Everyday Carry – The Bellroy Sling 7 litre

I’m relatively easily pleased. A lot of reviews do a great job of highlighting the pros and cons of products and services. I can get all excited about something, then see a review that highlights a downside I go “back to the drawing board”.

I also like nice things, aka, expensive. So when I spend my money I don’t want to have buyer’s remorse based on the quality or functions of the item. I tend to overthink purchases so much that recently, while doing my usual OCD research into new earphones, my wife got sick of it and just purchased me the AirPods Pro 2. And, lo and behold, they have been fine and I immediately stopped looking at alternatives. Who knew? 🤷‍♂️

I also have items that, once bought, I pay them no more attention other than using them. This means they are functional, meet my expectations and do the job I purchased the item to do.

So, I can be easily pleased and the Bellroy Sling fits that description. It does its job, no more, no less. It has immediately become part of my day both work-wise and, most likely leisure-wise.

So, for others who may be “easily pleased” and don’t need all the technical stuff and just want the question, “Yes, but does it bloody work?” this is for you!

The Bellroy Sling

I purchased the 7 litre sling for AUD149. It’s well made and the zips are great to use with a very solid and comforting mechanism, meaning they don’t feel cheap or about to break. They may “free up” over time with more use but I like them the way they are.

Inside

The sling has two compartments with some pockets with each. Both compartments are quite large and I can fit a surprising amount in, should I need/want to.

One compartment has a zipped pocket with a softer inner lining that holds my glasses. The way I wear the sling, with the leather Bellroy logo facing out, the glasses are closest to my body which adds further protection from being bumped into or hitting something inadvertently. This compartment also has a key chain to hold your keys. The length is short and some have commented it is too short. I don’t find that, I just need access to the keys, which this provides. 

See? Easily pleased.

The other, outer compartment, has two “pouches” rather than zipped pockets to hold smaller items. Super handy. I’ll talk about what I carry shortly.

The Strap

This is one area I was concerned about, as the strap has a magnetic connection. All the reviews I saw said the magnet was strong but I was doubtful. I shouldn’t have been. It takes a bit of force to separate the magnets so I’m very happy with the mechanism. In every day life, if the magnets separated, it would have to get jagged on something pretty hard, and that obviously, lets me know it’s happened and I can take care of it. No issue, don’t even think about it.

The strap can also be lengthened and shortened to your hearts desire. I’m 5’10” or 178cm and I have room to spare to lengthen it further and also shorten it if I want to. 

What Going On Inside?

One thing I need to mention is that I got this to replace my backpacks. I rarely carry my laptop anymore and if I need to I will still use them. But my work set up is pretty flexible so I’m rarely lugging it around.

In the outer compartment I carry odds and ends:

  • my work pass
  • a tab of paracetamol (just in case)
  • iPhone cable
  • Ruler (I like to be neat but I’m using physical notebooks less and less)
  • Pens (Uni-Ball Jetstream 250 Rollerball Pen 0.7mm – Black)
  • Airpods Pro case

The inner compartment (closest to me)

  • Sunglasses
  • Notebook (Leuchtturm1917) or
  • Ipad mini 6
  • 500ml water bottle
  • House/work keys on keychain

I don’t jam it full of stuff as that would defeat the purpsoe of a minimalist carry (for me, you do you!).

A note on protection for the iPad mini. I often forget the iPad is in there and just sling the bag down. It’s not onto anything too hard and it’s not a whack on the floorboards we have but just so you know, the mini is fine and the sling does provide a level of protection, not the level of a padded laptop bag though. 👍

In Summary

As I said above, this does the job in such a way that I don’t “notice” it. Which is exactly what I am after.

There are smaller and larger slings, based on your preference. 

I may be easily pleased but I need tools that get the job done without too much fussing and fighting. This does that for me. Couldn’t be happier.

Go here to check them out. No affiliation. Bellroy don’t know about this article and have no idea who I am.

Why I’m NOT Reading 52 Books this Year!

Or 100 for that matter!

I have no issue with people reading eleventy hundred books in a year. I’ve tried that in the past (and failed if you need to know). I think anyone who takes up the reading habit is on to something.

I remember when my kids were young, if they did one thing in life, they would be readers and learners. They both are. Job done! 

