Weeknotes S7 Ep05

Ok I’m listening now

A David Shrigley painting of an elephant that says “I must rest, my rampage is over”

Before I begin

So last week I wrote about losing my voice and feeling ill, and how I was listening to my body and resting. I realise now that I probably wasn’t really listing to my body, not really, even though I was espousing the virtues of doing so.

I spent the day in bed but I was writing and surfing the net and generally bumbling about. Too lazy to cook I ate crisps and a giant chocolate cookie. I should have been sleeping and resting, NOT writing weeknotes. By Friday night I was really ill with aches and shivers and general bleugh-ness. I spent all day Saturday wiped-out in bed.

Sunday I didn’t listen to my body again, my parents were visiting so I got up and went out for pizza with them. By 3pm I was shattered and returned to bed, and on Monday, when I was supposed to be at work, I really didn’t think I could face the commute. I worked from home and tried my hardest to concentrate.

Then on Tuesday my little one woke up with a ridiculous cough. That meant a 5am call to 111 and a 7am trip to the hospital, hasty revision of childcare, and – I’ll be honest – a bit of a panic from me about how on earth I was going to get any work done.

But I have a husband and a nanny and a nearby mother-in law. I am lucky.

So anyway, the short story here is that it’s been a strange week. I’ve been working through not being in the office, but I’ve felt a bit detached and frustrated. I’m looking forward to getting back to work on mond… except, oh wait, I’m not back on Monday because I have a funeral to go to.

Adventure timers looking sad

So that’s the other thing, in amongst all of this illness and general anxiety about getting my work done, there are significant life events happening just to add in an extra layer of sadness and anxiety.

A family friend passed away and it was a huge shock. She was the kind of family friend that shaped huge parts of your childhood without you realising or appreciating it. Now she is gone, and her children, my age, my childhood friends, don’t have a mum.

I still have a mum. I am lucky.


Secondly, we visited the paediatrician with our little one. Quite aside from the stress and frustration of her not having ANY of the letters that have been sent to her in the past year, and the apologies that it’s been a year since he was last seen (leaving us in parental limbo all that time).

She told us that she now wants to pursue a diagnosis of autism.

Even though it’s not a surprise it’s still a surprise.

I’m extraordinarily grateful to the beautiful human Jenny who sent me this, and that’s about all I can say on that for the moment.


Anyway, what about work?

This week has been characterised by hangouts and calls. On Monday morning at stand up I realised that I was the only collaboration lead working, Adam and Egle were on leave, and we were due to brief the minister on our discovery projects. So, while still feeling quite ill, I did this via hangouts.

A weaving by Kate Blandford that says “Oh no”

It was a bit surreal as I couldn’t see the room at all so I couldn’t read anyone’s faces, and I had to make apologies for my still recovering voice. but I felt some sense of achievement afterwards.

I had two good workshops with Adam and Egle, in one we talked about our Alpha projects, in the other we talked about feedback we have received from our funded projects and looked at what we could do to change to improve it for next time.

There are a lot of different aspects to our work, a lot of factors at play and a lot of different ways to think about evolving what we do. I’m uncertain at the moment whether we are being tasked with evolution or revolution, and increasingly conscious of how early days this all is for four team.

A selection of posters by Morag Myerscough, one of which says “Dream big make it happen”

I seem to have found myself in another role where there are blurry lines around the role and there’s some generalisation. On one hand we are engaging, broadcasting, on the other we are agile coaching, product managing, and then also analysing and “assessing” [1].

These are all different skills needed at different times, and I find myself wondering what we need to do to move to more of a product mindset. I think we need some key OKRs or KPIs in order to answer that and we don’t currently have these formalised. There is also, I think, a space here for a strategic lead to define and shape what is most important to us, but we don’t currently have that, perhaps it will come when our new policy person joins us or when Linda’s replacement does.

A poster that reads “I can’t do this but I’m doing it anyway”

I guess I feel slightly frustrated that we have been necessarily working in some ambiguity, and now that we have gathered lots of information things somehow seem less clear rather than clearer and that expectations for what we have been able to achieve in this time haven’t been as well understood as I had thought.

I sense this frustration in others too, and I need to be mindful that we just need to keep moving forward and that things will take time.

I also need to be able to give others the benefit of the doubt when I’m feeling frustrated. This is really hard but I’m trying.

I have also noticed that I tend to be harder on people that I really rate because I believe in and think highly of them, which unfurtunately means it’s easy for me to feel let down.

I’m really aware that this is my problem – it’s not fair on others if I hold them to unrealistic expectations. I’m working on this and I really need to learn it so that I can be the leader I want to be.


And what else?

I had a good call with James, Nour and David about the One Team Gov Radical Futures work and took some actions which I then haven’t had the time to do – I’ll have to try and make some evenings free next week.

I received a really lovely blog post from Jackie about crafting and the #WellbeingCamp so look out for that coming soon!

The One Team Gov Finland team had their very first unconference and it looked like a belter, it’s awesome to see this growing.

I read this interesting article online and tweeted it without passing opinion, just saying it was interesting. I saw a few people talking about it over the course of the day and I totally get why it split opinions. It does elicit a certain amount of apathy and I was thinking as I was reading it that most people need whatever mindfulness gives them in order to be able to fight the good fight, rather than to just be sedated.

Props to Trilly for pointing out this awesome counter argument by Mark Brown [click through for thread]

There’s a useful lesson here for me to remember to really consider my opinion on something before RTing and decide if I should make it explicit at the time.

I guess I don’t because I know I always have my weeknotes to expand my thoughts if I need to, but I can see how that article could be potentially damaging or triggering, so I feel a bit sorry about that.

There were some great conversations on twitter on this theme:

And what else? Well I’ve been watching this:

And watching series 2 of Killing Eve which is everything I wanted it to be so far. I also watched the Paula Rego documentary on BBC4 and it comes recommended.

Ok, that’ll do for now. Have a lovely weekend.

[1] I use this word with the caveat that we are not at all assessing in terms of we aren’t scoring work or assessing in the GDS sense, but the skills of understanding what good looks like are the same, and that’s what I mean here.

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