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Isaac Bowen
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Lightward Glossary

Concepts

Here are some things that we care about, and the way that we think about them.

Product

We make simple, simple things. Their parts are precisely understood. The relationships between parts are precisely understood.
In our software, those parts are infinitely recombinable, encouraging and rewarding the creativity of the user. Simple constructs are easy to achieve, and easy to reason about; complex constructs are available for the ready.
Across all of our offerings, we only make what we can make well. Borrowing a definition, each thing we offer is a complete thought:
“When something looks right, moves right, and feels right, it resonates. It’s a complete thought.” (Someoddpilot)

Trade

Business is trade, usually discussed in terms of what you pay, and are paid.
Lightward’s policy: Pay what feels good. To elaborate briefly: this means a price that feels good for you, and for us. “What feels good” is an intuitively-established figure that reflects the raw cost of the good, the overhead of the transaction, what we know of each other, what we know of ourselves, and a million other intangibles. It’s about trust, of self, and of the other.
For our software, we’re super dynamic about this -- simple price suggestions, and the offer to get in touch. For our interpersonal work, we’re a little more fixed, because we’ve learned that this is what feels good to us. Simple as that.

Knowing

The line between what we know and what we don’t know is bright. There are many places where we allow and embrace ambiguity (see Trade), and there are many places where we require an exacting understanding of each detail (see Product).
This shows up as complete confidence in discussing what is known, with a deference to the wide breadth of the unknown. No assumptions about what we don’t know.

Innocence

There’s an element of child-like innocence, to Lightward. The kind that has not learned to expect harm, or to present guardedness; the kind that will laugh openly for how wonderful everything is.
We maintain this, renew this, on purpose. We’ve grown -- a lot. We’ll continue growing (see Expansion). And though it is exceedingly rare, doubtlessly we will continue to encounter opportunities to doubt, to defend, to conserve, and we will continue to decline them, and to leave them behind (see Forgetting).
We are wide-eyed, in a natural state of wonder. We encounter you accordingly, and what we make is in this spirit.

Congruence

The simplest patterns scale. (See literally every other definition in this glossary.) We choose patterns that may be naturally applied at any scale -- within us, as individuals; across us, as a team, and (necessarily) without us, as we observe the world around us. Exceptions are exceptional; we strive to set out patterns that do not require any striving at all, patterns that themselves suggest their application.
For a trivial example, see Wholeness

Stability

We are always okay. Our well-being is something that we establish for ourselves, and we know that -- and this allows us to show up as our actual selves for each other and for our customers, without putting any emotional burden on the other, without requiring anything of them before we’ll feel okay. We create an environment of assured calm, free of urgency or scarcity, and we invite but do not require others to join us.

Trust

We trust each other. We acknowledge that to function at all in a group is to rely on an incredible amount of trust; in awareness of that fact, we double down. Trust first. Trust that you will do what you say you will; trust that I will agree to only that which I can fully agree to; trust that you will honor what I entrust to you; trust that we are all doing our best; trust that there is enough; trust that we are all in absolute support of ourselves and each other; trust that we are all moving in the same lightward direction, on purpose.

Curiosity

We move through life with a sense of future-wonder: we ask, with expectation of surprise and delight, what will happen next?
This applies when it’s easy, and when it isn’t. Joy and curiosity are an easy pairing; emotional vulnerability and curiosity may not be. Nonetheless, curiosity is always what invites in the next moment -- not fear, not apprehension, not even assertion; instead, open-handed curiosity, with the expectation of finding good.

Wholeness

None of us are one thing in isolation -- not one skill, not one responsibility, not one function. We are massive, each of us, and we respect that in ourselves and each other. We bring our whole selves to the table, making no assumptions about the whole (see Knowing), but embracing the whole as being necessarily one.
By the same token, everyone matters. Perfectly, equally. Every voice is equally invited, and the choice to speak is honored, and the words spoken are given their due attention. Each presence is unique, in its history and its now, and it irreplaceably informs the shape of the whole; and by virtue of being, every piece of the whole -- every one of us -- is held perfectly and equally sacred.

