Reflections on 2012

So we get it out-of-the-way, here is the executive summary of things I did instead of just talk about doing these things in 2012:

  • I helped lead the charge on moving “Project Tin Can” into a full-on specification called Experience API with a whole bunch of people.
  • I founded a new community (and a retreat) called Up to All of Us, organized with newfound partner-in-crime, Megan Bowe (@meganbowe) and a whole lot of help from those in attendance.
  • We organized a second retreat for the Overlap community, paying forward the incredible amount of experience I had at Overlap ’11
  • I keynoted a few conferences, ran some workshops, disrupted organizations with permission.
  • I wrote magazine articles.
  • I actually did some UI/UX and designed a web app.
  • I made a lot of new friends.
  • I made a lot of new local friends.
  • I helped a lot of people figure out what they need/want to do and, some, figure out how to do it.
  • I became closer with my kids.
  • I dropped 50 pounds.
  • I took to the law of two feet and made some changes to help me and others find our own happy.
  • I co-worked with incredible people.
  • I started liking me a lot more.

Yes, I made awesome happen. More realistically, I took on a lot of shit this year that I just had to take on.

I’m actualizing. I’m not going to tell you it’s easy. I’m not even going to tell you (yet) that I’ll be better off as a result of what I’ve taken on and how I’ve done it, or because of what the feedback is now.

I’ll tell you that I feel better for it, because there are things I wanted to see in the world and by sharing them with others they became real. Sharing is more than just telling people what these things are; rather, it’s that I let people in to own the ideas with me.

I’m becoming much more the cause, and much less the effect. This doesn’t always make me happy, in a unicorn-filled-rainbow way. Doing so helps me sleep better and lose weight.

So, what have I learned?

I’ve learned that when you surround yourself with really good people with bright minds, big hearts and steady hands you can do amazing things. When you can share those things because they’re bigger than anything you can do on your own, you can share the dents you want to put in the universe. Such dents tend to be so big that there’s plenty of room to share, for each to claim a piece of it as their own, and to collectively look at what you’ve done as a collaborative work.

That’s what Up to All of Us was for me. It was only special when other people believed it to be so. The Experience API became special when other could dive in, own it with others and make it their own.

I’ve been learning, finally, how to collaborate. I’ve been learning, finally, how to lead. What works for moving people and our big rocks is also a good set of mantras to help move life… mostly, it comes down to communicating often: truthfully, honestly, openly and candidly – especially when it’s hard.

The only thing I can possibly add to that is to focus on what actually has to be done, instead of how it has to be done, and open yourself to all the ways in which it might get done. Then? Ready yourself to be wrong about everything. Avoid using “no,” “can’t,” “won’t” and ”don’t.” At the risk of inciting a riot, work your ass off to say “yes, and…” to the hard stuff.

I’m putting a small dent in the universe. You can make bigger ones, too.

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