This year I’m reading  … just seven books … over and over!

I’ve read so many books in the past and have learned a lot from most of them. I know the learnings are there, in my mind … somewhere … but they are not benefiting me.

In life, we don’t forget anything, we simply fail to remember.

– Me!

This year I’m going to slow down a bit, reflect, take notes and learn to my benefit. I want the information from these books to be ingrained. (Links below are affiliate links but if you are keen to read them I don’t care how you access them.)

Atomic Habits (James Clear) – I’ve read this book a couple of times and the process is worth keeping top of mind. I want to quickly flick into good habits when things get out of sorts, as they inevitably will in life. We have one life, building constructive habits is essential.

Smart Talk (Lou Tice) – before neuroscience became popular, there was Lou and The Pacific Institute (there were others, of course). Lou talks through how our self talk can improve with timeless truths and tactics. We are so ingrained with the thoughts and beliefs of others we took on as we grew up that do not serve our well. There are ways to take control and enjoy time in our minds. Lou gives us step by step guidance.

The Power of Now (Eckhart Tolle) – took me years to buy this after knowing about it. I had no idea what it was really. Finally bit the bullet and got it after a manager recommended it to me. Read it once, then again and then again. Took notes, looking forward to a couple more reads this year.

The Art of Possibility (Rosamund and Ben Zander) – the best personal development book I have ever read (and I have read many). This was my give away book a few years ago. Bought ten copies, gave them away to friends and colleagues. Unfortunately, I lent my original copy full of personal notes and ideas to someone who then lost it.

Guide to the Good Life (William B Irvine) – As this was first published in 2009, it was the OG Stoic book to Ryan Holiday’s series. Have read it once and taken notes and highlights. Will read again and do the same. One thing I noticed in the first read was that even though we choose whatever lifestyle we want, others won’t comply and we need to work through that.

The Coaching Habit (Michael Bungay Stanier) – I think it was Seth Giodin who called this the best coaching book ever written. Whoever it was, it was high praise. Eminently practical where coaching or influencing others at work and in relationship (helpfully, not manipulatively) this will be a great “workbook” for me this year.

On the Shortness of Life (Seneca) – this is my “bathroom book”. Shorts reads on a daily basis but there is a passage starting on page 74 that had quite the impact. Will take it out of the bathroom this year and make it a deeper study.

Let me know what books you are reading this year … and for what purpose if you like.

I’d be keen to know!

Leadership: Selfish vs Self-ish

A good friend of mine left work this week and it is going to be difficult to replace her.

She was a great mentor and leader. She displayed behaviours about what a great leader can be. The whole team looked to her as a leader, a friend and someone they could rely on for her technical expertise.

She didn’t see herself this way but…

it is the team who defines who and what a great leader is, not the leader!

Me!

This made me start thinking about leaders and leadership, as I often do, and comparing a good leader with a lesser leader. And whilst there are many variations of leadership within the business world, and within the world in general, I’ve come down to two distinctions between leaders and their effectiveness within the context of the teams they work with:

Selfish Leaders versus Self-ish Leaders

A selfish leader is leading purely for themselves, for their own growth, development, recognition, and ego.

The self-ish leader also wants to succeed, very much so, but works with and through the team and relationships rather than just being “the Boss!”

The Self-ish Leader

A Self-ish Leader achieves their goals through the results of their team.

They will work on their team’s skills, knowledge and attitudes to help their people achieve their goals, seemingly at the cost of working on themselves and affecting their personal results.

However, this is not completely true. It isn’t all about the team. The leader needs to develop their communication, coaching and difficult conversation skills as well as an ongoing list of other skills in order to develop their team. This may be letting people go, ongoing performance management and engaging with difficult team members and difficult customers.

The leader is constantly developing.

Simply by helping their team succeed, they will be developing themselves as a leader and achieving the results required.

In addition, by developing their team, they will, on average, have a better retention rate. A better retention rate means less recruitment, greater productivity and better morale as the team gets to know and learn from each other. Upwards and onwards…

Signs of Self-ish Leaders. Team members will:

  • Willingly follow their Self-ish Leaders, not just because they are the Boss
  • Provide greater discretionary effort — their efforts are appreciated and acknoweldged, performance gaps are coached
  • Have a bias towards action – they want to succeed and have an innate sense of not wanting to let the team, or the Leader, down.

