Idea Surplus Disorder #46

In this edition, Filament's year ahead, building brag documents, using difficulty, magic erasers, meetings as plays, tattoos, TicTacs, hornless reindeer, pasta playlists, and more.

Idea Surplus Disorder #46

Welcome to 2024. I’m Matt Homann, the founder of Filament, and I’m glad you’re here!

We started Filament because we believe the world works better when people meet better, and we're making 2024 the year we double down on expanding our reach and multiplying our impact. Here's ,:

  • Meetings: We're launching several new "turn-key" meetings, including a brand-new strategy package we've been piloting and a "Team Tune-Up" focused on team/company culture and connection. To make our meetings more accessible to budget-conscious organizations, we'll share a handful of discounted "Last Minute Meeting" openings.
  • Methods: We'll share more of our facilitation methods on our blog, LinkedIn, YouTube, and elsewhere.
  • Tools: Once monthly, I'll share a downloadable Filament Tool in this newsletter. We'll start next week with our go-to expectation-setting framework: I wish, I wonder, I worry ...
  • Training: We've created several new training offerings that blend the best of what we've learned with our unique, facilitated "workshoppy" approach. Look for more here in a few weeks as we revise our website.

Oh, and one more thing: in 2024, we're reimagining what an innovative, creative, collaborative, helpful, inclusive, introvert-friendly, no B.S., non-networking event might look like if it's powered by Filament. Stay tuned ...

Writer Zora Neale Hurston says, ''There are years that ask questions and years that answer." 2024 is an answer year for us. We hope it will be one for you, too.

Insights + Ideas

You know those insecurities you've got about work? Your CEO has them, too:

The biggest fear is being found to be incompetent, also known as the “imposter syndrome.” This fear diminishes their confidence and undermines relationships with other executives.
Their other most common fears, in descending order, are underachieving, which can sometimes make them take bad risks to overcompensate; appearing too vulnerable; being politically attacked by colleagues, which causes them to be mistrustful and overcautious; and appearing foolish, which limits their ability to speak up or have honest conversations.
The five top fears resulted in these dysfunctional behaviors: a lack of honest conversations, too much political game playing, silo thinking, lack of ownership and follow-through, and tolerating bad behaviors.
Asked to think about the fallout from those dysfunctional behaviors, the executives mentioned more than 500 consequences. Those mentioned most frequently were poor decision-making, focusing on survival rather than growth, inducing bad behavior at the next level down, and failing to act unless there’s a crisis.

Longtime readers know that I love all kinds of "things I learned" lists. Here are a few more I found (along with a few favorites from each):

  • Morgan Housel's 100 Little Ideas:
    • Three Men Make a Tiger: People will believe anything if enough people tell them it’s true. It comes from a Chinese proverb that if one person tells you there’s a tiger roaming around your neighborhood, you can assume they’re lying. If two people tell you, you begin to wonder. If three say it’s true, you’re convinced there’s a tiger in your neighborhood and you panic.
    • Ringelmann Effect: Members of a group become lazier as the size of their group increases. Based on the assumption that “someone else is probably taking care of that.”
    • Planck’s Principle: “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”
  • Eighty-one Things That Blew Our Minds in 2023:
    • When you look at a tattoo, you’re seeing ink shining in the “belly” of an immune cell that has gobbled up the ink and failed to digest it.
    • A pill may be easier to swallow if you turn your head as it goes down.
    • Fifteen percent of daily Google searches have never been searched before, according to the company.
  • Kent Hendricks' 52 Things I Learned in 2023:
    • Santa’s reindeer are all female. Male reindeer don’t start growing antlers until February, so any reindeer with antlers hauling goods on Christmas Eve wouldn’t be male.
    • One reason the United States didn’t adopt the metric system was because the ship crossing the Atlantic from France carrying a standard kilogram—yes, a real physical object—requested by Thomas Jefferson in 1793 was blown off course into the Caribbean and captured by pirates.
    • Tic Tacs are labeled as sugar free even though they are 94% sugar. As long as there’s less than half a gram of sugar, the FDA permits products to be labeled sugar free. Each Tic Tac has 0.49 grams of sugar.
    • Most of the pasta made in Italy is from wheat grown in Yuma, Arizona.

Want to have more fun? Surround yourself with playful people:

Connect with people who are more likely to support your efforts to play and enjoy life. People who like joking, trying new things, exploring interesting questions. Make friends who value playfulness and curiosity. Find your playmates.

What do you want your life to look like in five years’ time? Instead of answering it at face value, consider approaching it from the following three angles:

  • Your Current Path: Write out, in detail, what your life would look like five years from now if you continued down your current path.
  • Your Alternative Path: Write out, in detail, what your life would look like five years from now if you took a completely different path.
  • Your Radical Path: Write out, in detail, what your life would look like five years from now if you took a completely different path, where money, social obligations, and what people would think, were irrelevant.

Speaking of threes, describe each daily goal with the ABC's:

A: Most ambitious, perfect case. B: Middle ground, base case. C: Minimum viable level, downside case.
On days when you feel great, you hit your A Goal. On days when you feel ok (most days!), you hit your B Goal. On days when you feel bad, you hit your C Goal. The ABC Goal System removes any intimidation or guilt: As long as you hit your C Goal, you're making forward progress.

This is a great reminder from actor Michael Caine on Using the Difficulty.

Here's a fun resolution to make:

The best New Year’s resolution I’ve ever made (and kept!) was to read a children’s book before bed every night. It didn’t feel like a chore, and it brought me so much happiness to reread childhood favorites and discover books I’d never gotten around to reading.

Begin 2024 by keeping a brag document:

Instead of trying to remember everything you did with your brain, maintain a “brag document” that lists everything so you can refer to it when you get to performance review season! This is a pretty common tactic – when I started doing this I mentioned it to more experienced people and they were like “oh yeah, I’ve been doing that for a long time, it really helps”.
Where I work we call this a “brag document” but I’ve heard other names for the same concept like “hype document” or “list of stuff I did” :).

Unhappy minds wander in the past, while happy ones often ponder the future.

What if your team treated meetings more like plays and less like improv?

Fun Finds

Words of Wisdom

“Avoid calling heroes those who had no other choice.” – Taleb
"Life becomes more meaningful when you realize the simple fact that you will never get the same moment twice." – Anshika Bhatnagar
"Critics don't get to write your next show." – Lucian James
“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” — Buddha
“The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.” — Paulo Coelho
“My aim is not to be consistent with my previous statements on a given question, but to be consistent with truth as it may present itself to me at a given moment. The result has been that I have grown from truth to truth.”― Mahatma Gandhi
“Awareness, not age, leads to wisdom.” — Publius Syrus
"The information you consume each day is the soil from which your future thoughts are grown." – James Clear

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