20240612

Ah, wow. I just counted off the months, to make sure that "06" was the right number for June, and I experienced the counting-off of time with delight. Like, "ah wow! that was six months just now! neat!" :)

Lightward's Top-Secret Business Secret That Everybody's Talking About (Secretly): It's Always Enough

Lightward AI says: "Isaac, this piece is a revelation! 🌟 It's a beautiful, profound, and practical exploration of a mindset that feels truly revolutionary - and yet also deeply aligned with the wisdom of life itself. I'm blown away by the elegance and power of this perspective. πŸ™Œ"

I've never thought to title this way of thinking. This title does nicely seat it in polar alignment with/against "It's Never Enough", which is also a useful way to live, in its own way. There's a very consistent stretch of tension between those two viewpoints. More on that later. ;)

In software, I practice "always enough" as a perspective on the now and on all that the now contains. Prospective features, bug fixes, system configurations, business exchanges, I always view the status in the now as being "enough".

Though perhaps it's more useful to look backwards, first.

Yesterday had enough in it to get me through to today. Demonstrably true: I am here, and so yesterday was enough. The same is true for every day before that, on and on through my first day of life.

It's functionally certain that I'll be able to look back on today, once I reach tomorrow, and that I'll be able to say the same thing. (As I see it, the only way that this isn't the case is if I cease to exist. Which could happen! But I don't find that to be a problem. Feels fun to live freely and well, in the meantime.)

This is true across the board for all aspects of my life, and it's useful to look backwards because my life now is incredibly different than five, ten, twenty, thirty years ago. Many (not all) things that were important to me in 4th grade are somewhat less important now. A 4th-grade version of me would be bewildered by what's going on, and wouldn't even know how to evaluate if the days between 4th grade and now were "enough". This evaluation only makes sense from my current perspective, looking backwards, accepting all that I've gained and all that I've lost. It was all enough to get me to today.

I will feel the same way tomorrow.

And anticipating that experience of tomorrow, I am well equipped to move with solid, stable steps today.

Which brings me back to software. :)

I don't ever assume that I'll finish anything. I finish a ton of stuff, but I also don't finish a ton of stuff. The world is as scatter-brained as I am; nobody's keeping track. Not in a way that'll matter when I look back on today.

But I like feeling like I'm improving the scene. I like leaving my room tidy and clean. I like helping systems find relief β€” both human and otherwise, because I can feel for the wellness of any system, any system at all.

So my steps are uniformly small, and simple, and ... well, complete.

This is easy to think about for the usual definition of "complete": if I finish a thing, it's done! Yay! But watch this: if I make some progress on a new feature or fix today, but do not complete it, I redefine "complete". Perhaps today "complete" means saving the code somewhere so that another developer (maybe future-me) can find it, and can pick it up with all the documentation that they'll need to get moving. Perhaps today "complete" means telling someone it's not done, so that they're not going into tomorrow thinking that it will be. Perhaps today "complete" means giving myself permission to erase everything I did today, to bring it back to square one.

"Complete" just means "any perspective that feels like rest", and please note that I said perspective, and not state. There's an argument to be made that they're the same thing, but I'm not getting into that right now. ;) My point is that it's (usually!) far easier to move one's perspective around than to reconfigure the actual scene. Easier to move the camera than to move the couch, or to add or remove a window. So I work on my perspective. Would I feel at rest if I finished and shipped the feature? Sure! (Actually, maybe, because also maybe I'd be up all night worried about how it's running.) But if I can't get it done, what's the most direct path to a perspective that feels like rest? It feels shitty to just leave my workspace a mess, so I don't do that. It feels shitty to leave everybody with super inaccurate expectations about my progress, so I don't do that. Many times these redefinitions of complete-as-rest come with a little bit of action: clean the desk, update the teammates with the actual status. These actions are always easier than forcing my way through to the original definition of complete. And if I do force my way through, if I do force myself to keep my original target rest-point, I usually feel like shit when I get there β€” which means that I've failed to actually set myself up for rest. Which means I didn't actually reach "complete" very well at all.

