I think there’s a big misconception about burnout in today’s society. We assume that burn out is just when you do too much work. If you work 70h a week or something like that you’ll burnout.

I don’t think that’s the case. We already know what motivates people. Yet seem unaware that burnout is the opposite of this. Managers often are trying to “shield” employees and making decisions that are “for their own good” but creates the opposite result. Really what drives people to burnout is:

  • The lack of self-direction (Autonomy)
  • The inability to impact necessary change when it’s needed (Purpose)
  • The inability to grow in the direction we want (Mastery).

In the past, I’ve let folks work on things I thought were a waste a time. Not because I didn’t think they could use their time better but rather because not letting them would reduce their output to lower than it currently was. Even if they now spend 20% of their time on something I disagree with, the other 80% will be much more productive because of it and, in the end, that will help the team.

Now you may say, well I really don’t want that person to work on that. Or I really don’t think that’s a good idea. That means you don’t share the same vision as your employee and the only real solution is to let them go.

In the knowledge economy there are 2 things you should do with employees:

  • Empower them
  • Fire them

You should only ever do those 2 things. All the other ways out of the problem just postpone or create a worse problem in the future. As much as letting someone go is tough, most organizations I’ve been a part of should have done it more often rather than less often.


I re-read a post from Wait But Why called “Religion for the Nonreligious”. I find it somewhat poorly named as I don’t feel it has much to do with religion. It’s a great post about Wisdom, consciousness and it’s title would probably have the word mindfulness in it if it was published today. What struck me is how similar the post is to discussions about life / the meaning of life from the Dalai Lama, the Leadership and self deception book, Ken Wilber, and a whole range of modern pseudo philosophical / spiritual books.

For most of these, we’ll read it, agree, and then a few days later it’ll be out of sight out of mind. What’s interesting about this post is he mentions that. How it’s a struggle to stay “aware” of our consciousness and that we keep making good decisions and not get dragged down into negative impulses.

It’s a very similar thought to my post on setting the conditions for things to come naturally and I guess it’s been on my mind a lot as I try to be more compassionate and to stick to it and not have knee-jerk reactions to things. It’s interesting because one thing I worry about is that people reading this will be like, “Wow Steph talks a lot about wisdom and compassion and all that, but he sucks at it, he always has oversized reactions and throws out blunt opinions when he’s frustrated”. This came to mind recently because a friend of mine had a boss who kept writing Facebook posts about management and leadership and all that. And she was like: “he’s a horrible boss”. I want to believe the reason he posted about it was because he was aware of that. Or at least, had a nagging suspicion that he could improve his management abilities and not that he thought he already knew the answers or rather that he “knew” the answers, but the implementation wasn’t there yet.

The interesting part is just a few days ago I wrote about self sabotage and the answer was to make small steps each day. Isn’t it the same answer as the question here? That yes we might forget things, but we should keep striving one day at a time? I guess that’s if we keep remembering things. Kinda like remembering Sammy Jankis….


On (self) Sabotage

(This post was originally written in early 2017 and just sat as a draft until this week)

Here is the theme song to this post:

I think the core of self sabotage comes from fear. This fear is mostly from our reptilian brain. Seth Godin talks about this here:


(This also applies to Shipping Software which I haven’t blogged about yet but I should warn people reading this that I will probably be talking more and more about code and code related things)

Now I have a lot of friends who “know” who they are. Therefore, if they know who they are, they don’t need to change how they act in certain situations. Or more precisely they use this as an excuse for why they can’t or won’t do something different than what they’ve done in the past. For example, someone who has trouble committing, well they shouldn’t go on that second date with that guy because it was way too strong a connection and in the past that’s just been too hard.

Now often time people are aware that they are doing this. But they don’t think they can change. Or more to the the point, they are scared of the change. Because this would be different. This would mean they are a different person than their current self image. Even if you want this and you say you want this. It’s scary because you don’t know what this new you could be. Who is someone who commits to relationships?  Who is someone who opens themselves up to others? Who is someone who ships software? Usually the answer is that its definitely not the current self.

Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is freedom. ~Mary Ferguson

I relate it somewhat to how you feel when you are in a state of depression. Often there is this feeling that you belong “here” there is this comfort in the feeling you have. A feeling of belonging, that you “deserve” this, that this is the true you.

Of course it’s all BS, and as soon as you climb a little bit out you can see it for what it is. But boy is it fun at times to think we are a twisted soul. I suspect this is why some of the things such as the law of attraction and visualization and etc work so well for some people. It’s because it helps them break out of this thinking of this is who I am. It gives them a reason or an excuse or rather a way to convince themselves that they can change.

