Alright. A month ago I was at Rally (Rally!) and had a bunch of shivanautical insights related to checklists.

Namely that I need them. Badly. Oh, so very, very badly! But also that I don’t like them very much.

Here’s what I wrote about checklists while doing some stone skipping:

Why checklists are so very useful.

  • They are a map.
  • They tell you what to do and where to go and when.
  • They create forms and shapes to hold things for you.
  • They let you not hold so much crap in your head.
  • They make spaciousness. See also: the flow chart of spaciousness.
  • They bring in new patterns and order.
  • They allow you to biggify because there aren’t so many limitations on growth — i.e. the limitations based on holding everything in your head (again).
  • They save lives. Surgeons and pilots use them to be more efficient, work smarter and avoid catastrophe.
  • They allow for growth in all directions.
  • They are adaptable.
  • They give you the structure/form/container/that lets you have freedom and play!
  • They are queenly. Yay, sovereignty.
  • Things can still happen if/when I’m not there to do them.
  • They allow for important things to be transmitted to groups of people.
  • They create room for rest.

Why I resist making/using checklists, even when I know I need them:

The name. Bleh.

Any other negative associations?

Ahahahaha. Yes. Like these:

[+ grown-ups] [+boring] [+predictable] [+should] [+inowanna iguana!] [+resistance] [+Bargal-esque]

Ah. Okay. Bargal was this company I worked for in Israel where everything had to be filed in triplicate.

And I think the whole checklist thing has morphed into a symbol of exactly that kind of depressing, time-consuming, stick-up-the-ass system-for-its-own-sake which I associate with that incredibly straight job.

So yes. Definitely resistance!

What I want from this new kind of checklist:

Qualities of:

[+ adaptability]

Check baby check baby 1234.

Alright. So what am I going to call this new kind of checklist?

Is it an index?

A listing? Like listing to port! Tee hee!

Treasure inventory?

Treasure registry. Treasuregistry. No good.

A treasure checklist. A treasure chest list. A chest list. CHECKERS.

I’m calling it checkers. For now. Where’s my Checkers?

So that was a month ago.

I came up with CHECKERS for each part of leading Rally.

And then didn’t print any of them out.

Last night I was running the Rally orientation, and it came time to explain the fine art of Schmurphling. Which is a thing that I invented. For Rally. It’s awesome. You should come to Rally and schmurphle with us some time.

And I was all, oh tralala this is not a problem. I explained all the different and varied Rules of Schmurphling and it was fine.

We schmurphled. These particular Rallions seem to be exceptionally accomplished schmurphlers and we were getting into some pretty advanced schmurphling, dare I say.

Then we finished and I realized I’d forgotten to mention the SECOND MOST IMPORTANT RULE OF SCHMURPHLING, which is that if you don’t feel like being the schmurphler you can call Silent Retreat!

But I forgot because I didn’t have my CHECKERS.

“And that’s why you always have a checklist…”

In my head, I’m imagining J. Walter Weatherman saying that, of course.

Things I am reminding myself of right now:

What Cairene would say: systems are always in motion. You add, you subtract, you make changes. You look at what is working. And then what you can mess with.

What Hiro would say: go to the essence. Look at what a checklist gives you (support, containment, permission) and fill up on those qualities first.

What I would say: It’s all practice. You play. You ask questions. You experiment. You move the pieces around. You remember the fractal flowers. You dance on it.

Each piece is useful.

Every understanding — about why checklists are powerful, why I resist them, what I need to change in order to make them work for me — is useful.

And there’s time.

Everything moves and changes.

At the next Rally (#12!), I’ll have a slightly different system.

And I’ll learn something new that will help make it better. Something about what isn’t working. Something about what might help.

I’ll establish a new hypothesis, invent a new metaphor, wear a new costume.

At the very least, it will be interesting.

Play with me?

No advice please, but stories of your own flawed systems are welcome.

So is humming TRALALA with me, making up silly names for checklists or talking about any of this stuff.

Love to the commenter mice, the Beloved Lurkers and everyone who reads!

The Fluent Self