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Karen VanHouten at UX Camp Spring Home Edition 2021 (Video)

How We Get Wicked Good

Karen VanHouten closed UX Camp Spring 2021 with the keynote “How We Get Wicked Good.” Enjoy!

Karen VanHouten

Principal Consultant, Open Systems Technologies

A curious enthusiast with a deep love for beautiful messes (fostered over 20 years working in UX for enterprise solutions), Karen currently works as a Principal Consultant for OST (Open Systems Technologies). There she works with organizations to develop holistic digital strategies and build comfort operating in the space between opportunity and risk. She is passionate about intentionally designed work environments, and focuses on inclusion, collaboration, and space for play and experimentation as the most consistent drivers for sustainable success. She also swears a lot, especially on Twitter. And she can show you where she lives on her hand.

​​​The following transcript very likely contains typographical errors. Please forgive any mistakes!

Thank you all for being here. I really wish we could be in person, but I’m glad we’re finding ways to do this without being in person… By the way, I got my first vaccine this week, so if I suddenly start talking about my love for Microsoft products, you know what’s going on? So before I get into this, I wanna give a shout out to my colleagues and friends, Joel McClure and Zoe Wilson, who helped me craft this talk and create the visual narrative, and to all the people who encourage me when I wanted to give up on this talk, it kinda takes a village to extract a talk out of my head. I’ve been working in tech for a very long time, and in UX specifically for over 15 years, this does not necessarily make me smart or good at anything other than being cranky, here’s your care Lyric or as a hidden rage consumes my heart… Pencil, the swearing. So my current work is helping non-digital companies define their digital strategy, so I think manufacturers whose entire processes are in on focused on making concrete physical things which have a very clear definition of done…

The work is hard, the problems are complex, and I’m asking clients to not just invest in technology, but re-think the way they work, and it is always a struggle, but lately, the work doesn’t just feel hard, it feels bad, and I’ve been talking to others and it isn’t just me? It seems like everyone I talk to is at the end of their rope, we’re all pretty crispy, 2020 was a universally shitty here, but the real problem with the past year is not the pandemic, but with the pandemic revealed. So today, I wanna talk to you candidly about how hard our work is and why it often seems harder than it should be, I don’t just wanna talk to you about how to get good, I wanna talk to you about how to get wicked good, because that’s what we need, when we work in environments that seem increasingly set up for failure, if as Emily Dickinson said, hope is a thing with feathers that purchase in the soul, I don’t think I can give you a whole bird today, but maybe I can give you a feather or two.

So we are going to start as many of my journeys to at the base of a mountain, I tend to be a swirl, or when I’m struggling with a personal professional challenge, I can get into a bit of an unproductive tailspin, and I have historically always been able to find grounding and clarity in nature and hiking has been a natural transition for me after years of riding horses and competing in distance writing. So in 2019, my country was a mess, my relationship was as… My job was most enhance, I found myself at the base of the mountain trying to fix my problems, so I have done more challenging hikes than this one before, just a few months earlier, I was in Rocky Mountain National Park and my best friend tackling a hike that started at the elevation that this one ended up, and while it wasn’t easy, I survived, but this time, something in me broke on the trail, so there’s a tiny blue dot you can see on the all trails map. That’s me. And I had been on the trail for over three hours at this point, and I could not seem to get to the summit, I kept checking the map because I started wondering if I had entered some weird time, a space time continuum where I was actually moving backward it felt like the summit was always just around the corner, and then it wasn’t, but I kept going and I made it to the top, and then I had to cope back down down among massive boulders and loose rocks, and if you’ve done any hiking, you know that many times going down this type of terrain is harder than going up, and I could not just have that mountain fast enough, I consider just laying down next to you the trail and becoming a permanent fixture, but I obviously didn’t because I am here today talking to you, but when I did finally make it back to the car covered in sweat, just tears, maybe a little blood, there was a single thought running through my head, Why do I fucking do this to myself, Why is my solution when things get hard, to just throw more in different hard things on my plate, I had been looking for a breakthrough, and instead I got a break down, and the thing about higher altitudes is they make everything that you do harder, five miles at 8000 feet is very different than five miles at sea level.

I’m gonna tell you a little secret. My problem wasn’t mountain.

The problem with training at sea level is that in no way prepared you for the challenges of working at altitude.

