I consume in general. Being open to learning is generally good for one’s survival, so why not apply that in these cases?

I’m just saying it’s hard.

My Approach to Sharing a Screen

I’ll be blunt, starting with a sample inner monologue:

Oh, you’re about to share your screen during this Zoom meeting? OK. Let’s do this. Oh, can I see your screen? Yes. Thanks for asking: the technology worked. Oh, you want me to focus over in that part of the shared screen? Sorry, that shit’s too small. Can you make it bigger? Is that all you can do? Well that’s annoying… Just keep going. I’ll lean in and squint.

Let’s do better.

When facilitating a Zoom meeting, and I’m going to share a screen, I have a Driving Principle: Actively remove from the screen what is not part of the conversation. I’ll even do this after I’ve started sharing, as education via a “before ‘n’ after” micro-session, showing off my tactics in a live demo, making the world a better place…

Continue reading My Approach to Sharing a Screen