The Selfish Leader

A selfish leader, focusing on themselves, approaches things differently. It’s about how good they can look. The team’s results are a reflection on them personally (this is true) but they take it personally. People aren’t “pulling their weight”, people need to be brought into line, and, “If only they did as I told them.”

Lack of results means people are lazy or, as one leader I have worked with put it, “taking the piss”.

In the Selfish Leader world, the leader and the team are “enemies”. Leaders in this realm are there to invoke their version of “world domination”. I heard one newly promoted Team Leader state, “Great, now I can tell people what to do.” There is a semblance of seeing people as colleagues and valuing them but, as time goes on, it becomes “do it my way leadership”.

As this happens, people close up, offer less suggestions and ideas for improvement because the leader “will do it their way anyway.” The irony being, as people shut down, the leader has to do it all themself because no-one is offering better or at the least, other suggestions. All the while the self absorbed, Selfish Leader is oblivious to what is happening.

Signs of Selfish Leaders :

  • Lower productivity: staff will be second guessing themselves as to what the leader wants. Because the leader is insecure about their success or progress, what they want might change regularly.
  • Lessening results: results will fluctuate. There will be good days, weeks and months. But as per the next point, they won’t reach their potential because the rules are always changing, with turnover, team members will be changing, affecting long term results.
  • Higher than industry average turnover: People will put up with a lot but only to a point. Some will stick it out for various reasons (see below), others will make a quick exit while others will wait around and potentially become poorer performers until something comes along, or they hope the situation will improve.

With regards to turnover I was interviewing a Leader about this recently and they smiled and said it was “good turnover’, meaning bad apples were leaving. A couple of points he was oblivious to were:

  1. He hired these people — so maybe the hiring process (and he) needs a review
  2. Regardless of good v bad apples, 50% turnover over an extended period of time (2+ years) is not good for any organization, either from a cost, production perspective but even worse from a customer perspective. A 50% turn over means that, on average, customers are dealing with representatives who know little to nothing about the product they are discussing. This becomes worse when the product is complex. (think insurance, lending, leasing etc).

Another example of a Selfish Leader versus a Self-ish Leader is in daily interactions. I know a few leaders who, as soon as they get into the office, go for a walk to say hello to those who are already there. One leader has people hiding from them, telling others “she is on her way, look busy”. While the other leader has staff wanting to stop and have a pleasant chat.

Signs of a Selfish Leader:

  • People who follow Selfish Leaders do so because they are “the Boss”, they have power over them simply due to their role, not their relationship.
  • There is less discretionary effort — if effort is not genuinely appreciated (staff can tell) the discretionary effort drops off.
  • A bias towards inaction. Selfish Leader will need to come up with “motivators” for staff to take on extra tasks. This is both challenging and energy sapping. Many mature staff members see this is being treated like children.

One last thing

With all the above being from my observations and worth reflecting on, there is one element that is frequently overlooked: the Leader’s Leader.

While we can and should look at Selfish Leaders versus Self-ish Leaders, a lot of it will depend on that Leader’s leader.

If a selfish leader is allowed to continue in their role, their leader is asleep at the wheel. They are not paying attention to the underlying issues of ongoing problems like turnover, constant requests for more staff to deal with customer service issues and suffering metrics.

And that could be because the Leader’s leader is also a selfish leader and not a self-ish leader.

What do you think?

  • Have you worked for a selfish leader?
  • What strategies have you used to manage these environments?
  • What are the benefits of working for a selfish leader?

I’d be keen to hear your thoughts.

Thank you for reading.

Just Use This App!

Time Saving! Game Changing!
Photo by David Bares on Pexels.com

I’ve had this app on my phone forever. It has got progressively better with each iteration so that now, it can pretty much replace my typing.

I’ve never used it in this way before, but it just dawned on me that it was possible and it relieves so much resistance to sitting down and typing!

When the need arises, the tool appears*.

I’ve recently started a YouTube channel and I need to write scripts and ideas for the channel. Not being much of a touch typist, this was a real barrier. So much so, that I am learning to touch type, and will continue to learn, even with this app.