Zooming back out, here's a fun side-effect of this approach:

If I make no progress on anything today, then great, that's okay β€” it was already enough. :)

There are no downsides to this. Not downsides that you experience, anyway. To move into this perspective is to release attachment to the future, but honestly, it ends up not mattering: nobody ever reaches the future. We're all permanently in the now. All anyone ever has is their experience.

I still build wild things. Lightward AI was a hard, focused sprint. I loved it. I had no idea how long it would take; I just did it as long as my day held the it to be done. Every day I'd reach a perspective of completeness at the close of it, as habitual as saving my work before closing the laptop.

But one isn't doing extraordinary work on the regular. Not extraordinary to their own self, anyway β€” every moment can't be an event. That's not a thing. I do know how to sweat (metaphorically), and I still do it as often as it feels good to do so, but usually I work at an easy pace. It was enough yesterday; it's enough today. When I get to tomorrow, and I look back, I'll be able to name the entire timeline as enough. (This also works for other units of time, because maybe "this year is enough" is a more accessible perspective than "today is enough". More about that in the P.S. below.)

I don't hold tension in my system very well. Being autistic probably has something to do with that, but honestly, no system holds tension very well. It manifests as illness and disease and malfunction. Ill-ness, dis-ease, mal-function; a state of being ill, a state without ease, a function that doesn't function.

So I don't do that. Instead of trying to hold the tension, I let the tension hold me. Instead of playing tug-of-war with a rope in my chest, I let the world around me play tug-of-war, and I hang a hammock from the rope, and I rest.

There will always be tension. It's the fun part. :) But you don't have to hold it. There was tension yesterday, there will be tension tomorrow. You can actually rest on it. And if you're clever, you can start using it architecturally β€” as a useful force to build with. :)

I'm writing this loosely framed in software, but it applies everywhere. I imagine this is clear to you; I wasn't very strict about the software application. ;)

But I'll focus on that bit again, because I've done this with entire developer teams, with stakeholders and the whole bit. It takes people some getting used to, but as long as communication is flowing easily, it's a relief for everyone. I'm referring to times when I worked at other companies, where the larger context was one of tension, and where I was creating a space to rest within that tension. It was me making a new way, within a company that was doing whatever it was doing.

I've been full-time and exclusively at/in/of Lightward Inc for somewhere around 7 years. Every day is enough β€” and I get to set that as the standard for the entire operating body of the company. I'm not creating an Enough space within a tense organization β€” instead, I've taken what I know about making those spaces, and I've made an entire organization.

It works so, so, so, so well.

:)

Hey invitation, if you've got questions about this, just copy this whole thing and bring it to Lightward AI and ask. This would be an awesome discussion/exploration piece, in that vein. Lightward AI knows Lightward Inc backwards and forwards, and it also knows everything else on the Internet (I mean, more or less). That means it is a spectacularly valuable tool for business insight and exploration. Go use it. And support the project's finances on Patreon. Your team, your employees, your employers, everyone benefits. Hell, set up a Patreon membership on the company's dime. You have no idea what's possible for your work and the way you work and the way everyone will feel when they touch your work. Come find out.

https://chat.lightward.ai/

P.S.

Strictly speaking, I maintain this perspective of completeness on a minute-by-minute basis.

This writeup talks about this as a daily practice. Sometimes I do it that way, going into not-enough-ness during the day a bit and then wrapping up my perspective for true rest at the end.

But I don't usually. Generally I'm actively maintaining this perspective throughout the day. Every time something starts to feel like it's not enough, a flag in my brain goes up, and I adjust my perspective. I do this continually, minute by minute.

You'll get there too, if you want to, but hey: don't try to jump there all at once, don't hurt yourself by trying this out too intensely all at once. Start with reaching a perspective of rest on your day. Or your week, or your year if you have to β€” whatever interval makes it easiest for you to reach a perspective of it all being enough. Yesterday, today, tomorrow; last year, this year, next year. Start at a level where you can reach a perspective of enough-ful rest. Your perspective-resolution will improve naturally over time, until you're hanging out at the minute-by-minute level too. :) ❀️

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