And then I came across this concept of kind versus wicked environments. And something clicked for me. So I was introduced to David Epstein through a documentary called In Search Of Greatness, which was about top athletes and their early life and the mindsets that made them truly great, and there was something really intriguing to me about how he was talking about these paths that they took, so I got his book range and so much of it aligned with what I was experienced, what I had experience for years, and there are basically two very different kinds of environments we can play and work in, and the skills and the preparation required for one, don’t translate to the other. So, kind environments are domains where rules are clear and well-articulated, situations are extremely consistent and feedback is clear and immediate, and

These types of environments reward very specialized training and repetition, think things like golf, classical music, chess. Now, none of these things seem true about the type of complex and chaotic problem solving I do in my work.

No friends, most knowledge work, which is the type of work we do, falls into what Epstein calls the wicked domain, rules are unclear. And maybe don’t even exist at all, there may be repetitive patterns, but there may not be, and if they do exist, they’re deep below the surface and at a much more abstract level in feedback, if it comes at all, is often delayed and often unreliable. So think American football, improvisational jazz, UX design, that sort of thing. And maybe the best way to understand the difference between a kind and wicked environment is the fact that a computer can learn to play chess well enough to beat a grandmaster, because CHEST is an extremely kind environment, however, there is not a single dating app in the world, that can seem to find me a suitable partner because my mental and emotional life is an absolutely wicked environment, so working in wicked hard environments is hard enough, but trying to navigate wicked environments using practices from KIND… Environments is a recipe for disaster. It is quite literally a recipe for disaster, there are examples of this in the book, so maybe one of the problems is as I’ve been using the wrong stories to inform my Jeremy, so I started asking myself, What would it take to be wicked good.

So these are things that David have seen, outlines in the book.

Knowledge transfer, cognitive flexibility, analogical thinking, these all come from a breadth of training, which then creates a breadth of transfer, the more contacts in which something is learned, the more the learner can create abstract models.

So learners become better at applying their knowledge to a novel situation, which is the essence of creativity. So when I started thinking about getting Wicked Good, it made me rethink what a career progression looked like, and it made me start wondering what type of mindset shifts I needed to make.

So we normally think of a career progression is a set of stairs, associate designer design or seeing your principal or the manager path, but

The people who have a lot of success in these wicked environments often have way less linear career path, being wicked good isn’t just about becoming good, it’s about being able to endure long enough to build the type of wisdom needed to excel in these environment, so we start by building competency, being able to do something consistently well, so competency is both a foundation and it can be a finish line, this is where the process that Epstein called sampling occurs and it’s really beneficial to dip your toe into a lot of things at this stage. As it’s one of the best ways to start building the flexibility, adaptability needed in these wicked environments, ideally after sampling in these areas, you’ll start to evolve into the state of mastery, and this implies a broader and more comprehensive set of skills. There’s a great TED TED Talk called embrace the near win, where Sarah Lewis talks about the difference between success and mastery, and it’s in the pursuit, she says mastery is not a commitment to the goal, but a constant pursuit, so that means working in the mastery stage is about falling in love with the process of our work, not the outputs of it.

Mastery is in the reaching, not the arriving.

And then comes wisdom, the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding common sense and insight, wisdom is about developing good instincts and being able to leverage all that skill, all the knowledge, being able to abstract the foundational lessons from it and apply them in novel ways. So I wanna give you just a few examples of what it might look like if we reframe our work through the lens of a wicked good mindset.

The evolution of competency to mastery to wisdom, and these are just examples to get your own brain thinking about what your path might look like…

And so we start with gear, and gear represents the tools we used to get our job done, and the way we think about and interact with our tools changes as we move through our career for hiking here is everything from the clothes we wear or backpacks on rough Taran, it’s our hiking poles in endurance ride, it was attacked the horse for… And the tools I carried with me in my Saddlebreds it’s everything from literal tools like sketch and figma or for my sharpies and post it to the templates and the frameworks we use, as someone has dabbled in different types of endurance for something I see consistently is how excited people new to this for in are about getting all the new gear, a lot of times buying that first piece of equipment is what makes you feel like you’re now a member of the community, but while tools are important, they’re only there to support you on your journey, they’re not the purpose of it, and that means that as you spend more time in the environment, you start to value new and cool a lot less than tested and reliable.

I have first-hand experience with this. One of the biggest challenges of riding a horse 50 or so miles in a single day is underwear.

If the first rule of Fight Club is never talk about fight club, the first rule of endurance writing has never tried new pair of underwear out on a ride.