I was going to type this article about a tool that saves you from typing. 🙄

The app is Apple Notes! Its dictation skills have improved out of sight that it can now record me for as long as I am talking, which for me, is a lot!

The Blank Page

When I stare at a blank page, I can get myself to just start typing but it is often a bunch of words that can’t seem to get coherently from my mind to the page. So it starts as a draft and ends as a (very short) draft.

So many drafts! 😞

This then, is the game changer for me. I can see my words on the page, and I can talk for as long as I like. I can go off on tangents as ideas hit me from all sides. I can explore analogies and arguments that I find worth considering. It can all come pouring out and I find I self-edit far less, if at all.

The blank page dilamma becomes a thing of the past.

That doesn’t mean everything I transcribe is worth publishing. But keeping the information and occasionally going back to review my ramblings can trigger an idea worth pursuing.

Happy(ier) Days

As my wife came home last night, I was finishing off some dictation. She asked me, “Who was that?”, thinking I was on a call. I find that as I dictate, I relax and it becomes conversational. I can let the thoughts roam free. Again, little to no self-editing. I capture everything and can then edit from a vast resource later.

The other benefit, especially for me, is that dictating assumes elocution. The text on the page/app clearly shows how well I am pronouncing my words lets me know if my elocution is poor. It helps me think more about the words and how to enunciate them which will help, I hope, in my presentations on YouTube.

Starting from Square Two

This lowers my barrier to entry. It gives me a head start.

Where typing was the barrier as I know I would have to type and correct, type and correct, this makes the process quicker, allowing me to be more creative and expansive in my thoughts.

If typing is your kryptonite and you haven’t tried dictation, I’d seriously consider giving it a go. Apple Notes has come along in leaps and bounds and comes with every iPhone (who knew? 🤷‍♂️). 😂

If you are after something different, there is also Just Press Record. I have this as well but with the new Apple Notes functions, I’m not sure I will use it as much. I’ll have to run a comparison.

What about you?

Do you use Apple Notes or Just Press Record to dictate your articles?

  • What problems does it solve for you?
  • Is there another, better app, I need to know about?

Let me know!

Thank you for reading!


*A poor effort at adapting the better saying:

When the student is ready, the master appears!

Give Yourself an ‘A’

How to get the thing you want!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This is a real rule breaker for some. You can’t just give yourself an A. You have earn your ‘A’. But bear with me as I walk you through quite a powerful formula for achieving a goal or a series of achievements.

How Does This Work?

We’ve all heard of goal setting. This is goal setting in reverse.

‘Giving an A’ is projecting into the future about a significant goal or achievement that is important to you as though you have already achieved it.

It could be any number of things. You then work backwards to determine all the things you ‘did’ to ensure you achieved the goal.

Once you’ve done that, take one step at a time, on those things that you expect to help you achieve your goal.

As you progress, things may change but if the goal is significant enough, you’ll take the time to adjust your direction, activities and attitudes to keep you heading towards your goal.

Here’s the kicker: The time frame you have set for achieving your goal will pass. The date will arrive. Nothing surer! Will you be tracking along with that timeline?

What’s your goal?

Let’s assume it is six months in the future and you have, indeed, received your “A”.

Imagine for a moment how that feels.

  • You’ve got your driver’s licence for the first time
  • You’ve lost that nagging couple of kilos
  • You’ve presented the pitch and won

Don’t skip this part. Imagine, in the future, receiving your reward: physical, mental and/or emotional.

(By the way, it’s good to define the reward too. It may be the thing itself (losing weight, getting the license) or it may be something you reward yourself with for achieving the goal (a holiday, a new thing you’ve always wanted).

Now start writing down all the things you ‘did’ to increase the chances of the ‘A’ being achieved. This can range from simple tasks (losing weight = walk/run 4km per day for 30 days (my current goal)) to taking a course and applying the key methods learnt in the course and getting feedback from a respected peer, manager, significant other.

You can do this in one of two way (maybe there’s more, let me know in the comments). You start at the end, just before the goal is achieved and work backwards.

Or, you can work forwards, taking small steps at the start to help build momentum. As James Clear said in his post today, “plan what you can do on your worst day, make it that simple!”