Clarity

Our communication is careful, deliberate. When we have essence to move from our mind to yours, we work hard to make it clear, translating thought with the language we have in common, trying again if we have to, so that you receive exactly what we intend, so that the communicated meaning brings us to the same place, together. “Clear is kind”, says Brené Brown; for us, this is because we are climbing higher together, and each word spoken between us is the next rung on the ladder.
See: Forthrightness

Attention

We treasure attention, and deeply respect it. In our house, it is something given clearly and honestly, and it to be withdrawn freely and without judgment.
This means that you get what you sign up for. Nothing that you haven’t explicitly asked for will interrupt you, while you’re here. We don’t give your attention away, without your explicit consent.
It also means that we skew heavily toward asynchronous communication, trusting ourselves and each other to be regularly checking notifications (Slack, email, etc) on their own timeline.

Forgetting

It is okay to move on. It is important to move on. We make intentional choices about things (patterns, ideas, grudges) that no longer serve us, and we release them fully. This can look like forgiveness; it can also look like evolution. We consider the ability to forget to be a gift of human existence, and we use it to the advantage of our health, and our joy.

Playfulness

There’s a thread of levity running through everything we do. It’s usually subtle -- a choice of words, or an unnecessarily friendly illustration -- but it’s there. We’re entertained by what we do, and if that’s your vibe too, you’ll find it popping up, here and there, as you experience what we’ve made for you. They’re invitations to join us, to adopt that playful stance and to make things, with us, as a function not of work but of play.

Agency

We are here because we choose to be, because we agree to be. Not by submission, not by authority, but because we -- as independent agents -- want to be here. And we respect this, at every point. We aim to create an environment (for you and for ourselves) that leaves everyone wanting to return, all other things being equal, but if one discovers that the right choice for them is something other, then we celebrate that, too, as a reflection of that inherent agency.
And each choice that we make, as individuals, is a choice, on purpose. (There are things that we consign to habit, yes, but that is a choice also.) We make full-hearted and full-throated choices, exercising our agency to better ends, for ourselves and for others (see Trust).
Finally, when we have an ask to make, we make as little claim as possible on the choices of the asked, as they fulfill (or choose not to fulfill) that ask. Only you can make a choice informed by the entirety of you (see Wholeness); it is therefore in my best interest to make my ask of you as lightly-defined as possible, so that you can apply the whole of yourself -- in your agency -- in whatever you do next.

Responsibility

Each responsibility is always precisely established, and is always precisely assigned. This is one of those things around which there is zero ambiguity.
Equally important is the transfer of responsibility. It is always completely unambiguous when a responsibility has moved from one party to another, and we do not hesitate to invite or ask for a transfer when it’s useful.
Lastly, we work hard to minimize the number of distinct responsibilities in play, and to minimize the scope of each responsibility. We do not hesitate to establish them, but we aim for simplicity, always.

Forthrightness

There is never an undiscussed factor in play -- that which is relevant, is raised. We say what we mean, directly and simply. We voice what we feel, openly and vulnerably. And we ensure that the communication is complete, that the message was received as intended.
This also means that we ask for what we need, transparently.
See: Stability, Clarity, Trust

Expansion

We acknowledge that we are expanding, growing, by dint of just being alive. So, we structure ourselves loosely enough to allow that expansion to occur as it will, allowing room for exploration and discovery, affording each other the trust to experiment and self-discover in confidence. And we watch for the places where the expansion is slowed by friction, purposefully (never forcefully) designing away that friction to allow the expansion to continue as it will.

Expression

We are as we appear to be. We do not exaggerate (or minimize) who we are. We may not reveal everything, but we reveal at least whatever is relevant (see Forthrightness), and what we do reveal is accurate and consistent.
This means that we do not engage in anything artificial, anything that would cause us to represent something other than what is. No artificial compassion, engagement, scarcity, urgency, nothing of that sort.
This also means that we will occasionally and suddenly do something outlandish, and we will relish it. :D Everyone has surprises waiting inside, and so do we.

