I don’t know when this post will be published, but I started writing it at 6:13 AM on Saturday, May 16, 2015. I had woken up at 4:00 AM (which is usual for me) and started drafting a blog post that’s currently titled “The Stuff That’s Hard To Change“. Then, whilst in the midst of crafting that post, a partially formed idea popped into my head for another post. So I:
- pushed the first idea aside,
- executed a mental context switch, and
- started writing the second post (which is currently titled “Programs, Projects, Products“).
Whilst writing the second post, yet another idea for a third post (the one you’re currently reading) came to mind. So, yet again, I spontaneously performed a mental context switch and started writing this post. Sensing that something was amiss, I stepped back and found myself… thrashing all over the freakin’ place!
In case you’re wondering what my browser and visio tabs looked like during my maniacal, mutli-tasking, fiasco, here’s a peek into the semi-organized mess that was churning in my mind at the time:
Thankfully, I don’t enter a frenzied, ADHD, writing state that often. Because of my training as a software engineer and the meticulous thinking style required to write code, I’m usually a very focused, single-tasking, person – sometimes too focused, and oblivious to what’s happening outside of my head.
Oh, I almost forgot, but the act of writing the previous paragraph reminded me. I squeezed in a fourth task during my 4:00 AM to 6:00 AM stint at my computer. I prototyped a C++ function that I knew I needed to use at work soon:
I actually wrote that code first, prior to entering my thrashful writing state. And, in extreme contrast to my blogging episode, I wrote the code in a series of focused, iterative, write/test/fix, feedback loops. There was no high speed context-switching involved. It’s strange how the mind works.
The mind is like a box of chocolates. Ya never know what you’re gonna get.
My twitter bio reads: “Fumbling, bumbling, stumbling, exploring, discovering, and being. So many ings!“. As that “ing-ful” first sentence implies, I’m always poking around for new ideas and alternative ways of looking at various aspects of the world. To BD00, ing–ing one’s way through life is a big part of really living life itself. Life is too short to stop ing–ing. But hey, it’s just badass BD00’s opinion; it doesn’t have to be yours.
When I first discover some novel and interesting work from someone I never heard of before, my levels of excitement and curiosity rise. I then dive a little deeper into the work in an honest attempt at ferreting out and understanding the real foundational substance of the work. If (heaven forbid!) I judge a newly discovered work as “meh“, then I move my attention onward toward the next adventurous expedition. There’s no sense in wasting time on something that doesn’t tingle my nerve endings with new meaning. Again, life is too short, no?
If (heaven forbid!) I judge that a newly discovered work is “good” or “bad“, then I get hooked and my current mental models of the world get rattled to an extent proportional to the work’s influence over me. Hell, my mental model(s) may even move off their concrete foundations a bit. In the areas of systems thinking and institutional behaving, the brilliant works of people like Deming, Ackoff, Argyris, MacGregor, Livingston, Warfield, Powers, Starkermann, Forrester, Meadows, Bateson, and Wheatley have considerably shaped my foundational views.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve decided to share with you below the relatively benign (compared to this people-oriented, blasphemous model) state transition diagram model of what I suppose goes on inside BD00’s forever ing–ing mind. As you can surmise, the external behaviors (speaking, writing) that I manifest while dwelling in the “sharing” state are bound to piss some people off. Also notice that, in homage to my man Shakespeare, I have inserted a “pausing” state in the model. It’s purpose, which doesn’t always get fulfilled, is to inhibit “the rush to judgment” malady that we all to some extent exhibit(?).
Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful – George Box
What does your thinking model look like? I’m especially interested in hearing from those of you who “think” you have transcended the innate human trait of judging objects – the set of which includes people. What would a world without judging look like? Would it be worth striving toward a world without any judging at all? Is it realistic to think there can be a world where people only judge “non-people” objects? BD00 doesn’t “think” so. D’oh!
The title of this post should have been “It’s Hammurabi Time!”, but it’s not as catchy as “It’s Hammer Time!“.
King Hammurabi lived over 2000 years ago and he was perhaps the first staunch “eye for an eye” dude:
Too bad we don’t have a slightly less Draconian, modern day version of Hammurabi’s creed that applies to Wall St. bankers (who take bailout money), crooked politicians (who get re-elected), and self-serving executives (who get unconditional exit bonuses). Many of these dudes do massive harm to their constituents without having to account for their actions.
Actually, we do have laws that attempt to ensure justice is served, but we also have expensive lawyers who ensure that the rich and powerful can play the game without any skin in it.
How do I get to become a member of the “All Upside and No Downside” club?
Bravery, courage, self-confrontation, acceptance-of-limitations? WTF! BD00 doesn’t possess any of those attributes. But when the ink dries on this blog post, he’ll go back to foolishly thinking he does (what about you?). Mr. Taleb is right – mother nature is a tricky be-otch.
While writing the “Rule-Based Safety” post of a few days ago, this quote kept interfering with my thoughts:
Whenever I end up simultaneously holding two opposing ideas in my head, most of the time one of them automatically wins the battle quickly and boots out the loser. Phew, the victory relieves the mental tension. On the down-side, the winner is much too effective at preventing the opposition from ever entering the contemplation chamber again. I hate when that happens.
Nassim Taleb nails it with this simple but profound sentence:
Our minds are not quite designed to understand how the world works, but, rather, to get out of trouble rapidly and have progeny. – Nassim Taleb (Fooled By Randomness)
We human beings are so full of ourselves. With much hubris, we auto-assume that we are above all other life forms just because we can “think“. We concoct immortal and all-powerful gods in our minds who we “think” are watching over our well-being (but not the well being of those we don’t like). Then, when something terrible happens, we wonder “why” our gods could allow such a tragedy. Instead, maybe we should contemplate “why not?“.
The ability to “think” has unquestioningly made life more comfortable locally for the human race over time. However, it’s questionable whether “thinking” has made human life more comfortable globally. Unlike a “mindless” swarm of locusts that ravish the environment with a vengeance, we “mindful” humans seem to be ravishing our environment and other fellow humans at an increasingly alarming rate as our “thinking” supposedly evolves.