Take the time to plan it out. It doesn’t have to be hundreds of steps.

Another goal of mine is to learn to touch type. My goal each day is to type for “15+1”. That is, on day one I touch typed for 15 minutes. On day two it was 16 minutes (15+1) and so on. By the time 30 days is up, I am typing 45 mins per day which, I hope, will actually see me touch type more than “hunt and peck!” I am so looking forward to that level of productivity.

A note on planning: While above I have said to plan it out and I believe that is important, you may not know all the steps at first. That is okay. Lou Tice (and many others), founder of The Pacific Institute used a phrase: “Set the goal, invent the “how””. You may not know all the steps at the start. Start with a clear goal and figure to the “first of first” steps.

I work within a project framework at work and while we plan out the project step by step as much as we can, the number of changes made along the way are innumerable. No-one is upset by that, we all expect it to be the case.

If your goal is to begin a meditation practice, it might start with getting up at 5am every day (pick a time best for you) and meditate for one minute, then two, then three.

Think of your goal and work backwards, Remember you are going to be an ‘A’ student at the end of this.

The Added Benefit

The added benefit of working in this manner is we begin to act and think like ‘A’ students. Even if we have never been one.

It is quite amazing the things you will allow and not allow once you fix your mind on the goal.

I recently decided to not buy coffee at work. I was spending something like $200 per month on purchased coffees. Many for me, and many I bought for others, so may it was about $300 per month. Add that up and you’re looking around $4,000 per year on coffee!

So, in acting like an ‘A’ student in this area, I had to change my thoughts, language and behaviour. From being known at work as someone who will regularly buy coffee, I had to lower that profile. I also had to find ways of not buying the others were. I could head out with them for the social aspect but not buy a coffee and not allow them to buy me one either – as that set the expectation I would reciprocate. Which I would because it would be awkward not to.

The benefit isn’t in becoming a cheapskate who never buys coffee, it’s more than that. It’s learning how I want to behave, how I turn up at work and manage my relationships with great colleagues through a period of transition.

How do I feel each time I’m asked if I want a coffee? What will I say? Will I offend some? Do I just tell them straight out, “I’m not buying coffee for a month”?

What if I screw up?

Restart!

A goal isn’t lost completely based on a couple of backwards steps. In his book Psycho-Cybernetics, Maxwell Maltz said a habit begins to form around the 21 day mark. That is beginning to form as in, not set in stone. This takes time.
It’s like year 12 students being told their final exam is the most important thing they’ll do in their lives. (at least here in Australia)

And so…
Giving yourself an A is a liberating exercise. Because you get to choose what you want the A to be about. You have total control over that.

Set the goal and invent the “How”!

Write down the goal, read about it every day. I find when I do that it is easier to maintain the momentum towards the goal. When I don’t do that, I lose momentum and, if I miss long enough, I forget about the goal itself.

Here’s a tool I use when I interview candidates for a role (or am interviewed for a role):

STAR: Situation, Task, Actions, Result or, if you’re working backwards from the goal: RATS!

  • Situation – where you find yourself and not having the “Thing” – the goal.
  • Task – the overall activities you need to do to achieve the Thing!
  • Actions – mini tasks. What do you need to do to complete each Task, if there are multiple.
  • Result– the Goal or the Thing.

Lastly …
If I was figuring out the goal prior to starting the STAR approach, I’d describe the goal in as much detail as I could.

For example:
GOAL: I want to lose weight (actually x kg, be specific). I want to lose weight because … and away you go describing in as much detail for you how good this is going to be, why you want to do it and the benefits you’re going to enjoy.
And then…

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Actions
  • Result.

Not Happy!

I feel like you’re average mechanic!

Photo by Stephan Streuders on Pexels.com

You know the story about the mechanic, it can apply to gardeners as well.

Everyone else’s car (or garden) is immaculate while the mechanic’s car is a bit dodgy, and the gardener’s garden could do with some TLC.

That’s how I’m feeling at the moment. Not great!

I could go on a “poor, poor pitiful me” but who really cares? I mean that genuinely. We’re all going through something. I’m just publishing it.

