Well another week flits on by, sprinting for the tinselled flag of Christmas before February even finished. Still, if hot-cross buns appear in supermarkets, then I’m a happy (Easter) bunny! In Australia, these started in January for some reason. I’ve indulged myself recently on a couple of excellent Flashman books when the brain has been a little addled from the working week. Alas, there is limited learning available other than how a nineteenth century handsome coward rogers and ploughs many a buxom wench on his travels. Admittedly not entirely useful.
The classic 7 Habits of Effective People by Steve Covey is currently on the reading hit-list. It’s just an excellent all-around book that puts you in the driving seat for your own development. I love his approach for sharing chores round with his children, plotting family goals and their own individual ones. I’d love to know if this actually worked – did this bite the author in the arse or did they persist into academic or entrepreneurial excellence? I’ve never known any family to attempt such a thing as dividing up the chores, and am absolutely fascinated. In doing a little research, Covey had nine children. And fifty-two grandchildren. Maybe he was reading a little Flashy, eh?
I spent yesterday down the coast, taking lots of photos to improve my craft. I bought some ND filters and love the effects. As for my other shorter term and longer-term goals:
When I honestly review the above, the photography and the writing is sending me in the right direction, and I truly believe that writing a photography guide will help me as well as others. However, I’m not doing enough book-writing and not doing enough approaching of publishers. So, while accomplishing small term goals, I need to keep the longer ones in check.
How are your goals going for the year? Are your New Years Resolutions bearing fruit or do you need to readjust? If you’ve achieved them already, what’s next?
To quote the man Burns, the best-laid schemes o' mice an' men, gang aft agley. No matter how much you prepare, plans often go awry. And that’s when you either make excuses, or make more plans. Often, I think, it’s not the present environment that’s causing problems, but your past.
There are two instances this week that have inspired my curiosity. The first from a friend decrying his current employment situation (lack of strategic objectives and simply talent of his current managers). Was the failure by others though his opportunity to shine? Sometimes yes, but through disappointment, anger and frustration at those less talented pulling ahead of him in the company, he cannot see the light. Re-phrasing, he will not see the light. For him, his chemical make-up, his ‘this is how I am’ and identifying the errors of others is where the blame is. This I cannot countenance. You’re the master of your own ship, no one else. You cannot change the sea or wind, but you’re holding the tiller.
The second example came from a friend’s past ‘fight or flight’ scenario in a relationship that has sown a seed – in this case, emotional euphoria attached to a memory guiding future decision making without even realising it. It may well be a valid conclusion, it may well be nonsensical, but in either case, unless you spend time with yourself, on self-analysis, on the why you do things, you’ll never know. Then whatever the outcome, comes self-healing and some self-love.
For me, in a topsy-turvy week as a product has neared launch, there have been overtures from different parts of the business that potential to plunge the project into madness. As it is, we’re still ploughing away, dodging and weaving, coercing stakeholders at every point whilst not losing sight of our goals. Constantly conjuring ideas has actually been fun rather than taxing, and I owe this in part to James Altucher – for all his ‘higher energy’ twaddle, I have stuck to trying to develop ten ideas a day. This encourages brain nimbleness (maybe) when presented with problems. As a colleague questioned whether our sanity could take another week of change, the response was simple: these are the critical tasks for the week, each can birth a multitude of omnishables (or cacophony of clusterfuc*s, for the alliteration). Be ready. And bring some biscuits, naturally.
Am now in the process of writing my second. Doing this in alignment with a full-time job can be slow going, like a mason chipping away at a delicate sculpture whilst being booted up the arse by a goat every day. Am also working on my similes.
My first opus took a long time. To paraphrase the great Blackadder’s Prince George when celebrating Dr. Johnstone’s completion of the first ever dictionary, which took him ten years, ‘well, I’m a slow reader myself’. For my part I struggled to find my writing style and therefore came up with what seemed to be a pretty damned excellent approach – put my computer away and barely write for the next two years, spending money on fast booze and slow women. The rest of it, I wasted. It’s not exactly a tried and tested method, I grant you.
However, abandoning ship just meant the ideas fermented slowly, and writing pulled me back in the end. It’s a cyclical oddity that you can’t write because you haven’t found your voice, but you can’t find your voice without writing in the first place. Writing short pieces in the interim made things far easier, as too has blogging consistently to establish a rhythm. So, whether it’s writing letters, writing blogs, writing poetry or writing anything, you have to practice.
The notable difference this time (other than not being hungover constantly) is the amount I read. I’ve consumed more books in the last three months than I have in five years. This is simply sharpening the tools of the trade, reviewing the styles and wordsmithery of published and successful authors. I never thought of reading books as study for writing, but it is in the most literal sense (hardy ha ha). If you’re imbibing from the deep wells of knowledge collected over hundreds of years across cultures and countries, how can this not benefit?
I have several friends that have books in them, but they not only lack the discipline, they lack the desire. Although everyone will re-iterate that the former is far more important, defining a routine and a schedule, I would side with the latter. If you have the desire to write, you barely need a routine as you’ll be drawn to it. But whatever your aims, keep writing. Now, whilst the rain belts down, some tea and biscuits await. They obviously help in some way ha ha
I have slowed down my reading for January, not because of any particular want, simply because the tomes I’ve picked up have required more of me. The self-improvement ones always me to do things, which is quite frankly a pain in the ass. Just as a slight addendum, if one was necessary, it doesn’t involve inserting books into anuses in the literal sense . . . that would be, unwelcoming. But the thing about being asked to do things, is that part of me thinks I’m already reading the bloody book, how much more of me do you want of me?! It turns out – and you may want to sit down for this a donut pillow for this - you don’t turn your life around simply by reading about it and not actioning anything. Who knew?!
There are other common themes too. Whether it’s Tim Ferriss’ Four Hour Work Week, John and Claudia Altucher’s The Power of No or James Allen’s As a Man Thinketh, the message is the same: it all starts with self-reliance. The inner strengths and core belief in yourself to make things happen, starts with getting off your ass and doing something, dedicating some aspect of your time to organise your life to get things done. It’s all well and good talking, but if you come home, sit in front of the television with a couple of beers and wonder why your life isn’t changing for the better, then I think you have your answer . . . unless of course your actual job is to watch television and drink beer, where you are handsomely rewarded for your opinion on both topics. In that case, hats off to you, and please let me know if there is a vacancy. For the rest of us mere mortals, it takes graft.
There are three variations on a theme: the first is to do things; the second is to do things right; the third is to do the right things. Everyone can be busy, which is why regularly reviewing your direction is necessary. Keep asking ‘what’s the goal? what is the end state?’ To borrow from the excellent 7 Habits of Effective People:
"Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things." You can quickly grasp the important difference between the two if you envision a group of workers cutting their way through the jungle with machetes. Managers are behind them, sharpening their machetes, writing policy and procedure manuals, holding muscle development programs . . .the leader is the one who climbs the tallest tree, surveys the entire situation, and yells, "Wrong jungle!"
The most useful method heard recently was envisioning your own epitaph. What do you want it to say? Would you be happy with your lot? In any project I've ever worked on, you know the result you want to get out of it, so why not in life as well? Another method is that if a doctor relayed that you only had one year left on this sweet earth, what would you do? . . . as for me, I’d probably ask for a second opinion.
Writing and writing...