Who am I?

I’m an Agilist, a former software engineer, a gamer, an improviser, a podcaster emeritus, and a wine lover. Learn more.

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Paul Tevis

Entries in things that resonate with me (36)


Almost a Manifesto

So, the two other TED Talks that I needed more time and words for.

First, I love the line: “Maybe stories are just data with a soul.”

Second, the notion that the original meaning of courage is “To tell the story of who you are with your whole heart” speaks deeply to me. That what’s going on in both of these talks. That’s what grabs me about Johanna’s writing. That’s the kind of life I aspire to live.

These two talks capture so much of my outlook on life. Neil’s emphasis on attitude, awareness, and authenticity bring into sharp focus to what I believe and how I try to live. Brene’s research into vulnerability reminds me of the dangers and rewards of trying to live that way.

So what I keep telling myself is this: Be your whole self. Do so mindfully, not uncritically. Be fully present in your own life, aware of the impact you have on others and open to the impact they can have on you. Tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.


Fitness: Run 3.2 miles
Writing: 368 words

TED Talks From My Travels

Whenever I have a long solo drive, I load up my iPhone with TED Talks and fill my brain with wonderfulness. Here are four talks I listened to on my way to and from Oakland this weekend that spoke to me.

  • Barry Schwartz on practical wisdom. Anyone who applies Aristotle — and particularly virtue ethics — to today’s problems get my attention.
  • Charles Limb talking about your brain on improv. It seems like every neuroscience experiment today involves watching someone do something inside an fMRI machine, but this is a topic near and dear to my hear. Plus, he gets bonus points for rapping in a TED Talk.
  • Rufus Griscom and Alisa Volkman break the four taboos of parenting. There’s a remarkable amount of things like this that just don’t get talked about.
  • Lezley Hazelton’s spellbinding account of reading the Koran. Seriously: Listen to this, people.

There are two more than I want to talk about, but they deserve more time and their own post.


Fitness: 30 minutes from the exercise deck.
Writing: 141 words.

Putting Principles Into Practice

I met Johanna Rothman at Agile 2010 in Orlando. I’d been reading her blog about managing product development, and it was a real pleasure to hear her speak in person. I hung out after the session and got to talk with her about some the challenges we’re facing at work. Our paths ended up crossing several times, which led to a running joke about her stalking me.

In December, Johanna started a new blog. Here’s how it started:

I’ve been living with vertigo and sudden hearing loss in my right ear since Sept 5, 2009. I had an intralabyrinthine hemorrhage, damaging my auditory nerve and one of my cochlear nerves. So, my hearing loss is permanent, due to nerve damage on my auditory nerve.

I only had the whirling vertigo for a week or two. I have oscillopsia: the world goes up and down when my head goes and up and down. And, I have nystagmus, involuntary eye movements when I turn my head left or right. Because my vestibular system is compromised, I have lagging vision when I turn my head from the left to the right.

Some days are better than others.

I’m still investigating what I can do to eliminate the vertigo, but so far, there is no cure.

Vertigo — constant vertigo — means you adapt to every moment every day. Unless you don’t move your head. Then you don’t need to adapt. Well, I’ve got too much to do to not move my head.

This blog is part memoir, part looking ahead, so you and I can learn together about what it takes to create an adaptable life. If you need to adapt to sort of change in your life, whether it was imposed on you or you chose it, you’ve come to the right place. Welcome!

It’s quickly turned into the most meaningful and inspiring read in my RSS feeds. Johanna has decades of experience with organizational change. Now she’s very publicly applying those principles to living with her disability. So she writes bravely about things like applying Gerald Weinberg’s Rule of Three to break through a trap of false optimism or looking at how asking for help can build your influence. I can’t read it without learning and feeling something.


Fitness: Nothing
Writing: 98 words

Forgetting Our Limitations

On the drive to Oakland today, I listened to a fascinating episode of the Radiolab podcast about ultra-runner Diana Van Deren. Go have a listen, because I want to talk about something she says.

Ok, that bit around 14:15 hit me. “She doesn’t know how tired she should feel.” She only knows how tired she actually feels.

One of the barriers to being fully present is that we bring a lot of our past perceptions with us. We’re often so caught up in what we think we’re doing and how we think we’re supposed to do it that we ignore the feedback we’re getting of the actual experience of doing it.

What could we do if we didn’t know how tired we were supposed to be?


Fitness: Rest day
Writing: 81 words

Wisdom From Misadventure

As far as I can tell, by buddy Ryan is writing for me right now.

At the beginning of the year, he set himself a goal of thirteen posts a month.1 He’s doing the kind of slow-burn, introspective, reflective writing that I enjoy. He notices something, writes about it, and builds on that idea later. I love watching the process; it’s a much richer experience than just seeing the final summation. It also produces good results, and lately he’s been knocking it out of the park.

A lot of his recent posts resonate strongly with me. Consider these three: Eating Lunch, Thoughts on The Long Game, and A Strange, New Realization. Reading these together, I see the common theme: Figure out what decisions matter and which ones don’t. There’s not enough time to do everything, so how do we make sure our actions are congruent with our priorities?

That’s something that speaks to me. Sometimes I feel like I need my own version of the Serenity Prayer:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept not doing the things that do not matter, the courage to do the things that do, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

So thanks, Ryan, for giving me more food for thought.

1 This means he’s got a bit more time to let things stew than I do, which is probably why he gets into a bit more depth.