Weeknotes S03 Ep05

Imagine this lady is talking about me, last week.

The Comedown

Overarching feeling of the week

I should know by now not to compare weeks with one another; they are like children, all different.

In comparison to the elation of last week I think the only suitable word to describe this one is: meh.

Tyler Durden knows what I’m talking about.

I’ve been feeling low on energy, small things have been irritating, frustrating, needling me.

That little devil, imposter syndrome, has come back from what I can only assume was a lovely 1 week holiday somewhere hot and is now fully refreshed and *in my brain* chattering away loudly.

“You are a fake.” SHUT UP WEDNESDAY ADAMS!

Still, a week of meh means a week of learning. So lots of lessons here.

Achievements

I’ve actually started handing work over and have given responsibility for most of it to other people now. It means I can tidy up the last few things and work on other bits that I want to finish before I leave.

I have relinquished control and actually it’s a bit of a relief.

IN CONTROL: Not anymore animal, somebody else has that responsibility now.

I made some real progress on the AI issue I’ve been thinking a lot about, made some good connections in the right areas which mean that this will move on and I can relax a bit more about it. I know my colleague Joe will be able to handle this after I leave.

Part of this meant that on Tuesday I attended the Cross Government AI Community of Practice meeting that Stefan ran at BEIS.

It was interesting. I got the impression that there were a few people there who were a bit sick of talking about ethics and “what ifs”. They are further along in their journey and understanding than I am, they rightly want to get on with it. Wednesday Adams was sat on my shoulder the entire time.

Highlights

On Monday afternoon we held a discovery kick-off for a new digital service.

Kick-offs signal the end of my involvement and scoping, and a handover to Luke’s digital team for them to work on.

I really enjoy these meetings, I enjoy talking about the problem space and seeing the teams’ brains whirring about how they’re going to deliver the thing, thinking about what they need to do.

I enjoy talking through the context, adding information, and explaining. I’m always a bit sad because it feels like I’m handing over a baby I’ve worked really hard on, but the kick-offs make me feel pretty proud too.

Another highlight was wine and cheese with Luke, Wendy and (ex-colleague) Ally on Wednesday night. Good to get out and talk about things which aren’t work, I will miss these guys.

A mouse with cheese.

Lessons

As I mentioned above, a few lessons this week. Some things I need to work on, and hopefully, an idea of how I might achieve them.

1. I’ve got to learn to ignore bad Tuesdays.

Tuesdays aren’t good for me

On Tuesday this week I just had a day where nothing seemed to go right, or rather, a few things weren’t quite right, but that caused me a disproportionate amount of irritation and made me feel really pants.

I could go into details here but it would be self-indulgent, needless to say I was tired and some of my cheese was moved. I need to learn not to snowball my issues.

2. Learning to (really) listen to feedback is hard

In the morning on Tuesday I received feedback from two colleagues whose opinions I value really highly.

Even though there were a lot of positives, there were also some things for me to work on. I wasn’t in a good frame of mind for it and I dwelled on it for most of the day.

Some of the feedback made me feel defensive. My brain immediately went on a journey to evidence why it was wrong, to defend myself, to prove this person wrong.

Simon Amstell says you’re wrong.

That’s not a good state to be in. It took me a while but I eventually managed to have a word with myself.

I don’t think all of the feedback is quite right, but what is most difficult is actually taking a deep breath and acknowledging the truth within it.

It’s the truth.

Some of the feedback was that I hadn’t been quite clear in my communications. That unsettled me because I think I do that well. I want to know what has gone wrong in this instance.

I’ve asked the colleague if we can meet for a coffee next week to chat it through, and I hope he can give me some examples that I can work from. I want his feedback and value his opinion; and I want to be honest with myself about my limitations too.

3. Leaving your job can make you a terrible person (for a while) [1]

In Jonathan’s weeknotes last week he spoke about leaving a role and about framing that situation.

A screenshot from Jonathan’s weeknotes. I’m sorry if you can’t read this, I know this isn’t good practice, but I do recommend reading the whole blog which I’ve linked above.

It’s was really useful for me to read because I’ve been harbouring a secret desire that on my leaving, things in my team will fall apart.

I see that reveals me to be hugely self-centred, but I want to feel indispensable. I know I’m not. But I want to feel like the work I’ve been doing has been important.


Obviously I know that not everything will fall apart, I know that the people I leave behind are competent, good, driven people who will carry on doing that good work.

This move to a new job feels important for me though and, selfishly, I want it to feel important for my team. I am working on this.

4. I need to “be more generous”

There’s a colleague that I’ve worked with for a long time and I feel like we always clash on one particular issue and don’t seem to be able to move past it.

When it comes up I’m frustrated and irritated because he seems so inflexible and doesn’t seem to understand what, I think, is a straightforward concept which we have discussed many times.

Jasmine looking puzzled.

He is probably wondering why I’m always so adversarial with him and why I’m not budging.

Cute little girls fighting.

I need to learn to be more patient. I’m not sure why I’m not affording him more time and explaining my reasoning as I would with any other colleague, I guess I feel like he should just know this stuff. That’s not fair of me. I need to be better at this.

In other news…

This week Dafydd Vaughan wrote an interesting blog which has been picked up all over Twitter…

It’s an interesting point, and one which does deserve thinking about some more.

Something did unsettle me about this though, and when I saw this tweet from Andy I realised what it was…

It’s something that I’ve thought previously. Calling on leadership to think about doing better is one thing, but also there’s a tone which suggests that those still working in the area aren’t doing what they can or aren’t trying. That’s just not the case.

Stefan [2] responded to the blog (about blogs) with another brilliant blog (about blogs) which pleased me immensely.

This, once again, reminded me that if you’ve ever puzzled through something, the chances are Stefan has too (often years earlier) and has blogged about it in a totally accessible, concise and helpful way.

This, in turn, reminded me of another blog that I read this week by Jon Atkinson:

http://www.heartoftheart.org/?p=6233

It’s about how countercultural movements end up becoming subsumed into the culture, and about the challenges that brings. Its really interesting and something that chimed with a few things I’ve been thinking about recently.


I saw in the last week that Paul Downey is leaving GDS. I didn’t know him, but the number of people publicly thanking him for his support and help over the years has been absolutely inspiring. Most of us can only hope to achieve this in our own careers (and also to amass this number of stickers).

He also tweeted this, this morning, and I love it.

Finally, here’s what I’ve been listening to this week. Stick it in your ears:


[1] Jonathan is not a terrible person. I think he’s a top person and I’m glad to know him, that comment was about myself.

[2] Yep, a weeknote with two separate Stefans. Deal with it.

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