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Friday Refill: Your Baseline Determines Your Leverage

Published 5/28/2021

In today's episode, we talk about how your baseline perceptions and assumptions are the building blocks of your leverage.

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The way we work has changed forever. In each episode of Remote Works, Host Melanie Green, tells an insightful story about how people and companies are adapting.

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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Happy Friday everybody! My name is Jonathan Cutrell, you're listening to another refill episode, Friday refill episode of Fella Pertite. On this show, we talk about a lot of topics. One of the topics we talked about recently was leverage and the importance of leverage. Now what do we mean when we say leverage? So leverage is in the classical sense it's considered the multiplication of effort. The specific kind of scientific definition of a lever is a rigid bar resting on a pivot used to help move a heavy or firmly fixed load with one end when a pressure is applied to the other. Now usually try to avoid this kind of opening with the definition of a given thing but I think this metaphor is strong enough for us to revisit for a moment and talk a little bit about leverage and talk about this idea of high versus low leverage but also I want to talk about the direction of that leverage or perhaps the metaphor is the point that pivot point where exactly is that located relative to the effort that you're putting forth. So I want to get out of this metaphor land for a second. We want leverage because we want to do the most with the least. We want to put forth effort that then goes on to accomplish things that we care about accomplishing in the most efficient manner possible so that we can get more done. That's the basic idea. It's not a productivity hack that's not what we're talking about here. What we're talking about is focusing on the things that have the highest impact. Impact is very often in this kind of setting is used interchangeably with leverage. So you're probably wondering how can I find these high leverage efforts, these high leverage tasks for example. What can I do to set myself up to find those more readily? In this episode I want to talk about the perhaps the most important kind of bedrock foundational idea for finding leverage. This is hopefully not surprising to you but the most important foundational idea in finding leverage is understanding your baseline. Understanding your baseline. What goes into a baseline? A baseline includes your assumptions. It includes your perception, your perspective, and includes your kind of education maybe. It includes what you believe about the world. All of this baseline material is the lens that you approach the world with. And if you approach the world with a particular lens that baseline is going to carry through to all of your actions. The way that you assume, right, the way that you imagine the world to be or the way that you perceive is going to matter. It's how you make value decisions. It's how you understand your constraints. In many ways this baseline is kind of our operating system. We evaluate everything through at a fundamental level, everything through or based on our baseline. So I want to talk a little bit more about our baseline and how we can focus on battering, improving, tweaking, adjusting, experimenting with our baseline. But first, we're going to do something a little bit unconventional for Reef Hill Fridays. On Monday we had a little bit of a glitch with the audio editing process. For whatever reason logic decided to cut out, perhaps the most important part of the episode. That is the ad read. So remote works was our sponsor on Monday. And we're doing a make up here to talk about remote works because remote works has a new season out. It's no surprise the way that we work together has changed forever. And in each episode of remote works, host Melanie Green tells an insightful story about how people and companies are adapting. I recently listened to the episode about your personal workspace, your desk. If you've ever felt self conscious about your desk, maybe you're standing at your desk right now, you're looking around and you see like I have a little bit of trash on my desk. I have some books that I've both read and some that I'm waiting to read. All of this says something about my personality. And all of this is very important to me. I beg your desk is important to you too. And there's no wrong way to keep your desk. And this episode of remote works actually dives into this personal workspace. And you know what, those different kinds of you, there is a kind of workspace that matches you best. I found this episode really insightful. In the last season, remote works covered this idea of burnout, preventing burnout. A lot of us have experiences. In fact, recent study found that 75% of workers have experienced burnout and 40% said it was a direct result of the pandemic. But it's easy to not understand or perceive those impending burnout, those signs of the impending burnout. So we hear firsthand in this episode from from last season from someone who has been through burnout. And we also hear expert advice on how to recognize it and what can be done to prevent it. Again, season three of remote works is out now. You can find it anywhere you listen to podcasts. We will include a link in the show notes. Thank you to remote works for your support. So we're talking about our baseline. This idea that our most common habits and our perception, our assumptions about the world or more localized, our assumptions about a project or a person that these are the most important things to understand in order to build leverage. And why is this? Because