16 Comments
Jun 13Liked by Paul Millerd

Cate Hall’s agency as a skill post inspires me to write my own https://open.substack.com/pub/secondvoyage/p/bite-size-lessons-to-be-more-agentic?utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web

Will give listen to the podcast, thanks Paul!

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Jun 8·edited Jun 8Liked by Paul Millerd

A few thoughts on your Good Work model:

1. I'm not so sure about the visual, to be honest... I'm not sure what it's communicating. My immediate reaction is I see it more as a 3-way spectrum (like a triangle), with Bad/Good Enough/Good at the points. We can place ourselves somewhere in the triangle. And the goal is to progress toward Good. One might have to start Good Enough, but find ways to add Good over time. Or we may wake up and realize we've progressed toward Bad Work and we need to course correct. The correct solution, depending on where you are, will vary. Not sure though.

2. I wonder how much "bad work" or "good enough work", might come closer to "good work" IF we had more control over things like pace, hours, autonomy, team, manager, and customers we serve.

3. In terms of Inner Ambition, I break it out into Interests + Impact. Interests = things I'm naturally drawn to (could be whatever). Impact = how can I be useful to others. Interests without Impact is selfish. Impact without Interest is sacrificing yourself. Income without either is soulless.

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This is good feedback ill play with it!

"if we had more control over things like pace, hours, autonomy, team, manager, and customers we serve." => definitely something i cover more in the book

Generally I don't like "impact", and think its a bad frame for thinking about work, so it isn't really in the mix in my model. I still dont think about it at all only seven years in this path

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On impact… are you sure?

Maybe you don’t like moralizing about a traditional definition of impact, especially scaled impact.

You write (Interest) and share it with others (Impact). You seem to like talking with others and helping them. You have formed Pathless Path into a bit of a movement/philosophy, especially via your community. You do also work to support your family.

How do you separate out these things from impact?

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I mean it’s just not something I think about. I like doing this stuff because it’s fun and it feels good. Not to mention helps me keep thinking about ideas. And sometimes leads to friends. Sure reaching more people might help me make more money but I don’t think about impact. It could end up being negative or neutral for the world. I have no idea.

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Well, it's certainly an interesting perspective...

I'm now curious to hear your full explanation on "Inner Ambition."

Especially since you use the word "contribute," but are against using "impact."

Not sure I see the difference.

But I guess I'll have to read the book!

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i think its really just a language thing

I have no desire to "reach x people" or "have an impact"

I think the only way to do that is to be connected and care about what you do

but I think I just prefer to stay quite skeptical of it personally, especially after working in consulting where so many in the business world aimed at impact and got completely opposite of what they intended.

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I hear you! The "impact" argument (reach, scale) has been weaponized against me, by people who just want me to make money for them.

BUT... you've tackled words like "Work" and "Ambition," noticing how they've been co-opted by the market/society/etc. to mean one particular, narrow thing. Instead of thinking of them in a broader, expansive sense.

That's my position with the word "impact." Instead of not using the word, the word needs to be used differently.

And (back to your model) I've seen too many people with all the money in the world... who fall to pursuing only their selfish interests (e.g. golf all day). This turns out to be just as meaningless and empty of an existence as most corporate jobs.

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Yeah I like that prompt about the different time keeping methods for different seasons of life, I'm going to play around with that idea. And thanks for linking that essay on how the protocol of time has shaped our behavior, fascinating stuff.

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Hey Paul, looking forward to the book! Some feedback on the diagram:

-I'm not sure a radiating circle is the right construct for this. Usually this format is used to show a core, and new layers emanating from the core. But in this instance the final result of emanation is bad work, which is confusing for me.

-For me there is a "time" component to this as I journey along the path. I started in Bad Work -> Out of disappointment/disillusionment started adding Complimentary Activities -> Process of self discovery to identify true Inner Ambition -> Established Good Enough Work to get away from Bad Work -> Now working on developing true Good Work. These are not distinct phases and there are overlaps which makes a true timeline diagram tough, and other people might do these in a different order, but maybe something going from left to right like this makes sense for my journey: https://stock.adobe.com/templates/overlapping-callout-boxes-timeline-layout/194483913

-Complementary Activities: Is "Energizing Activities" an alternate wording? Complementary just means it's running alongside, and these activities could run alongside bad work as well, but it sounds like you're after activities that bring life force, which I more associate with the Good Work part of the journey

I do graphic design and would be happy to iterate on this with you.

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Great feedback. I’m not sold on the framework. Probably will just scrap it tbh

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Hi Paul, thanks for this post. I've just embarked on a new leg of my career, leaving a toxic work environment where I was being micromanaged ("bad work") to start my own consultancy where I'm hoping to do plenty of "good enough work" to pay the bills but also some "good work" that feeds my soul - this includes creating things that help people and make their lives a little bit better. As a designer, I have a deep desire to contribute to the betterment of the world but II'm not sure if this really is my "inner ambition" or if it is perhaps rooted in my own search for love and acceptance. I am in a process of questioning my own construct at the moment and whether saying "I am a designer" is too definitive and limiting. I am neurospicy (ADD) and non hetero normative - the latter I accepted recently and the former I discovered even more recently. As you can imagine, these realisations have shaken up my perception of the world and I'm still processing them. Deep conversations with friends, travel and reading posts like yours on Substack constitute some of my "complimentary activities" and I'm hoping to reignite my passion for some other things that made me happy as a child, like drawing. It was always my dream to be a cartoonist and I feel a need to start working towards that. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and I'd like to hear any you have about my comment here. Feel free to follow me too, my Substack is free while I find and refine my voice and feel I have something valuable to say. For now I'm working on writing more to express myself and would appreciate the support. Cheers :)

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I'm happy to help you craft your visual communication, let me know and we can chat via email.

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E. F. Scumacher has an interesting book called 'Good Work' that might be worth checking out in the context of your inquiry.

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Digging this popup city idea. Hope you'll explore it more and report back on it.

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