There are two kinds of personalities in the workplace when it comes to sharing knowledge: doors and windows.

Doors do not share what they know. These are people who don’t collaborate unless they absolutely have to, and even then, they can be difficult to work with. They keep knowledge to themselves, and they rarely offer to help other people. Sometimes this is unintentional. A door may be too busy and doesn’t make time to share. Or maybe doors want to focus only on their work and aren’t interested in volunteering for anything that’s outside of their normal responsibilities.

But some doors are intentional. They protect their knowledge and experience, believing they have an advantage if no one else knows what they know. They like the control. They relish feeling needed.

Windows, on the other hand, do not hold back knowledge. If these people can answer your question, they will. If they’re able to help you with a challenge, they raise their hand. They enjoy teaching what they know, and they appreciate when you share what you know, too. Windows know that it doesn’t matter if everyone knows what they know. What matters is doing the best work they’re capable of.

Being a window has its perks:

  • They get noticed because they’re willing to talk and work with anyone.
  • They become dependable resources.
  • They are known as experts, not because they know everything, but because they teach and share what they know.
  • They are offered new opportunities, because they are open to things outside their norm.

Knowledge that’s locked away doesn’t benefit anyone, so be a window instead of a door.

With #PlanWithMeAugust going on, I’ve been meaning to see if there are people writing about the Bullet Journal on Medium and the answer is, kind of.

Here are three posts over on Medium that aren’t new info if you’re already familiar with the method, but may be helpful if bullet journaling is new to you.

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Some stuff I’ve been reading lately:

17 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of Bookstores (mental_floss)

Stop Drinking Bottled Water (Gizmodo)

How an artificial language from 1887 is finding new life online (The Verge)

Best practices from the most active Slack users (Fast Company)

Upon This Wrist (Medium)

How the wrong people get promoted and how to change it (Fast Company)

What If Everybody Didn’t Have to Work to Get Paid? (The Atlantic)

Photo credit: Before sunset by Daniel Dudek-Corrigan via photopin (license) Modification: added text

There’s a psych term, functional fixedness, for a concept about being stuck thinking about an object only in the way it was intended to be used. Binder clips are only for holding together a stack of papers and you wouldn’t think of using them for anything else.

I have a good memory for concepts but not always for their formal names, so I referred to that idea as the opposite of what MacGyver has. He can solve any problem with simple objects (like paper clips, duct tape, and a Swiss army knife) because he thinks beyond common uses.

I’ve been thinking about what functional fixedness looks like in writing. It could mean that you stick with initial ideas instead of thinking of other possibilities. It might mean that you don’t look beyond usual genre tropes.

So how do you get unstuck? Or maybe a better question is, how do you keep your mind flexible?

One answer is, look at stories and pull them apart. The story could be in any medium—look at novels but also look at TV, movies, comic books, podcasts, plays…whatever interests you.

Ask questions about the characters, story structure, plot, writing style, tone. Figure out what works and what doesn’t. Think about why you like or don’t like the story.

Stay flexible by paying close attention to stories.

Photo credit: Hallvard E via photopin cc