Ex Post Facto no. 4 – Biff Tannens, Beaver Butts, & Psychological Safety
There are two types of retroactive knowledge. First, there are things that would have helped you do better if you could go back in time. I call those Biff Tannens.
Then there’s the second type, which after today’s Ex Post Facto, I’m going to start calling Beaver Butts. These are things that just make you realize how weird the world has been all along.
Here’s this week’s three things you’ll wish you’d known earlier:
One EXcellent bit of wisdom:
Everything bad that happens to you is a story you can tell later. Life will always have ups and downs. One way to make the downs a little easier to endure is to think about the story you’ll tell about them later. Tragedies give us wisdom to pass on.
I’ve been thinking about this in particular in terms of the Covid crisis. What story will I tell the youths 40 years from now about this time? That question alone has reframed the way I’m looking at—and learning from—this experience.
So next time you get splashed by a car, or rejected, or punched in the face by the universe—allow a part of you to get excited. It’ll be a good story.
One POST you don’t want to miss:
What Psychological Safety Actually Means <— I really wish I could go back in time and get this right.
This powerful principle helps groups of people to explore further, solve problems, and get along when they disagree. But it’s usually misapplied and misunderstood, especially by people who have power dynamics in their favor. In this post, I share how I got it wrong, and how you can get it right.
One FACT Of great importance:
This week, I told my wife I didn’t like strawberry flavoring. She told me that’s because it’s made of “beaver butt juice.” I made her a bet that that was not possibly true.
It turns out that the mature American and European beavers secrete “castoreum” from their anal glands, and for the last hundred years we’ve been using it as a food additive. The FDA has approved it as “Generally Recognized As Safe” or GRAS (an acronym I never knew, and which sounds very much like FDA hedging to me).
In ice cream and other strawberry flavored foods that don’t use real strawberries, companies are allowed to list castoreum in the ingredients as “natural flavor.”
If that horrifies you… well hey, at least you have a story now to tell.
I’m sorry and you’re welcome.
Until next weekend,
P.S. I had to make myself feel better about castoreum by looking at these 30 adorable pictures of baby beavers. Let me know if that helps.