Really we are nothing more than the sum of our actions. If I want to be a coder, I am one if I do code, that means that small decisions every day count. I’m currently trying to get in better shape. I can easily say “I’m not someone who exercises and eats well”, well bullshit because every few hours I need to make a decision and I’m deciding that I’m someone who eats pretty well and every few days I decide I’m someone who does an exercise video or go to kick boxing. or what have you. If you want to be someone who has loving relationships with trust, you just have to do it one step at a time. If you want to be in shape you have to do it one step at a time. If you want to be someone who, well you get the idea.

Thinking will not overcome fear but action will. ~W. Clement Stone

So let’s go and make whatever today’s step is on to road to accomplishing whatever it is we want to accomplish 🙂

On “6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person”

This is about this article: http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-harsh-truths-that-will-make-you-better-person/

More specifically this statement: “The World Only Cares About What It Can Get from You”

This type of utilitarian thinking seems to be more and more prevelant. In this case the author argues that since we need things, the only reason others exist is for us to get things from them.  

It can be tempting to say that we work in a deterministic fashion like such. It would in a sense simplify human behaviour. It would make the understanding of human behaviour relatively simple, you could always look and have a clear answer to why someone did something. But let’s assume like this article does that we are in a Western society where most of the time the basic needs are met. I believe the article takes this for granted, because what he goes on to describe that what we are really looking for is happiness and for him, we will receive this from others via love or admiration via our accomplishments (mostly our career).

But I think research has shown that this isn’t true. A General theory of Love is a very good book on the subject that helped me accept that we all needed others and that we couldn’t live as independent individuals, but needed others to “love” and not just in the traditional sense of romantic love but in the friendship sense of love. This as opposed to needing others in the purely utilitarian sense, such as to fix my car.

You can find it here: http://www.amazon.ca/General-Theory-Love-Thomas-Lewis/dp/0375709223

It talks a lot about the 3 sections of the brain. Here is a primer:

The reptilian brain, the oldest of the three, controls the body’s vital functions such as heart rate, breathing, body temperature and balance. Our reptilian brain includes the main structures found in a reptile’s brain: the brainstem and the cerebellum. The reptilian brain is reliable but tends to be somewhat rigid and compulsive. The limbic brain emerged in the first mammals. It can record memories of behaviours that produced agreeable and disagreeable experiences, so it is responsible for what are called emotions in human beings. The main structures of the limbic brain are the hippocampus, the amygdala, and the hypothalamus. The limbic brain is the seat of the value judgments that we make, often unconsciously, that exert such a strong influence on our behaviour. The neocortex first assumed importance in primates and culminated in the human brain with its two large cerebral hemispheres that play such a dominant role. These hemispheres have been responsible for the development of human language, abstract thought, imagination, and consciousness. The neocortex is flexible and has almost infinite learning abilities. The neocortex is also what has enabled human cultures to develop.

And here are a few key quotes:

“Our society’s love affair with mechanical devices that respond at a button-touch ill prepares us to deal with the unruly organic mind that dwells within. Anything that does not comply must be broken or poorly designed, people now suppose, including their hearts.”

“A person cannot direct his emotional life in the way he bids his motor system to reach for a cup. He cannot will himself to want the right thing or to love the right person or to be happy after a disappointment, or even to be happy in happy times. People lack this capacity not through a deficiency of discipline but because the jurisdiction of will is limited to the latest brain and to those functions within its purview. Emotional life can be influenced, but it cannot be commanded.” 

“Even after a peak parenting experience, children never transition to a fully self-tuning physiology. Adults remain social animals: they continue to require a source of stabilization outside themselves. That open-loop design means that in some important ways, people cannot be stable on their own – not should or shouldn’t be, but can’t be. This prospect is disconcerting to many, especially in a society that prizes individuality as ours does. Total self-sufficiency turns out to be a daydream whose bubble is burst by the sharp edge of the limbic brain. Stability means finding people who regulate you well and staying near them.”

Now let’s add another thing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHv6vTKD6lg

In this video, people who expressed gratitude to others, who thanked them for all the wonderful things they did for them, became happier themselves.

Now at this point some readers may ask “What is the difference between using people for your own means to sell real estate to derive your happiness versus using them to limbically stabilize you or to show gratitude onto them. Are you not still in some way using them?”

I Would argue that the overall level of happiness in the world is better in one of those scenarios. I don’t think we can equate things such as Alex Baldwin’s speech about how he needs you to sell real estate to sharing a moment cuddling with a friend where you are both just relaxed and at peace with the world. Those things aren’t the same.

Some of the other points in the article are worth while especially things inside #1. But I think the article doesn’t take into account the complex symbiotic relationships we have with each other. We do not just want things, we also want to be wanted. The world doesn’t only care about what it can get from you. It also cares what it can give to you.