Thoughts in Between Ed and Tech #5: Watch it Grow 🌱
#Unautomatable consistency wk 14/26
I’m on the train early this Friday, and I’ve finally optimized my route from home to the office. No more Millbrae station, except in passing.
The next chapter has begun.
I can feel it. My knowledge is growing. Of the individuals on our team, of our products, of our students. My impact and responsibilities are growing. I’m watching everything carefully and taking it seriously. I’m working as hard as I possibly can on this Head of Product thing.
Importantly, I’m still having a blast 🚀.
Yesterday was officially my 30th day of this new adventure. I’m starting to wrangle the beast in, and I still feel like I’m in the right place at the right time. Following that path of meaningful engagement.
I’m grateful to be here.
In fact, here is the other side of the train today, as I head south to Silicon Valley. My shift in viewpoint has allowed me to appreciate the unique beauty offered by the other side of the tracks.
There’s a familiarity, but also a newness.
I went down and to the left today.
That’s kind of how I feel after my first 30 days, heading into my next 30. Familiar, but new.
I’ve cleared some of the weeds, and have started planting some flowers. I’m ready to keep iterating on the clear-weeds-plant-flowers loop, and also want to reflect on where I’ve been already.
I feel like now is the time to appreciate some of the seeds already planted. While many seeds are still keeping warm underground, a few seedlings have started reaching toward the sky, and one or two others are even beginning to bud.
What a perfect opportunity to reframe the scene and to consciously spend a few moments watching the flowers grow.
Striving Toward Balance & Integration
I strive for integration. Between work and life, building and selling, directing and instructing, leading and following.
To balance and integrate requires focus, pruning, and relentless optimizing, via negativa.
Our company offsite last week helped me move towards integration. It helped me figure out what not to do. I feel fortunate and solid in terms of the direction that I’m moving in.
It’s the direction of growth.
Q2 has its foci.
This week, it’s been a lot easier to say “No, I will not take part in [A], but I will take part in [B],” or “Person [X] has the ball on that task until it gets to [Y] stage, where I will then take the handoff to execute [Z].”
The simple magic of defining purview and responsibility by identifying and clarifying the “what not to dos” for everyone is a gift. If allowed to flow down from leadership to the front lines, it’s a gift that keeps on giving.
We had a handful of new instructional staff begin working this week, and the transition served as an invaluable stress test for the systems and processes that support our courses. This week shone a light on areas ripe for improvements.
From mundane tasks like instructor onboarding to the more ephemeral to-dos like handing off implicit institutional knowledge not yet codified into explicit training, opportunities to teach and learn were abundant.
Many of us came together to solve problems collaboratively. This forced us to draw sharp lines between responsibilities, balance the load, and move toward a more integrated approach. We worked together to figure out what to do and what not to do.
As a result, I think that we all felt some collective growth as part of the group.
Mixing in the new with renewed energy amongst the instructional staff felt really good. It was palpable. It was even fun.
We’re excited about the transformational learning journeys that we’re poised to create for students in 2022.
☯️ My Yin to the Yang
You can’t have a Yin Yang without sharp lines. But you can’t have a Yin Yang without perfect balance either.
While it’s been a builder week for me, when I had the opportunity to sell, I seized it. While it’s been a director week for me, when I had instructor responsibilities, I dove down into the mud to pull weeds and plant flowers. I did this alongside the instructional staff, sometimes leading, and sometimes following.
Signposting for the road ahead, I know that in this role I won’t always be focused on seeds planted in the mud of our courses. However, that hasn’t stopped me from enjoying my time in the sun curating new gardens.
This week I’ve enjoyed giving all of the brand new, all of the re-newed, and all of the yet-to-be-made new the time and space to grow.
I’m enjoying paying attention to this stage of growth, just as I hope to enjoy the next one and the next one, somewhere between ed and tech.
And on the work-life front, I’ll be making my first trip back to Dayton, Ohio tomorrow since starting this new gig, where I’ll get to spend some valuable time with loved ones through the Easter holiday.
Integration of work and life in a meaningful way is the true seed of #unautomatable success, after all.