I’m telling you the endurance trail is littered with both the tears and the remnants of unfortunate under garment choices, tools that have been tested and proven to be reliable for you, for you in your journey become really valuable as you work towards mastery.

The longer your journey is the more you start thinking about, and quite literally feeling how your tools both support you and were you down, thinking about our tools as gear can help us evaluate their virtual weight against their practical utility, and help us ask if the tools are supporting our track or directing it… A few months ago, some asshole on Twitter was driving a job candidate for listing Alma a very simple while you’re framing to all on the river on their resume, and I just thought that was such a privilege-GATT attitude, because the purpose of our tool is to help us do our work effectively and good tools don’t weigh us down, and also make is a fine little tool if you need to wire frame

And from a minimalist and flexible perspective, a much better tool for that purpose then FEMA or sketch, so first a big middle finger to the asshole on Twitter and second, put your tools into perspective, the next is way finding, and way finding is how we figure out where we’re going, which fork in the path to take, and when you’ve never been somewhere before, you need a map. And if you Google design thinking, the consistency of images you’ll get, well, very clearly show you it’s a type of map, and the same thing can be said for project management frameworks like scrum.

In math served two purposes, they help us figure out where to go, but they also help us learn to recognize patterns we can leverage even when maps don’t exist, learning to read a map helps us learn to recognize things like grid systems and spoken wheel systems. But Mass are also limiting in two ways, one, they can only give you one option to get where you wanna go, even if there are other ways to get there, I guarantee anybody who’s tried to get Google maps to get them from the top to the bottom of Indiana, without going through the cluster fuck that is… Indianapolis has experiences, the direct route is not always the desire drop second, maps are massive over-simplifications in Busby, Arizona, where I normally like to spend some time in the winter, there is a race called the Bison, Busby is a former mining town, and all the little houses are literally built into the sign of the mountain, which means there are stairs everywhere, so the route itself is about four and a half or five miles, it’s at an elevation of about 5500 feet, and it takes you up nine sets of stairways over the course for a thousand stars total. The map itself is fun and colorful and cartoonish and adorable, but actually completing this route is none of those things, it’s hard, and the first time I did it, I could barely walk for two days… And this is how I feel about a lot of the frameworks we use in our work, there are massive over-simplifications and they make it seem like there’s only one way to get the outcome you need, even if that way isn’t the best way, but there are other ways to navigate, and one of the most common is markers and landmarks, most trails have some sort of marking system, and they can be a bit frustrating to figure out at first, but if you combine those markers with a map, you can start to figure out how each system works, and then you can more quickly suss out new systems. There are often markers and landmarks we use as well on endurance rides, it’s customary to place flags ribbons on each turn, but ride managers will also often put a few flags out in long stretches of trail just to ensure riders haven’t missed a turn.

And we call those confidence markers, and in our work encouragement from people act a lot like confident markers, they just tell us we’re on the right track and to keep going, and then there are also physical landmarks that we learn to recognize when we spend a lot of time in the same place. And one of the key traits of wisdom is our ability to navigate by instinct, you travel enough, eventually you’re going to get lost in developing a general sense of direction is critical, the farther out you go, the less formal navigation systems you get to rely on the biggest shift for me has been learning not to panic when I realize I had lost the trail, I would start to look for some sort of distinct, unique landmark, such a log over a trail, a rock that initially freaked me out ’cause it looked like there… I have learned to become a lot more aware of surroundings in general, and that is what helps me find my way back on track. A lot of the work we do at this level doesn’t fit neatly into the traditional common frameworks, but the fact that we use those frameworks earlier on helps us develop the skills to navigate by instinct at this level, navigating in the wicked domain requires us to develop instincts and learn to rely on landmarks rather than only using prescribed approaches and fixed markers. So attitude as evidence from the story I started with, has a huge impact on how we handle challenges, optimism is really easy, you don’t have any experience, and optimism doesn’t require any type of commitment, hope is where we start seeing commitment. And Tatiana Mac has a great way of framing us, they say, optimism is believing things will change, hope is believing.

We can change things.

So optimism isn’t enough, hope is about responsibility and taking ownership, but even that isn’t enough.

I wrote recently about my creative process, and I talked about my creativity coming in waves and a series of burst and bus, and hope is a lot like that. It can be hard to maintain hope at the very time when we most need it, and that’s when we need to become resolute, and that’s being purposeful and determined in the unwavering

At this level, brilliance is often just the ability to keep putting one foot in front of the other… When things get hard, the

Optimism gets you in the car, the hope, get you on the trail. Resolution gets you to the top.

