I’ve written more than 1,200 posts on this blog over the last 14 years. It’s become part of my life, and I can’t help but inquire what the practice brings to me.

I wrote about this in 2009, with a list of 44 Reasons I Blog (my current favorite from that list is number 27, “I’m a little compulsive.” You don’t say….)

My addition to this list, a 45th reason, has to do with “fiddling.”

As in: here’s something that’s just a thought, let’s see how it comes out with a bit of attention and effort.

It’s the same feeling I have when making a loaf of sourdough, something I (along with so many others) learned to do during the pandemic. A week ago I had a disastrous bread outcome, sad enough that we dumped the two brick-like loaves into the trash. The fault was my neglected starter, which I fiddled with over the course of the last week, nursing it back to health.

But even so, how the bread is going to come out remains a bit uncertain and a bit of a mystery. And that feeling, that un-knowing that is part of this small act of creating something from nothing, is what I find so satisfying.

It came out great this week.

Two loaves of homemade sourdough bread
I just switched over to setting my oven to Convection Bake (my wife’s suggestion) – now they’re much more golden and crispy!

In a life full of big obligations, a back-to-back schedule, and a reasonably rigorous approach to even my pastimes (see above re: “a little bit compulsive”), creating something that is quick, light, and fun brings me a dollop of joy that has nothing to do with having two fresh loaves of bread.

“Look, I made this, isn’t it beautiful?” makes everything else a little better.

Speaking of which, happy Generosity Day.


When we sit down, first thing in the week or first thing in the morning, to our desk, what do we do?

At this precious moment when the sun is still low in the sky and our mind is clearest, how do we choose to act?

Because so many of us are working remotely, we aren’t starting our days pushing through the stress and distraction of our morning commutes. There’s no need to fight our way through traffic, people and transit systems to finally land at our desks.

What an opportunity, then, to take advantage of the calm of the morning.

What a chance to quiet the chatter, to pull back our aperture and think bigger…

…about what this week would look like if it were really successful (planning).

…about what we could look like in one month or three if we really invested in our own professional development (self-reflection).

…about a piece of work that we’ve been stuck on, and a new way to approach it (problem-solving).

…about the direction of travel of our organization, and whether it needs a tweak or an overhaul (strategy).

A quiet morning is a terrible thing to waste with cleaning out our inboxes and “just checking” our social media feeds.

This is our most productive time, and its ours to do with as we choose.

One thing, many things


I was recently talking to a banker I know who shared that he occasionally works from home, but it can be frustrating because, due to security concerns, he is not allowed to print any documents when he’s not in the office.

Huh?  Not allowed to PRINT?  This is the more aggressive, more absurd version of companies that screen / limit Web access at work (because, you know, it’s not like people can get online with their smartphones), in the hopes that troves of people won’t fritter away hours on facebook or reading (gasp!) blogs full of idle chatter.

At the other end of the spectrum, all of the most interesting, successful people I know have multi-faceted lives that pull them in all directions.  They run companies and serve on multiple Boards and convene interesting groups of their peers.  They write books or blogs – sometimes directly about what they do and sometimes, apparently, only tangentially related.  They thrive in ambiguous situations that blur the line between work and social and fun.

I know that real constraints exist in the world, that big companies are victim to frivolous lawsuits, that running a 100,000 person company isn’t the same thing as running a 100 person shop.

So fine, let’s operate within these constraints.

But as a boss (or as someone who has a boss), you have a choice to make.  One worldview says it’s your job to control and narrow as much as possible, to monitor and restrict and keep track of shirkers, so that you’re sure that that your staff spends as much time as possible doing “their work” (whatever that means to you).  This is a great approach if you believe that your staff is comprised of glorified, white-collar widget producers, if you believe that you’re putting $X in to pay their salary and that success is getting as many of your employees as possible to produce 1.5X in terms of output.

Man, it’s exhausting just writing that.

Treat people like shirkers and they’ll want to shirk more.  Treat their time like a finite resource that you have to grab as much of as possible and you’ll get the least allowable effort and no inspiration.

What you should really worry about is employees who don’t get great new ideas from the outside; employees who don’t come in rabid and crazy with something they just read on a blog; employees who don’t make random, interesting connections that bring surprising, wonderful people into the fold.

You certainly can’t manufacture creativity and inspiration, but you definitely can wipe it out.