There are two reasons I’m writing this:
  1. I’m learning to touch type and one of my goals is to practice for 15 minutes every day. And increase that by one minute every day for 30 days. Meaning by day 30, I will be touch typing for at least 45 mins every day. It may mean, by that time, I will be touch typing full time.
  2. The second reason is I want to write a post per day for the next 30 days as part of a plan to reignite some energy and momentum in my day. This will also help with the practice of touch typing.
The Next 30 Days

I’ve decided to add some other items to the list for the next 30 days. The category in brackets is the primary area I hope to benefit.

  • Drop 10kg – this is more an outcome of some other actions below (Health)
  • Touch typing as mentioned above (Productivity)
  • Consume no sugar and no grains (Health)
  • Run 4km per day – this may be a brisk walk as I acquired a couple of blisters yesterday when trying some new shoes (Health)
  • Blog post every day as mentioned above (Hobby)
  • Purchase no new things – there is one purchase I need to make, I’ll share what and why once it is complete (Finances)
  • Do not purchase shop coffee – this will be a significant challenge (Finances)
  • No alcohol – also a bit of a challenge as I so like a nice red (Health)
  • Finish reading a textbook – Transcend by Scott Barry Kaufman (Education)
  • Finish reading a novel – The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky (Recreation)
  • Journal every day – this post is a result of this morning’s journal (Health)
  • Practice Active Constructive Responding (Relationships)

This may seem like a lot to take on. Perhaps it is, but many of these things are common, every day things that simply need focus and attention.

I have typed this as best I can by touch typing so I can tick that off for today. And as this is a blog post, that has been accomplished as well.

Tomorrow will be an update on my progress, how I’m feeling and what changes I’m sensing.

We are what we eat!

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

There are a number of ways to be happy. But all the ways I can think of have one thing in common: the present.

You can’t be happy in the past: it’s over. (Yes, you can be happy with the past!)

You can’t be happy in the future: it’s not here yet! (Yes, you can look forward to your future!)

But you can only be happy … now! Even when the future finally arrives, it transmogrifies into … now!

And, with that massive scientifically proven statement, let’s look at a facet that can affect our happiness.

What we consume.

I’m not talking about food but information.

A topic like this can go off on all sorts of tangents and we are all individuals so not every tangent will apply to everyone.

Let’s bring it back to ourselves. The rest of this article is for you to think about you! It has really made me think about the information I consume.

Is what we are consuming adding to our happiness, our contentment, our goals? Or is it debilitating?

I have a really good Twitter feed. The people I follow are inspirational and positive for the most part, many are quite witty and I enjoy their content. Some go off on rants then apologise then rant again. (I mute them for a while. Like sending them to the naughty corner! 😉)

But I’ve begun to notice my mood as I scroll through the feed, the same on Instagram. Am I being fed? Am I leaving the feed better than when I started? That is what I’d like to happen. Selfish? Possibly! But it’s my life and I want to be happy, content and satisfied for as much time as I can. Don’t you?

As Marcus Aurelius is often quoted, which also applies to our media based interactions:

When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

So the tough times, awkward situations and difficult people are going to occur. Why would I not seek to control what I consume if I can?

(To be fair, the people I work with are some of the best people I have ever worked with, so, there is that! 😀)

Even reading inspirational posts can leave you dissatisfied (I could never do that! It must be wonderful for them. If only I had the willpower!) We start off full of enthusiasm and then realise maybe we haven’t got what they clearly have!

This is not to say we shouldn’t read great works, and work on improving ourselves. Not at all. But we need to start where we are and not assume or think we get a head start based on someone else’s experience or story. And, sorry to say, are all stories true?

My point about consumption is to be cautious with what we consume. Can we use the information immediately? Can we apply the same rules as the author? I’d dare say, in most cases, no!

What to do

Many people I know, and I have done this, do a regular review of what they are consuming. Turning off the mainstream news is a start. Most of it is negative and many times, sensationalism. (They have their job to do, after all, which is sell information and product.)

And then we can look at our social media feed. Is it feeding you positively? Or is it leaving you a little despondent? Take the time to identify what is causing the downward trend and ask yourself if you need this. Maybe not. Unfollow.

Before I am accused of being a killjoy, I’m not suggesting you cut everything off! Not at all. But I am suggesting we look for those avenues that take us toward what we want a little more carefully.

