I sometimes talk about the three words, discovery, reflection and efficacy. It’s the reflection that is the force multiplier; the better I get at that, the more it looks like a super-power. Sometimes it’s not possible to view something after I’ve done it, but I can always mentally review.

Ask yourself: what went well? How did you prepare? What did you wear? Who was your audience? What was your internal monologue before you stepped up to speak? In that moment when you got distracted, what had happened? What were you thinking about? How did you get back on track (if you did)? What was on your mind that day?

~ Angie Flynn-McIver from,

Flynn-McIver is talking about public speaking, but those are wonderful questions for any context.

Unfortunately, I can get caught up spinning in circles over-thinking things. I’ve recently had good luck using a particular question to create an exit–ramp from my over-thinking. I ask myself: If I could answer these questions, would it enable me to do something? Because when I’m spinning in my over-thinking, I’ve forgotten about that third word in my little mantra: efficacy.


Prepare for opposition

Comedians are prepared for hecklers. People in retail are prepared for irate customers. Pilots prepare for engine fires. It rains when our picnic is scheduled, blizzards cancel our travel plans, and meetings go sideways.

A great question arose in our conversation: “What do I do if I’ve prepared a deliberate intention, and someone else has an intention that is opposed to it?”

~ Angie Flynn-McIver from,

There’s no trick. A magician is simply willing to invest vastly more time and money than any sane person (which includes you, watching the performance.) Things are more likely to go well, the better we prepare; And better doesn’t mean simply more hours spent preparing. Better preparation means whatever it means for whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish. If you meet surprising opposition, that’s your failure of imagination.

That said, if you are generally well-prepared, then the surprise of opposition is a rare and precious gift. It’s an opportunity for learning and improvement.


I try to ask myself, “why?”

Contribute your suggestion without having built a body of work, without evidence of significant expertise and without being willing to take responsibility for what happens next.

It’s a form of yelling from the bleachers.

~ Seth Godin from,

I was totally this person. Once I saw what was going on and I could work on owning and eliminating this aspect of my behavior. Awareness (after discovery), ownership (after reflection), and efficacy. The red-flag is when I’m queueing the words, “You know what you should…” for speaking. Stop. Stop stop stop. It’s like the humorous but often–true aphorism that nothing you say before the word, “but” matters. I never (okay, fine, I’m still working on it) say whatever was about to come after, “You know what you should do…” Because why ever say that?

I like to give a hat-tip to Angie Flynn-McIver any time I start talking about intention, as I’m about to. I realized that my intention behind that thing I no longer say was to demonstrate how much I knew. It doesn’t matter to the other person how much I know. What might matter to them is whether or not I can help them. It’s potentially better if I engage with the intention of being helpful. How would saying, “you should change your menu…” ever be helpful to the wait-staff, to the manager, to the chef or owner? The menu is beyond their control, or they have already thought about it way more than I have and have vastly deeper domain knowledge. If my intention is (as it now is) to be helpful, I should be paying attention for signs subtle or direct that someone would like help. Only then might I have something useful to add, but probably not.



One of the toughest parts of coming to grips with how we communicate is being really honest with ourselves about our default intentions.

~ Angie Flynn-McIver from,

Angie makes a good point. Go read her post while it’s top-of-your-mind. (It’s short. I’ll wait here for you…)

I have this perennial itch to try to teach people how to use the tools I’m using to wrestle the Internet into being a source of wonder, inspiration and knowledge about our universe. But for the life of me I can never figure out a good way to do it. I feel like I should be able to take 30+ years of learning and futzing with computers and the Internet, and generate some manageably-sized chunks of learning that others could use. I’ve an Internet tech tag that, I suppose, is me doing my best.

What’s that? …what does that paragraph have to do with that quote? Oh, right, sorry…

I enjoy being able to notice when Angie writes, and I appreciate that I get exposed to what she writes when it works for me. That’s thanks to my use of RSS tools.


When to quit

The next time you’re feeling stymied and frustrated, look at the clock. When is your best time to create, to analyze, to think? Is it early or late? Are you trying to fit a square peg into a round hole?

~ Angie Flynn-McIver, from

I often feel my entire existence is a vicious cycle of plan, plan, over-plan… until I rebel against the self-imposed structures and tear down all the walls and systems. But one thing is ever present: I never know when to quit.

I should amend that. Until very recently, I never knew when to quit. That does not mean I now always know when to quit, and it certainly does not mean that I do quit when I should. But every once in a great while, it occurs to me that now would be the perfect time to stop.

Way too often I feel I don’t have the time to do something at the right time and try to just jam the square peg in. One more task before dinner. One more thing to organize before this. One more thing. One more thing. One more thing.