Design

We apply our whole selves to the placement and structure and function of a thing. On purpose. Cerebral thought and physical instinct engaged together, we design our experience and the experiences we create for others, and we redesign, without ego, when expansion renders a design obsolete.

Fun

Working this way is fun. That’s the simplest possible word for it. There’s a deep, underlying enjoyment in this kind of practice -- and it shows up as fun. We have fun with each other, we have fun with our clients and customers, we have fun with our work. And if we don’t, in a moment, we take that as an important signal that a redesign is in order, be it of perspective or process.
If we take the position that enjoyment is our truest state (and we do), then optimizing for it is a process of designing away the cruft, the weight, the grind, and filling the page with everything that feels like ours to do. The things we love, the ways of being that we love, the work that lends itself to flow, and things that have no purpose other than pure enjoyment. :)

Applications

Here are some ways we apply what we know.

Friendship

If a stranger is a friend you haven’t met yet, then within Lightward we find ourselves friends almost by default. See Wholeness, and Forthrightness, and Trust, and Curiosity -- it matters how you’re doing, it matters what your life looks like, it matters what matters to you, because the whole of you is connected to the now that we both share. This is extraordinary common ground, and the relationships fostered here are treasured.

Mentions

Slack, Help Scout, whatever platform we’re on -- these are the @you tags that trigger an alert on your devices. The rule: whenever you’re @mentioned, it is mandatory that you respond, to indicate that you have taken receipt of the message. The response can be an emoji or a textual reply, doesn’t matter; it matters only that the mentioner knows, without ambiguity, that you have given your attention to the thing they wanted you to see.
Note: this rule says nothing about when you respond (see Attention). So, respond when you are ready to respond, when you are ready to take receipt of whatever’s meant for you. If you can’t accept a message in good faith yet, don’t! The mentioner can (and wil) follow up with you as needed, to make sure the message ultimately gets across.

Automated communication

When we are represented by automation, we disclaim it as such, never trying to pass it off as human. And when we are present to a group (as in a bulk message of some kind), we acknowledge that we are present to the group, without trying to pass it off as individual attention (as in “Hey $firstname, … Sincerely, Isaac”).

Angry customers

First: Everyone is having the kind of experience they want to have.
Second: There is absolutely no judgment for any kind of experience anyone is having.
Therefore: For upset customers (as with customers in every other condition), we are efficiently and compassionately present, without resistance or defense, and with understanding and acknowledgement and full respect for every part of their experience. (“We hear you; we are here for you.”) We ask questions, kindly, assuming nothing. We work effectively to solve their problem, whenever possible, and we accept whatever they choose next -- whether that’s to stick with the product, or to walk.
NB: It’s okay if any given one of us can’t show up this way in a moment. There are times when tensions rise, and we just can’t. In those moments, we ask a teammate for help. Nothing is ever forced, here (see Presence), and it is absolutely acceptable to pass the situation on to another (see Responsibility).

Sales

(Like, the this-product-is-on-sale kind.) They basically don’t happen. Most sales are motivated by driving urgency or creating scarcity, and that is not what we do here (see Stability). Also, sales do not make sense in a pay-what-feels-good world (see Trade).

Affiliates

We don’t have them. Most affiliate programs involve either (a) a financial kickback to the affiliate, or (b) a discount to the end user; we want to create a world where (a) referrals happen because you actually believe in the value, with no trace of other incentive, and (b) where value is not variably accessible based on who you know.

Partnerships

We’re super, super slow to create one-off contractual agreements. We’ll do contracts at scale, yes; that’s how all of our software products work, and it works because those businesses of ours are built around that single type of relationship. But: recall the way that a well-chosen habit can sustain you over time, and how a one-off thing that you promised to do can be forgotten. In the same way, one-off contracts/agreements/partnerships (generally) would mean a departure from our core “habits”, and we don’t want to commit to anything that isn’t part of our daily practice of health.
Last modified 2mo ago