In his book, Epstein introduces this concept of desirable difficulties, obstacles that make learning more challenging, slower and more frustrating in the short term, but better in the long-term, because they make knowledge both durable and flexible, and we call this type of thing productive struggle. It’s a struggle that builds rather than breaks, I’ve noticed that parts of my work that bring me the most joy also bring me the most frustration, because that’s how life works, just like Rob Base and DJ-E-Z Rock said, joy and pain are just like sunshine and rain.

And if you’re in any type of a leader position, letting your team see you struggle as you work through challenges can be an incredible value, a valuable lesson, but

Only in the right context, productive struggle does not result in suffering, but struggling through the wrong things, that’s problematic in a pretty direct route to burn out, which leads me to train, train is the environment you’re working with, like altitude, different types of terrain can make things that are normally really easy for you suddenly feel impossible when you don’t have a lot of experience. You tend to just have to react to what you encounter coming from Michigan, which is flat and green and sandy, it was a big transition for me to start hiking in the mountains and rocky areas.

And I think of a time a friend came out to spend a few days with me in visby, she was an avid cross-fitter and also a yoga instructor, but that is by 1000 kicked her asked just as hard as a kicked mine, it can be really hard to train for trains you don’t encounter often. And what I found much better than any type of specialized training is to focus on foundational fitness, things like strength, endurance, flexibility, the method matters a lot less than consistency, and whenever I’m struggling at work, I know I can always fall back on research and collaboration, those things have never failed me.

But even with proper training, sometimes you end up in over your head and you need to be willing to change course for your safety, and I don’t think it’s a contradiction to talk about being resolute and talk about being willing to change course. It’s about what is right for each situation in range, Epstein says That tolerating big mistakes can create the best learning opportunities, but you and I both know that’s only true if you have a safe environment. The last time I was in Arizona, I ended up on the side of the mountain covered in ice, and I had never covered… Encountered any kind of snow in that area, I had none of my… I care, and after struggling and thinking about how much worship was gonna be on the way back down, I made the decision to turn around before I got hurt, and I have a great story about how the universe rewarded that decision that I’ll share some other time. This was about two months after the hike I referenced in the intro. So therapy works because I learned my lesson and I change course, wisdom is knowing when to push and when to pivot is something hard? Or is something dangerous? Ask yourself, What outcome am I hoping for, and is this path I likely to get me to that outcome? Is there another route to that outcome that is easier, because if there is then fucking take it, do hard things because they are the things that stand between you and the outcome you want, do not do hard things for the sole reason that they are hard, that will leave you crying on the side of the trail.

That’s hustle culture. And it’s fucking toxic. Not to mention privilege. One of the reasons hustle culture exists is because so many people find their validation through work, and I’m here to say it’s perfectly fine and healthy, if you wanna do good work and get recognized it for it, this is like those confidence markers on trail, validation through work is great if you use it to inform your next steps, but if you only take one thing from this talk, I hope it is this, You have inherent value, period, every single one of you has worth that has nothing to do with your resume, your title, your salary, one of the biggest paradoxes of doing consistently good work is that it starts to make you think that good work is what makes you a good person, there is so much value that doesn’t tie directly to quantitative analytics, and the sooner you realize that, the more impact you can have, because when you recognize you have inherent value, you are willing to say no to things that aren’t right for you, to things that don’t align with your principals regardless of how much money or how much visibility they might give you.

And as I’ve explored anti-racist work, what I’ve learned about white supremacy is that it tells us the fall saratov that we have to earn our worth, and then create systems explicitly designed to make it really hard or even impossible for some people to earn that worth. And that leads me to my next point.

So our work is a wicked heart because that work and the systems of our work are complex.

