Improving the barn

It’s always easy to burn down the barn. It’s a lot harder to rebuild it.

With experience comes empathy and appreciation for the complexity and messiness of working systems like democracies, companies, healthcare, schools, and software.

Sometimes you have to learn the hard way, which is sad because the precious treasure you lose during the lesson is gone forever, and certain decisions are irreversible.

Seek out and listen to people who have seen it and done it. Wisdom comes from making mistakes, correcting course, and persisting. Some people were once in the same position as you, and that’s why they are trying to help.

Being kind and strong are not incompatible

“Going high is the only thing that works. But let’s be clear: Going high does not mean putting on a smile and saying nice things when confronted by viciousness and cruelty. Going high means taking the harder path. It means scraping and clawing our way to that mountain top.”

Michelle Obama

Sights and sounds of lockdown

The sights and sounds that drift through the window during a lockdown are different from beeping access doors of an office with the humming printers, elevator dings, and the sounds of keyboards.

I’ve gotten used to some new middle of the day sounds from my neighbors: 

The sharp slap of a skipping rope on concrete.

The clang of equipment hitting other equipment and dropped weights. 

A child practicing scales on a trombone.

The dog next door barking and getting shouted at by his owner. 

Empty wine bottles dumped into a recycling bin.

A food delivery motorbike whizzing by.

There’s no going back to 2019. 

Living in an atomic and Covid age

“In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs.”

C.S. Lewis – “On Living in an Atomic Age” (1948) in Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays”