Tim Ferriss, what an absolutely fascinating human being. I’ve listened to his podcasts for years and have started reading Four-Hour Work Week. I wrote several months ago about using curiosity to find help find your passions, but Tim paints a different picture, suggesting that excitement is the key. I love this. What excites you? What a wonderful question. I get really excited about landscapes, about travel, photography, about engaging human beings (to learn from and help develop them) and about starting new ventures. I love comedy and stories, the personal tales that bind us together, I love film and stories of motivation that drive people to unspeakable achievements . . . well, unspeakable, but then talk about them, so . . . ahem, onwards! I also love technology and how it betters us as human beings. However, here is where the analysis has to start. Let’s work backwards.
I love technology but to a limited degree. I like a good laptop for my writing and picture editing, a drone for fun and picture taking, and a good camera to pursue my hobbies. I don’t have the passion to delve deep into development code or wire up my house to automatically turn the lights on and off. I don’t have a smartwatch and don’t give a shit about the latest smartphone releases. Indeed, I use my phone to write, read and take photos (again, photography). Phone calls and text messages are usually related to work or conversing with the same four or five people. So, do I really love technology or do I just get a small buzz out of the little things I have? Probably the latter. Let’s move on.
Film, comedy and stories. I have tried writing some scripts and enjoyed it but it is a hard graft when writing multiple characters alone. So that goes on the back-burner (I have a friend that has shown some interest in writing together, but it can wait). I love the escapism of films and the plot turns, admiring the writing and style (again, the writing). Comedy is a constant though. I watch and study comedians: the timing; the loops; the observation; the absurdity; the anger and frustration; the situations to induce a full belly-laugh. Let’s keep going.
Which leaves travel and photography. I almost become sad when seeing something spectacular and not having a camera to capture that instant forever. But am I good at photography? Probably not. I do receive compliments from friends but am I making the best out of it that I could? No. As too with language. I enjoy writing, I enjoy the art and dedication needed to weave a well-crafted sentence, but would I enjoy it so much if I were to receive a deadline every week to complete a task on a given subject with the conclusion already provided regardless of the narrative? Absolutely not. I write because I enjoy it, no more. I believe the same with travel because it is exciting. When travelling for a year I was exhausted after 6 months. Ten years later when travelling for 4 months, I was exhausted after 3. Can I travel all the time? No, I don’t think so. Doing it sporadically is what makes it special.
And so, whirlwind conclusion time:
Since actions speak louder than words, I will search for some medium-level photography courses, some English writing courses and place an advert for free advice on interviews, development and leadership. None of the above I feel I will pursue individually as a career apart from that in leadership and developing others. But combining them all? Yes, it can be done. I could relate stories of my travels, showcasing my photography to illustrate them and write about them in the context of learning, development and leadership. Standing up in front of an audience of 200 and exposing myself (steady) in terms of vulnerability of what I’ve learnt in terms of my limits and mental health, making terrible jokes and relating good stories? That scares the shit out of me if I’m honest, which is why I think I should do it.
Occasionally in life, events occur that question integrity. For anyone in a public standing or governmental role, your integrity is your livelihood . . . unless you’re a politician, then it’s everyone else’s integrity that needs to be tweeted about but yours. Other times, when your own integrity is questioned, especially by someone else, well . . . I’ve found that absolutely damning.
For me integrity is everything: it decides your brand; how you live life; and how you treat others. For someone to query that is to question your moral fibre, your decency as a trustworthy human being. I have a fantastic book on quotations and so I went searching, and surprised that I didn’t find anything positive – all seemed to cater for those walking away from morals and integrity instead of embracing them indefatigably. It seems that the more people there are the more the moral waters can be muddied, to quote Aldous Huxley ‘the quality of moral behaviour varies in inverse ratio to the number of human beings involved’. That’s the definition of mob rule, right there. If one person thinks something outlandish then you can sit them on a stool and throw slippers at them, but the more people agree with it, the more people believe in it, and you’re soon running out stools and slippers. Before you know if you’ve started a cult, and together people start to summon the bravery to perform outstanding acts of butchery and barbarity on their fellow inhabitants of this fair earth. Either that or they open up a slipper store.
Morals also change with circumstance. What may be abhorrent now can change pretty quickly given some dire straits. Whilst many would never countenance stealing, I don’t think I’ve met a single person alive that hasn’t picked an apple or orange from a tree they don’t own or eaten a grape from a supermarket. There are levels, I would surmise, that people are happy with – especially if they can get away with it. At the other extreme, if you think you’d never kill someone, just be thankful you’ve never been put in the situation where you had to. For mothers and fathers out there, many wouldn’t hesitate wiping out anyone from the face of the earth in favour of their own child when put to the sword. This then paints an entirely different picture, and to quote Erica Jong (it’s a good quotation book, what can I tell you!), ‘morals are like roads through the alps: they make these hairpin turns all the time’. So do our morals unravel like a spool of cotton with the slightest pressure or outside exertion? Well that’s up to you: whilst your morals tell you what’s right and wrong, your integrity is whether you stick to it.
One of the many things my parents taught me was compassion. This mostly dealt with compassion for others with the assumption that I would have compassion for myself – an incorrect supposition it turned out! But I’ve gradually gotten there and am trying to be easier on myself. But the compassion for others still remains, yet sometimes that compassion is undeserved.
As I meet more people around the world, extending my networks of friends, I meet a lot of people with conviction. Sometimes it’s conviction that is short term like travelling to Macchu Picchu for example, sometimes longer term such as walking the length of the earth or cycling the Pan-American, other times its writing a book or starting a business, but the essence is that you do what you’ll say you’ll do. You decide you want to achieve something and you do it. Compassion comes into play when unforeseen circumstances prevent the immediate completion of the task at hand, but one way or another, if someone says they’re going to do something, I expect it to be done. Increasingly though, this doesn’t happen. For your mental health, this can only be detrimental.
The task at hand doesn’t have to be as inspirational as climbing Everest, completing a four-minute mile or being a millionaire by the time you’re thirty years old <Ed – are you pretending you’re less than thirty now?>, yet even something as simple as dieting or exercise people still find excuses for. I don’t have the time, I don’t have the money, I don’t have the . . . conviction. If you want to be healthier and lose weight, change your diet and go for a walk on occasion. That’s all you need to do – this is even more prevalent given that once again Steptember is upon us. If you want to learn another language then you have to study, if you want to write you have to start writing. Just don’t make excuses. There are back problems and foot problems and hatred of a salad problems that cause people to step back and choose an easier path. And I think that’s the true nature of it. It is easier to make excuses than have the will power and conviction to see your goals become reality.
Don’t make excuses for yourself, start making things happen for yourself.
My current organisation, along with almost every large company in Australia, has embarked on a huge digitisation and automation program, and in turn reducing labour across the business by as much as a quarter. So what the hell then is digitisation and automation?
Essentially process improvement by a fancier name. Earnst & Young have a great paper on it, which makes me think that E&Y, KPMG and the like just dreamt it up, branded is with something new and whacked the concept out to the market. It’s like spruiking the best private fire brigade in the business whilst your subsidiary offers discount Molotov cocktails.
Digitisation is the natural progression of everything technology: the only people that fill out forms any more are the people that want the product i.e. you and me. Great examples of digitisation are things such as barcodes that enable you to scan almost anything and it will tell you all the vital details. No more looking things up on a database, it’s all done for you. Another would be paying by credit card instead of using actual money – why carry around all those notes and spare coins when one card does it all? When you think about it, it’s everywhere.
The human only needs to deal with the crap that can’t be met with the business rules, which they’re trying to automate to reduce the amount of work that person has to do. A prime example would be driving, which up until about ten years ago was pure fancy. And yet! Accidents on the roads caused by humans means huge slow-downs in productivity (kinematic wave equations for traffic illustrate those magic traffic jams for no reason whatsoever), yet if all cars are talking to one another, they could all go at the maximum speed limits. In the corporate world it’s generally the automation of moving data from one system to another, especially if the company is large and old.
So there you go, down with the human, long live the technology! No humans mean no labour costs, no sick pay, no pension plan, no weekend rates and no one getting pregnant. An employer’s dream! And that’s where the universal minimum wage comes in. Maybe. But it will all be down to the individual and whether as humans we cock the entire thing up or we march towards progress making our lives less burdensome, enabling us to take up more activities to waste time. Whilst I would welcome the automated car (I could get some reading done, how wonderful), I have a friend that has spent hundreds of dollars automating the lights in the house. I’ll keep the switch for now, putting my book made of paper down and get off my ever increasing wobbly-bottom to turn it on. But progress is coming, look out behind you!
Writing and writing...