But lately it’s been feeling like not only is wicked hard, but that our industry is just plain wicked like evil, wicked, morally awful, like like capable of harming people worked…

Is it possible for us not just to make our work easier, but to make our work kinder, the wicked good mindset might help us navigate wicked hard environments, what helps us navigate the wickedness in our environment? Grit is important, resilience, persistence, hard work, all these things are necessary, but we can’t continue to blame individuals for systemic failures, conversations about grit and resilience are meaningless if they don’t also reflect on the systemic inequalities and injustices in our industry and in our society, and all these inequalities and injustices are reflected in the tech we build and the tech we use, I could feel every single slide in this fucking deck with articles like this, all just from the last couple of months, surveillance capitalism, misinformation, sexism, racism built into our foundation, terrorists fueled by social media, and when you see this over and over again, it can be really demoralizing, right. I’ve been reading this book and it is not improving my mood at all, everything seems to be stacked against us making any meaningful change, the metrics of success that drive big tech and that drive almost all businesses are all about more… Make more money, get more users, more clicks, more downloads, more data, more engagement, more attention, there is never enough because these orgs have no bottom…

No community-focused principles, there simply is no top… It’s like me climbing that mom, always thinking the peak is just around the corner, never ever being able to get there. And in many ways, UX or often feel like the canaries in the coal mine, because of the relational nature of our work, because of the very human-centeredness of our work, it often feels like we recognize the weight of this in ways that others don’t… I think of the line here from UX collectives, 2021 state of UX issue, I saw the single line balanced out by heavy white space, this phrase just suspended in the updates and I felt it in my soul, things are not okay. This is not the happy place, Design Thinking promised me, our industry is desperately out of balance and it’s out of balance for a lot of reasons, and I wonder… What does balance look like? What models of balance and complex ecosystems do we have… Sorry, I’m having slide issues there. I do. What if instead of thinking of success as constant expansion is always more… Is always bigger. What if we thought of Success is sustainability meeting our own needs, meeting everyone’s needs in balance with the resources we have access to for models of this…

Once again, go to nature. I think of Suzanne Simard work mapping the communication networks of forest Smart has discovered that fungal friends link nearly every tree in the forest, even trees of different species, the trees communicate with each other, they share carbon and other resources, they warn of danger and clear cutting created over-simplified for us that lacks complexity and diversity, which made them extremely susceptible to disease and insects, but Samar has found that the forest as complex systems have enormous capacity to self-heal, and I believe we do too, but is alive and connected as they are. Trees are relatively passive. But wolves are not passive.

In 1995, a pack of 15 wolves was released into Yellowstone. They’ve been hunted out of the area years ago, and the result was an over population of elk, which was having damaging effects on the entire ecosystem.

Returning the apex predator to the ecosystem created the necessary balance between predator and prey, which allowed other more diverse fees. A plan and animals to thrive, which then reduced to rosin, which instability river banks, which narrowed the channels and created pools and kept the rivers more effective in their course, the wolves were able to do what all kinds of human interventions could not restore balance. Now, side note, I am not saying you need to visualize yourself as a pack of wolves and maybe like Mark Zuckerberg as an elk, but if that visual works for you, go ahead and use this, but…

Can this work with people?

There’s a lovely little documentary called The biggest little farm, and it follows a couple as they find basically barren land and transform it slowly, painfully over seven, eight, nine years to a thriving farm working in balance with nature, their plants and balance with the environment, they’re farm animals living in balance with the wild animals that share the land, and it’s filled with lessons of how a commitment to balance and sustainability while challenging, eventually pays off with rich diversity to the point where maintenance and upkeep goes from being a nightmare to incredibly simple. And I love this quote from the film, if we’ve learned anything forward momentum and hope, that’s what nurtures lock, which can look as simple as the wind changing direction. So what does the wind changing direction look like? Well, the recurring traits of these balance sustainable environments seem to be these four things, direct connections and cooperation amongst the different species, a diversity of plants and animals to balance against each other in a recognition of the interdependence between us and the environment, when our environment is out of balance. So are we… The thing is, this takes time, and it can be really hard to see the signs that your efforts are having any kind of impact.

So I’ve started looking for signs, I’ve started looking for the small signs that were moving to balance things like this, the reaction against Google’s firing of lead are church in negate researchers, including white dude researchers are publicly breaking ties with Google and putting very visible pressure on them to get their shit together, I think of people like Arlen Hamilton of backstage Capital who’s shifting the balance and VC funding models and approaches prioritizing historically under-invested or as Arlen calls it, underestimated founders and being successful at it. And they think of how awareness of misinformation and spreading and work of Nadine, Jamie and Claire at an with check my ads where they help organizations be more responsible about the media they support with their ad dollars, and Congress…

Absolutely, Congress, get your shit together. We need more accountability and regulation, I need more wolves and congress and I need way less help these problems rightfully feel big, but their her scope can make us feel very small, like standing at the base of a mountain and not even being able to see to the top, but then I think about the quote about acting, there are no small parts, only small actors. Even small things can have an impact when you layer on connection, cooperation, diversity, and interdependence. Let me give you an example of what this might look like.

