Friday Randomness, Vol. 82

A total stranger's list

A fellow long-time REI-er, Jay, and I connected this week. He shared with me his blog. As I scrolled through, I got hooked reading a post about a list he created: 100 Things I’ve Learned Along The Way Since Being Diagnosed With Cancer. I like lists, and his is good. Heck, I wrote one about leadership-ish stuff.

It reminded me of another photo from The Archives… or, the old folder of photos on my server. I wrote about one of those photos a while ago. This randomness is about one of a total stranger’s list.

Years ago, K and I came across a notebook half-buried in the snow when descending from Camp Muir on Mount Rainier. We picked it up and posted it on some social climbers groups to hopefully track down its owner. We never did, so eventually we scrolled through it. That’s when we came across their list. It was someone’s plans for 2011.

What they wrote made me smile, so I took a photo to remember. They were inspiring, selfless, ambitious. Things like ‘smile more,’ ‘pursue a job and market myself.’ Climb some new mountains or, as they wrote, ‘reach new heights.’ Give back. 

Re-reading it now, and Jay’s, makes me think: what’s on my list?

Friday Randomness, Vol. 81

Kim Scott Radical Candor

This week’s random thought has to do with opinions. It’s probably going to be half-baked. The thought, that is.

I’m working on writing my first opinion piece about leadership development. Shoutout to my mom for giving me some good feedback and food for thought. It’s a delicate balance, standing behind an opinion without coming across as it’s ‘my way or the highway.’ My business partner, Greer, put it well: 

I think you can have a powerful opinion without saying your way is best.

For fun, I looked up the definition of the word. The Googles say it’s ‘a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.’ The question on my mind is… are opinions inevitably divisive? For better or for worse. I was hoping that would have showed up in the definition, but alas I’m left to wonder.

I’m in this camp that, for some reason, is naturally inclined to agree with the thought, ‘You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.’ That well-worn expression seems to indicate some amount of divisiveness. After all, having an opinion means taking a stand, and risking possibly pissing someone off (to quote Kim Scott’s Radical Candor idea).

Maybe more importantly, is divisiveness inherently bad? Can it, in fact, be good? I did warn you this may be half-baked… Spoiler: more to come in the weeks ahead.

Friday Randomness, Vol. 80

Climber shakes a ranger's hand on Mt. Rainier

I was talking to my friend Susan last week. During our conversation, she mentioned compliments. It made me remember a while back having come across the HBR weekly newsletter they call Ascend. Aimed at up-and-coming professionals, their approach is decidedly different than the tone and vibe of other HBR channels. And they have an Instagram. Perusing through that, I found their post that highlighted a statistic about compliments:

70% of people associate embarrassment or discomfort with both giving and receiving compliments.

Right!? To this day, I’m one of those seventy percent whose natural inclination is to do everything I can to get the spotlight off me and who sometimes second-guesses the simple act of giving a compliment. At one point now I’d like to think maybe ten years ago, my mom gave me a good piece of advice I haven’t forgotten: ‘Thom, you need to learn to accept a compliment with grace.’

It was at that time I began managing teams and really acknowledged how powerful a compliment could be. About the work someone did, about the way they spoke up and challenged something I said, about how they showed up everyday. 

I still catch myself wanting to compliment someone and doing a double-take. I have no idea why. It of course feels really good. As far as receiving one, I’m still learning how to be better at taking my mom’s advice.

Friday Randomness, Vol. 79

Henryk Gorecki

I’d say 80% of these emails somehow miraculously come about the week I write them. Here’s a little secret: when something strikes me as random, I jot it down to possibly use later. So the other 20%… yep, are from those times I jotted something down. This is one of those occasions. I guess it was a busy, not-very-random-kind-of-week.

It’s going to start with a quote I came across a few months ago that struck me and then quickly digress from there. I hope you enjoy this randomness.

The quote, then…


~ Henryk Górecki

He mentioned it in the NPR interview linked above. I first came across Górecki when watching Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life. A haunting, epic, beautiful movie. In it, Malick uses his Symphony of Sorrowful Songs.

While looking for an image to go with this post, I discovered a version with Beth Gibbons of Portishead singing the final movement. Holy. Cow. The whole piece is slow, also haunting, also epic. The seventeen minutes of her rendition is definitely worth some undivided attention.

That’s a whole lot of random links. Oh, and a quote.