#1. A quick tutorial on pushing back at work.
Two themes here.
One is that I think there is a very valuable skill set around asserting yourself that is distinct from being a pushy person. So I try to look for ways to teach that in the newsletter.
The other is that I find people who need this skill set (like me) often get there by simply working their asses off. You don’t just wake up assertive. Instead, you overprepare and overtrain.
So when you decide to push back and challenge someone, make sure the target of that argument is the idea, not the person.
For example, I would say:
“I’m not sure if this is the right strategy for our organization. Should we consider this factor as more important?”
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#2. Feeling good about the process.
It’s a trite bit of advice in self-improvement that you should focus on process over results. It’s true, but it’s also not nearly that simple.
I worked at the company that launched Twitter but left very early. I didn’t have to leave but it had drama that I didn’t want to be a part of. I think my rationale for leaving was solid and so it was a good process. The result though was that if I stayed I would have made north of $20M.
That’s a big missed result to live with. I’ve spent years rationalizing it to the point where I literally experience gratitude that I left. The rationalization is that it gave me the opportunity to grow. Would I rather be rich and stuck at who I was at age 25 or be who I am now? I’d choose who I am now. But it’s still a mind-f*ck to be that close.
I’m in a different, not nearly as high stakes, business negotiation right now. The counterparty sometimes reads this newsletter— but I’m not trying to “subtweet” them. I just pull the content of this newsletter from my work and so this is a natural topic.
This time around I am also very satisfied with my process. I trust it even though I don’t know what result it will produce. What is very different is that I like myself now in a way that you can’t really like yourself in your twenties. So I’m learning a lesson about this trite advice to trust the process. In order to truly trust the process, you have to be a really strong person.
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#3. An update on long Covid.
I’d been wanting an updated summary on the state of long Covid and Bob Wachter at UCSF delivered in this thread
I’m totally aware of what a bummer this is, & how nice it would be to wish Long Covid away. But I can’t.
Risk calculations are so difficult. I’ve shared the concept of micromorts
as a measure of fatal risk so that you can compare an unfamiliar risk with something more familiar such as driving a car. But risks like long Covid that are significant changes in your quality of life are even harder to measure. Basically, if you are hoping that by doing the math you will achieve certainty, you won’t.
Sarah and I settled on fairly conservative day-to-day living but for reasons that are specific to us. We have family concerns and the balance we’ve struck is still a very good life. For example, instead of eating inside at restaurants, we dine outside with our dog. That’s actually an upgrade. It’s a very personal decision though and I can’t give much advice other than to be thoughtful, to be open to changing your mind, and to trust your process no matter the result.
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