The Future As Seen By Me In 2010

Well looky here, things one has scanned in eh. (ignore the photo, that's some guy that made some accounting software, not sure what became of him ;) MIKE RIVERSDALE is fuming. The expensive headphones he bought in Sydney three weeks ago have just died. His first reaction is not to randomly spill expletives into his coffee, but to use his iPhone to vent his frustration to his Twitter con- tacts, under the moniker Miramar Mike. "I will also put, 'What should I do?' It's a conversation. I'm reaching out to the people following me." The council predicts hand-held digital devices such as smartphones will rule the world in 2040. They already rule the life of Mr Riversdale, whose company WaveAdept helps businesses adapt - their computing sys- tems to allow staff to work from anywhere - and with anyone. In order of fre- equency, he uses his iPhone to tweet (1136 followers; 8363 tweets since joining), e-mail, make phone calls and use online services, such as checki

YES! We can "get back to normal"

With two unrelated tweets I realised why "going back to normal" is such a deep fundamental desire and why we are seeing that word so many times.

Bill Bennett, journalist and tech writer here in New Zealand, popped up link to Economics New Zealand: Where are we? (4-May-2020), and I instantly baulked at the phrase "... going back to normal" and challenged Bill on it. He responded beautifully and I had an epiphany.
Normal is NOT a set of circumstances. It's NOT an environment we can describe. it's NOT a series of routines we run through, and it's NOT about being in the office or working from home.

It's not even about other people.
As sociologist Allan Horowitz points out, the dilemma that “normality” forces upon us is that “in most cases no formal rules or standards indicate what conditions are normal”. In the absence of such rules, those who wish to identify normality will normally turn to one of three different definitions. The first is the statistical view, “where ‘the normal’ is whatever trait most people in a group display”. Normal is what is typical, what most people do – which means it is impossible for any individual to be normal.
(source: Why it will be so hard to return to ‘normal’ by Brandon Ambrosino 24th April 2020)

Normal is the emotional place inside ourselves where we feel safe. Normal is where we don't have to be looking over our shoulders for hidden dangers. It's that place within us that matches our worldview and that we can, emotionally, rest within.

For some normal is an ever increasing world of change (me!), for others it is the daily routine of 9-5 office life, and for others it is being able to make money.

Normal is a state of mind, different for everyone, and we all yearn to have normal, to be safe, rested, and productive.


The second tweet came from Tim Kong, a man of many talents and insights (his blog is most excellent), which brought together my reckon into normal and how we are not normal at the moment.
With this tweet I realised that we are not in normal. Yeah, look, it sounds obvious but we like to fool ourselves that this is normal with added weird things, like working on the kitchen table.

It is normal if you think about normal is the sense of its circumstances, or environment, or a series of routines we run through. It's work, it's making the tea, it's meetings with colleagues, it's all those normal things many did before and are doing now. But that's NOT what normal is, as we now know. The way we are working is NOT normal in every way you can think of but especially with our states of mind and our desire to be safe, rested, and productive. 

All of us, you, me, your staff, are working hard in a NOT NORMAL headspace. Oh, sure they are coping, the work is getting done, but they may be burning up inside.

Getting back to the office, the last place where it was "normal", is a natural instinct, but we kid ourselves we find "normal" in an office, it will have echoes, memories, but it's inside where normal lives.


My request, no my plea, to each and every employee, manager, executive, is to do the following
  1. Check in with yourself
  2. Share with your staff
  3. Describe what makes your business normal for your staff
    How does it make them feel, what is it that they get from working
  4. Explicitly plan for normal
    Working practices yada yada yada, say WHY you're asking for everyone to come back to the office, is it to connect them coz that's how you feel "normal"?. If you can't do something else.
  5. Share and evolve your plan
    Normal, once understood, is fairly complex if not evolving. How you echo normal in your workplace can be done a myriad of ways, some will work, some won't.
Now is the time to prepare for the rush, the onslaught, the tsunami of feelings and therefore behaviours you are going to have when the lockdown levels release them.

Don't wait for your staff to crash and burn, be proactive and let them rest, be more than usually generous in sick leave, recognise the massive effort needed by everyone just to operate.

Mostly recognise that normal is NOT a place, or a process, or even people, it's what's in your mind and how you feel safe, productive, and worthy.
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
(source: Viktor Frankl on the Human Search for Meaning, by Maria Popova)

#BeKind

  • What Is “Normal,” Anyway?, Jim Kozubek on February 22, 2018
  • What Is Normal?, By Peter Kramer, published November 1, 2009 


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