This list has received positive feedback. It seems to have struck a nerve. Sending it to coincide with Monday morning to help folks navigate their week.
Take care of yourself. Your brain is working overtime—all the time. Practice “radical” recovery.
You may spend a lot longer thinking about things than most people. Pace your delivery.
If you go deep first, and then simplify…keep in mind that you don’t need to show all of your work.
Your default description of (almost) any problem will be too threatening/overwhelming.
Do your deepest thinking with co-conspirators (not the people you’re trying to influence).
Informal influence is often not formally recognized. Prepare mentally for this.
The people you’re trying to influence spend 98% of their day overwhelmed by business as usual.
Remember to also do the job you were hired to do (if you don’t you’ll be easier to discount).
Seek “quick wins”, but know that most meaningful things will take a while.
Some things take ages to materialize. It is discontinuous, not continuous.
Make sure to celebrate your wins. They will be few and far between, so savor the moment.
The people who support you in private may not be able to support you in public. Accept that.
Hack existing power structures—it’s much easier than trying to change them.
Consider becoming a formal leader. It’s harder in many ways, but you’ll have more leverage. What’s stopping you?
In lieu of being a formal leader, make sure to partner with people who actually “own” the area of change.
Watch out for imposing your worldview on people. Have you asked about what people care about?.
You’ll need a support network. And not just a venting network. Real support.
“Know when to fold ‘em”. Listen to Kenny Rogers The Gambler. Leave on your own terms.
Don’t confuse being able to sense/see system dynamics, with being about to “control” them. You can’t.
Grapple with your demons, and make sure not to wrap up too much of your identity in change.
I love these John, thanks. It's often hard not to gaslight yourself and a quick squiz at these puts things nicely back in perspective with suggestions for compromise and the knowledge that other people are going through the same over-thought processes :)
This resonates with me so much. Especially 4 and 16, which are traps that I've fallen into a number of times. Another learning for me has been that many system optimizations that seem perfect on paper don't acknowledge the level of ambiguity, randomness, and creativity that is a part of our lives and work. Making space for that can be quite uncomfortable, but that doesn't mean we should shy away from it.
Thanks for sharing!