This is the Too Many Trees newsletter, where I share what I’ve been writing and reading in the realm of leadership and personal development. My executive coaching practice is centered around the idea that we are more effective in moving towards our goals when we become more conscious and intentional in focusing our time and attention, and learn how our unconscious patterns are holding us back. If you know somebody that could benefit from my perspective, please forward this to them or let them know they can set up a free intro chat with me.
While I have loved the convenience of Substack for publishing these newsletters, the recent Nilay Patel interview of Substack CEO Chris Best convinced me it was time to stop using the platform. Freedom of speech is great, but if a platform tolerates actively racist and transphobic and discriminatory speech without consequences, then the platform will be overrun by such content (as has happened to Twitter). I don't want to be associated with a platform like that when it happens (a conclusion others have reached before me).

A friend suggested Mailpoet, a Wordpress plugin, since my blog is a Wordpress site, so I have taken the liberty of moving subscribers over to that platform. Mailpoet seems great, open source and easy to use once I invested the time to get it set up. But if you no longer want to receive this newsletter as a result, there is an unsubscribe link at the bottom.

Please let me know if anything doesn't look good or if I missed anything in the migration. This is an experiment for this newsletter, and your feedback is critical as I decide whether to keep using Mailpoet or try something else.
And now for the normal personal development content…
  • Organizational Cognition Revisited: I recently read about a Statistical Process Control theory principle that "Management is prediction", and a reference to Jeff Hawkins's book A Thousand Brains, where he lays out the cognitive theory that "thinking is prediction". I connected these two ideas and explored the possibility that management is organizational cognition, which connected to way too many other things in my head, so it ended up being a 2200 word post with heavy hyperlinking. Or you can just skip to the actionable takeaways.
  • If you see something, say something. This started as a LinkedIn post, which I then published to the blog because it explains why I responded to blog comments I would normally ignore. When confronted with an uncomfortable situation, we often stay silent because we don’t know what to say in the moment, or we don’t want to get involved. But silence is implicit acceptance, so learning to speak up is not just about addressing the person but other people watching.
LinkedIn: These are ideas that have helped my clients (or myself), and that I share via LinkedIn to help a wider audience.
  • The tension between vision and process. David Epstein's interview with Jeff Eggers on leadership in context was interesting to me, particularly the tension between the inspiring visionary and the institutional process manager necessary to bring that vision into sustainable reality. I also observed that certain people (mostly white men like Mark Zuckerberg or Patrick Collison) are given the freedom to be unrealistically visionary, while most others are told to be realistic (e.g. their COOs, Sheryl Sandberg and Claire Johnson).
  • I take organizations from here to there. Framing your strengths in this way in a job search will help you filter the types of organizations that you can most benefit (those that want to take that journey). It will also help you tell your story in a compelling way to potential hiring managers, because it's action and impact oriented.
  • Offer a choice. One of my friends gave me this advice for parenting toddlers. Ask "Do you want the red shirt or the green shirt?" and let the toddler choose. If you tell them "you're wearing the red shirt", it can quickly become a power struggle. Unsurprisingly, the same tactic works for adults, because most adults want control and choices too!
  • Make yourself dispensable. Many of us in the early part of our careers seek to make ourselves indispensable so that we will be safe. But being indispensable comes at a cost. To grow your impact, the secret is letting go of what you're already doing, so that you have the capacity and attention to tackle something bigger and new.
Since the blog posts are intellectual, I'll use the recommendations section to highlight some fun stuff:
  • The Space Between Worlds, by Micaiah Johnson. I really enjoyed this novel that had an interesting and thoughtful multiverse angle, and that played out in a satisfying way. I don't want to say much more than that to avoid spoiling the twists, but I recommend this as well-done character-based science fiction.
  • I finally watched John Wick 4. The franchise has gotten steadily more ridiculous and contrived, and yet I really enjoyed seeing the spectacle of these over-the-top action scenes in the theater with an immersive screen and sound. I also recommend the poem John Wick Is So Tired and the commentary by the poet Kyra Wilder.
  • And this poem by William J. Harris has been resonating with me the last couple weeks as I have struggled with productivity:
Why did it
take all
to get nothing

Why, I could
have started
at noon
& saved a lot
of time

Thanks for reading! See you in a couple weeks!
Selfie from a recent trail run in the hills.
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