The TV (or the Demon Box!)

One the areas I have taken to edit is the TV. I don’t think I’m an orphan here. I hear of a lot of shows that dramatise discord and conflict and many enjoy these. My wife included. She loves her crime shows. I admit we did watch Breaking Bad and The Good Wife in their entirety, among others.

Lately, I have decided to not get “caught up” in these types of shows simply because they depict conflict as part of their premise and I don’t need any more of that. I prefer a calming evening. We do watch re-runs of Friends, Big Bang and Brooklyn 99, Spy and I am enjoying the Welcome to Wrexham series.

As I am trying to convey, it’s not about total elimination of TV or other media but the discriminate review of what we consume to improve our mood, outlook and overall well being. As a very specific example, while we enjoy the Friends series, neither my wife and I can watch the episodes with “on again off again Ross and Rachel”. Others love that!

If you are engaged by certain elements of the media and they help you grow and be a better person, go nuts. The opinions above are mine, in an attempt to demonstrate the choices we have to enjoy some peace and solitude when we want it. And to gain control of what we consume to help us access that peace and solitude any time we like.

Just like too much coffee can give you the jitters, perhaps too much consumption of certain media can too. And also like coffee, some can consume coffee late at night and still get a good night’s sleep. Others … can’t! 😵‍💫

As always, you be you!

Not everyone is triggered by the same inputs. And, as I said in my opening, this can go off on many tangents that affect everyone differently. I’ve used examples to help you review your situation to help bring a little more joy and happiness to your “now”.

I hope, in some way, I’ve triggered some positive action for you.

We become what we consume.

As a man (person) thinketh, so is he!

James Allen
The Test

Now you’ve read the paper, it’s time for the test, if you wish to play! 😉

For the next three days, check what you consume and mentally give it a tick or a cross. If you’re really keen, write them down in columns of “good vs evil” – just for fun. After three days, decide what you want to do with your lists!

What Time Is It?

What time would you like it to be?
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com

It’s a cynical view of consultants that they’ll tell you what you want to hear! Not necessarily, what you need to hear.

But what if they are right? What time do you want it to be?

Consider this: the future is literally made up!

Every invention we have today started as a thought, a concept, an idea. Nothing more.

Edison may have been credited with inventing the light bulb but today, the question isn’t, “What light bulbs do you have?” It’s, “What light bulb do you want?”

When I offer to buy someone a coffee, the second question is: “What coffee do you want?” Not everyone wants a long back with cream! 🤷‍♂️

So, what kind of day do you want? If that’s too long term, what would a good hour look like? (Half hour? Moment?)

The point is, going back to the consultant question …

What do you want?

The real challenge for the consultant, and for us, is whether we have the efficacy to bring the goal to pass?

Efficacy: the ability to produce a desired or intended result.

It’s one thing to want a thing. It’s another thing to bring it about.

I would suggest though, that most of us, have that ability.

  • Want a new car? Do you have the ability to save?
  • Want to have a good day? Do you have the ability to plan and stick to a schedule you plan?
  • Want a peaceful demeanour? Do you have the ability to block out calamity?

I’d suggest we all have the abilities. Most of it comes to a choice. To do or not to do. (I seriously didn’t mean to channel Yoda! 🙄)

A lot of this comes down to moments. What will we do in the moment? What is our choice?

My current moment

I’m sitting here having a coffee (long black with cream, if you’re following along) and sourdough! I shouldn’t be having the sourdough for health reasons. Some can, I can’t! But it is so delicious. But there was a moment where I could have decided not to indulge. I chose to do so.

I’ll have the opportunity to choose again tomorrow. One moment at a time.

Back to the beginning
Imagine I am your consultant. You’ve come to me looking for some clarity, some guidance on where t from here.

You ask: “Who and what am I?”
My response: “Who and what do you want to be?”

My “who and what”

I have a list of items I read every day. These are my affirmations. They cover who and what I want to be. They are not true at the moment. They are my goals.

Reading them every day imprints them in my mind. It’s a subtle mechanism to re-orient how I see myself. Maybe that sounds woo-woo. Except it’s based on how the mind works.