you can imagine that the lever in the metaphor earlier is your effort. What you've chosen to push against is an important factor in this process as well. But how you are leveraging the position of the pivot or maybe the direction of the leverage is a different problem entirely. How you are leveraging is your baseline from where do you approach these problems? A lot of the reason for this is because something we mentioned before the ad break that our baseline helps determine our constraints. If we come to the table assuming, let's say a very concrete example, that we have to build a custom product when in all actuality something off the shelf would have suffice for that given problem. Or if we come to the table assuming that whatever has been requested is not negotiable. This is a very common problem, both in individual career circumstances but also in client relationship circumstances on product teams when collaborating with other teams, we very often have to negotiate. Whether it's about a feature or about money, whatever the reason is, if we come to the table assuming that the terms or the requests that are outlined by the other party are non-negotiable, that base is what we're working from. And if we can learn to experiment with the base, that is, imagine changing those terms. Imagine changing those assumptions. If we can learn to move those assumptions such that we have a better pivot point. This changes nothing about the effort. It changes nothing about the goals necessarily, but it changes the pivot point. This means that with the same other variables, all things being equal, if we change our basic understanding, our base level understanding, our perception, our perceived constraints, all of these things that we consider our baseline. If we can change that, we can find better leverage. Another simple example of this, let's imagine that before the pandemic, you were a regular gym goer. You had your routine down, you would go to the gym that was closest to your office. And this was something that you developed a very strong habit with. But of course, when the pandemic hit, like most people, you now work from home and the gym closed. Now your goal is to stay fit, but how can you do that? You're not even going by the gym. Much less, can you go into the gym? Well, if you change your baseline assumption that the gym is necessary for your fitness, right? Hopefully you saw this coming. Then you can pursue that goal from a different baseline. Your leverage point might be to build your own gym in your garage, or maybe you change your baseline to not needing a gym at all. Maybe you start participating in outdoor activities where you go by a bike. There's a lot of options here, but you have to change your baseline before you can tap into those options. So understand that our goal is not to always be questioning the baseline. Like that's not the goal. It is helpful and important to experiment and to iterate on our baseline. Because if we let our baseline stagnate, that is a long term leverage point. It's a long term leverage point on pretty much everything else we do. And so if we're operating from the same assumptions that we were operating from last year, five years, 10 years ago, then our potential is capped. Not because our motivation is capped, not because our energy is capped, not because anything else has happened other than what we're working from our operating system, our leverage baseline is capping us. So here's a very practical thing that you can do. I want you to imagine a goal that you have. Imagine a goal that you have. Hopefully it's a concrete one. The easiest ones to do on the weekend are the personal ones because you don't have to ask anybody else about those goals. You don't have to wait for somebody to clarify it for you. That's your goal. You can understand this system through that lens for a moment. Imagine that goal. Now imagine what pathway are you assuming that you have to take to get there? Right? What pathway do you think is necessary to get to that goal? Finally, I want you to intentionally change some basic assumptions. Okay? This is just a thought experiment. So change some variable that you have assumed was fixed. Change that variable. What variable? Whatever variable it is, it can be a very simple one or it can be a pretty drastic one. But change that variable and then rerun this simulation. Imagine a way to flex whatever that assumed pathway was to a new location. This is how you experiment with your baseline. You start with these thought experiments, but then you start to question those baseline assumptions in reality. What can you change or what can you do differently in reality to better optimally approach those goals to increase your leverage? Thanks for much listening to today's episode. This Friday refill episode of developers. You thank you again to remote works for sponsoring Monday's episode, but also today's episode. Remote works is a podcast that tells extraordinary stories of teams that made the shift to flexible working. It covers a lot of ground. I hope you will go and listen, subscribe and whatever podcasting app you use anywhere you already listen to podcasts. You can find remote works. Thank you to remote works for your support. Thanks so much for listening to this episode. If you want to discuss this episode, maybe you can talk about your baseline assumptions and maybe get some feedback. Ask other people how they see things differently from you. This is another good way to experiment with that baseline is to get other perceptions that are different from your own that are still valid, but they're just different from yours. There's a great place to do this since the Developer Tea discord community. Head over to developertea.com slash discord. Thank you so much for listening, and until next week, enjoy your tea.