A busy month. FOG Readability Index. Non-coercive Marketing.
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The last few weeks have been draining. I had 2 weeks of reservist, which disrupted my work and family routines. Following that, there was covid in both grandparent homes, leaving us with limited childcare support. In the background, work is also entering a peak and moving faster.
We’ve survived though, and came out of it tired but in good spirits. It does show weve matured as a couple and a family to face challenges better, and its something to be proud of. We even managed to make it to a good anniversary dinner at Kotuwa.
Two thoughts came to mind over this period:
I don’t doubt that national service is important, but it disrupts life, especially for parents. I accept that. What I find inconsistent is that we don’t mind making employers work around these obligations, but are hesitant to implement more pro family workplace legislation because it would be disruptive to employers.
Being able to work anywhere, with just a phone, doesn’t mean I should always do so. The amount of mental drain from trying to do deep work on my phone took alot out of me over these weeks. It's a power best reserved for emergencies, not a filler for downtime.
I found this interesting read on Farnam Street about the idea of Friction. It talks about friction as the difficulty to get someone to do something. It makes a point that, between 2 workers, the one with less friction is more valuable to the company.
This reminded me of a former colleague whose first reaction whenever work touched his desk, was to argue about why he couldn’t do it. Maybe he had other priorities, or maybe the other person needed to do something else or talk to someone else before he would be willing to start. I found it ironic that the thing making him most busy, was wasting time arguing about this. The work would always find him in the end.
But, I think we all already know that friction is bad. If we could, we would all want to be more helpful, more efficient, more valuable. The more important question is, why do people create friction?
The problem with eliminating friction is that while your value improves, its likely to be overlooked. If its too easy to be helpful, you might be taken for granted. You may be piled with more tasks, or people assume your work is easy and unimportant. It’s like the IKEA effect where we mistakenly treasure things more just because we put more effort into them.
Try to reduce friction by being understanding and flexible, and you get burned when you take the blame for something going wrong.
We create friction out of fear. It is a safety net from being exploited.
Maybe we can contribute to the world running more smoothly if we do our part to give others confidence to reduce friction. Take the effort to recognise their effort and sacrifice, even if they don’t make it explicit. Drop perfectionism when its not needed, be understanding about mistakes, and stop trying to find blame.
Non-coercive marketing is marketing that focuses on empowering the customer to make a decision for themselves, rather than being manipulating into a decision made for them by the marketer. Its the first time I heard of this concept, and I like it for creating a contrasting lens to view and understand the dehumanising form mainstream marketing can take.
Having a daughter means I’m now acquainted well with all Disney Princess movies. This analysis of Gaston provokes thought about how people can get away with horrible things, just because they have characteristics that are well looked upon by society.
A way to check if a piece of writing can be understood widely. People seek comfort, so it’s important that writing isint just readable, it has to be several levels below their maximum readability. I’m convinced that the lack of readability is a barrier to positive change. Last year, I tried reading some of the reports coming out of COP26 and found them impossible to get through in my limited time and energy. It doesn’t matter how accurate science or policy is, if people can’t easily understand it. If they can’t understand it, they can’t get behind it to help push for change.
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