Everything we believe about ourselves to be currently true has occurred the same way, either consciously, or subconsciously. The constant imprinting of a belief that becomes true!

James Clear writes about it this way (if you don’t believe me, maybe you’ll believe James! 😉)

In Atomic Habits, he mentions a situation with two smokers (note they are both currently smoking).

They are each offered a cigarette.

One responds with, “No thank you, I’m trying to quit.”

The other? “No thanks, I don’t smoke!”

And so …

The question isn’t, “Who are you?”
The question is, “Who do you want to be?”

And then, like every human invention in history: you make it up!

No Comparions

You be you!

Photo by Amina Filkins on Pexels.com

A quick back story:

Years ago I was in a church where there was the discipline of morning prayer. You could do this at home but, if you were a “disciple”, it was better to be seen at the church building praying, anywhere from 6am to 8am.

The discipline of a morning meditation* was really good. The need to be seen? Not so much. In fact, if you missed attending for a couple of days you got the “didn’t see you at morning prayer, brother!” So there was this expectation and, as young me, there was always the pursuit of trying to be better. Again, nothing wrong with that.

One day, I overheard a friend say he got up at 4am to pray. Holy prayer mats, Batman!

Not to be outdone, I also got up at 4am to pray.

This was hard! Partly because of another church custom: fellowship.

This was coffee and food after church to be friendly to others, encourage each other and build relationships. Another plus for church and similar communities.

But going to bed after 10:30 and getting up at 4am was a tough gig. Not to be deterred, I stuck it out for a couple of weeks. But in the end, it was too much. I had to pack the 4am starts in and try and be a normal person.

A month or so after that, feeling like a failure in my prayer habits and clearly a very unspiritual disciple, I mentioned my efforts to my friend.

He laughed: “You obviously didn’t hear the whole conversation!”

“Oh?”, I responded, wondering what I had missed.

“Yeah, what I was saying was I had got up at 4am one time to try and it was hopeless. It was stupid. I get up at 6:30 every day!”

Needless to say we both had a good laugh!

It’s obvious to say we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others but we tend to do this without thinking.

Here are some things to consider next time you’re scrolling Social Media:
  1. What is their background? What do they bring to the situation you don’t know about?
  2. What do they not say? This isn’t the sin of intentional omission, it could simply be they have information, skills, knowledge they take for granted they wouldn’t even think to share. For example a blogger with experience in journalism.
  3. What effort do they put in that we can’t see? We only get to see the end product in many cases. I like it when people on YouTube give us a behind the scenes look at their set up. It brings a whole lot of context.
  4. Don’t be a literalist. This is taking everything at face value. It becomes a binary argument: this OR that. Rarely is that the case. There are so many shades of grey! (More than 50, I’d say!)
What to do:
  1. What do you admire about the person? Admiration is great, we need role models. What attributes do you see that you would like for yourself. Write them down.
  2. Allow space for yourself. You are not, and cannot, be them. You can be you. What does that mean? Write it down.
  3. What are your goals in this area? Have you defined them clearly? Write them down.
  4. What tasks need to be addressed for you to fulfil #2? (you be you)
  5. What actions can you take to start completing those tasks? When can you do the first of those tasks?
To Finish

Another erroneous comparison I have made.

I follow Yiannis Christodoulou, on Twitter (@Yiannis_83). With 83 being in his profile I assume he is 20 years younger than me. He is quite the accomplished triathlete in his age group. But I assumed he had been doing this since he was a kid. I assumed he’s been brought up swimming, running and riding for decades!

If I compare myself to him, I probably can’t emulate his feats.

Au contraire!

Read his tweet of 4 days ago:

Used with kind permission from Yiannis


He only started swimming 10 years ago! And he started to run! And yet he has achieved so much!

We can be very fickle.

We see people who have made it and we think we can do exactly the same, without knowing their background.

We also see people who are accomplished and we think we can’t emulate them, without knowing their background.

If that isn’t an endorsement for you be you, I don’t on know what is.

Don’t compare yourself to others.

Admire their feats, sure and now start where you are.


*Funny that back then we referred to meditation as new age woo-woo! (Maybe they still do!) 🙄

Also, thanks to Yiannis for allowing me to mention him and his success in his journey!