So this is me, or maybe if you inside just one of these problem spaces, but then say, I have an idea and I do have an idea, this is a real idea, I’m working on. It’s not a big idea.

One little small idea, and I have decided that when I put together statements of work, I’m making an accessibility on all the projects I sell, it’s not optional for our clients, rather than trying to sell clients on the value of accessibility, I just sell it as part of the process as a whole, and that means I start viewing, my job is doing what is right, not doing what is asked. So say I start doing this work and I start sharing that idea.

So I share it with my team, this broader adoption and maybe it becomes an organizational standard, so I’ve been able to influence that two levels here, my organization and the clients we work with on projects, but it doesn’t stop there as my organization interacts with more clients, even if this work only impacts a small percentage of them, the ones that does impact and also spread the impact, but it still doesn’t stop there because I should say I share this idea of my community for example, at a conference, and then even if only a small percentage of my community decides to try something similar, and you can see how the spreads, and you can also see how this starts to look a lot like Suzanne smarts diagram of the forest communication system, because this is how networks work, whether they’re Burgin for trees, are designers and developers.

We often dismiss small efforts like this because the promise of big sweeping transformations are so incredibly appealing and sexy, but so rarely successful, but I’m here to tell you, small is sexy because getting shit done is a lot sexier than crying about the problems being too big. I absolutely love this quote from Maggie Smith, think about geological time, how the slightest shifts, imperceptible daily carve canyons and make moans trust that you are making progress even if you can’t see it. The most impactful and lasting changes happen slowly over time, if we are directionally correct, we have to trust we are making progress, even if we can’t see it. Like a million years ago, I was a competitive gymnast, and I can tell you that there is real power when you combine balance with momentum.

So this whole fucking move fast and break things, added to attitude is what’s gotten us here, so can we just all agree to toss that shit. It’s time to pivot. My navigation instincts have kicked in and they’re telling me it’s time to change course, the only way I know that I’ve consistently been able to tackle really gnarly masses is to think about how I can do it slower and make it smaller because then everyone is safer at many long distance events, It’s customary to give a special award of some kind of the person who finishes last in endurance riding, this was called the turtle Award, and these were not given in just… I was thrilled. Tourette award at my first 50-mile endurance ride, I finished so much farther at Tillerson in front of me that they had started the potluck without me, but the vet checking out my horse at the Young told me that a third of the entrance didn’t finish because the course was so tough.

And he also told me that my course looked like she could have gone for another loop, which is the highest compliment you can get that you’ve taken care of your partner, almost anyone can get through a single hard race, but in order to have an enduring career. We need to slow down, we need to act small consistently, and we need to restore our communities so these small acts can have big impact. My hope is that’s how we start to shift the balance, that’s how we get Wicked Good, and that’s how we make our wicked world kinder. And kinda starts with yourself, because this approach requires a healthy community, which requires healthy community members, Vivian Custis beautifully says that self-care is an ethical imperative, she’s building an amazing community with humanity-centered where they challenge the status quo of what it needs to be human-centered and to me, the work that Vivian is doing is just another example of us moving towards balance, it’s only when we prioritize a sustainable career for ourselves that we can create a more sustainable community practice for others. I, for myself, has decided to view my anger and outrage as precious because that represents stored energy just waiting to be unleashed in the right direction, you can either spend that energy arguing, arguing over stupid things on Twitter like, is everyone a design? Or how much experience at a senior designer have are my fucking favorite should designer’s code? Or you can save that energy for higher purpose, instead of arguing about shades GERS code, why aren’t we arguing about shades Ines care? I believe that we can have a real impact if we care what we need to align around the important things, only then can we share the weight of the work and make it more Taliban, tolerable.

Reserving your precious folks for the things that truly matter is a beautiful defiant act of self and community care, I wanna see is not just survive but thrive in wicked environments, and I believe a lot of us actually love that kind of work. The goal is an easy, it’s kind, it’s sustainable. And none of us can do that alone, but maybe together we can create kinder, more equitable, more sustainable environments, the best way to get wicked good is about to be wicked kind, be wicked kind to ourselves and to each other, that’s where we find balance, that’s how we build momentum by caring about an acting on the right things together. The prescription for wicked is kindness. If we do nothing else, let’s all try to leave people in space as kinder than we found them.

Thank you.

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