I’ve been using LinkedIn a lot lately, and one of the features I particularly like using is the ‘Recommendations’. You basically get to say nice things about someone you’ve worked with – a professional compliment on their awesomeness and expertise. You can give them to anyone in your network, or ask anyone in your network to give you one.
The thing I’ve noticed about recommendations though, is that not many people seem to have them. And even if they have some, it’s usually only one or two from their network of hundreds!
Does that mean they aren’t awesome people? No, not at all – they are fantastic people who do great work.
Many of us try to avoid being hurt emotionally or physically. Avoiding saying “I love you” first, because of the fear that we’ll be rejected and hurt. Not voicing creative ideas in business meetings because of the fear of being ridiculed by your colleagues. Not inviting the cool kids to the party, because of the fear you’re not cool enough for them to care about coming. Telling your friends you have it all sorted and know what you’re doing next with your life, when in fact you’re a bit lost and looking for new directions. Getting all defensive and closed off when your spouse challenges you, because you don’t want to be perceived as weak and imperfect. Shunning taking charge and being responsible, because of the fear you might fail.
The ways we shut ourselves off from vulnerability are countless.
I watched a fascinating Ted Talk recently from teacher and psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth. There she outlined what separates a successful student who is able to achieve, from another who can’t quite hit their potential. It turned out that studies have proven it isn’t IQ level, family income/home situation, race, gender … it all comes down to one little, not often-mentioned quality – grit.
Gritty students are determined to achieve, and so they do. Same with people in corporate jobs, pilots-in-training … no matter what we set out to do, if we have a decent dash of grit in the mix, then we are much more likely to reach our goals.
So what is grit?
My partner introduced me to the concept of a ‘Control-Complete’ function. It’s what he uses to make sure that everyday tasks are completed mindfully. You ‘control’ the process of doing whatever it is that you’re doing – checking that the quality is good, the correct steps are being followed, you’re engaged and focused, and once it’s done, you make sure it is properly completed – perhaps you made dinner, but did dishes end up rinsed and in the dishwasher? You had that meeting, but did you send a follow-up email? With Control-Complete, it’s only when a task has been executed properly and closed off with all the boxes ticked that you can move on.
To me, this is being conscientious. Continue reading
Like most developed country dwellers, I am able to afford anything I need to live a basic, happy and healthy life. Despite having all I need, I used to feel a need to preserve what I have, that I should be more thrifty, and more thoughtful with my giving to others and myself. A feeling of unease, of concern was creeping up in times when my bank account has been shrinking the third month in a row, even though I was doing what I am passionate about, and even though I knew this would happen when I decided to leave my corporate job.
However, I am not convinced that a tight grip on one’s money, and more thrifty and resource-constrained behavior is the solution to the problem. Rather than confirming to the world around you that you have anything you need, this behavior just creates vibes of scarcity and therefore interrupts the flow of resources and wealth to you. Continue reading
Back in the stone age the next task was often predetermined by bare necessity. When people had not much choice but to go hunting when hungry or rebuild the roof of their huts immediately after the storm, there was little need for formal systems to bring order and organisation to the task of daily life. But our times are different, we have secured our immediate needs and hence over-ridden immediate necessity as an organising force. On most days we have choice what to do and when to do it.
You know the days when you sit in front of your computer to start working and you’re not exactly sure what to do first? On these days I usually end up checking my email and distracting myself with all sorts of minuscule tasks – reading blog posts, checking the wave forecast, and entertaining my mind with random facts and pieces of information. Doing all this creates the illusion of productivity. I spend two hours on the internet without really getting things done – I start feeling unproductive and crave a coffee as I feel my energy level decreasing. But really, how could I feel productive when I have not clearly specified what it is I wanted to get done and in which order. I am not organised, therefore I am not feeling I am doing the things I should be doing.
Being organised is not only making you more productive, you also feel more productive which makes your work or whatever you’re doing a whole lot more satisfying. Continue reading
Our roots are wild.
We’re descended from explorers, trail-blazers, hunters and foragers, pioneers, people who worked the land, faced down challenges, and had never heard of insurance.
It’s easy to forget that though when you’re sitting in an air-conditioned office on a padded chair, with only mental stimulus and your ready-made supermarket dinner waiting in the fridge at home.
Society wants to keep us tame, manageable, and easy to predict.
A friend who does a lot of work with charities tells me how businesses need to recognise the importance of being accessible – ‘We live in a diverse world … there’s people with disabilities, people from different cultures, speaking different languages – if businesses aren’t consciously making themselves accessible, they shut themselves off from thousands of potential customers.’
Apparently savvy organisations are setting budgets aside specifically for becoming more accessible.
I see the business sense in this. As I sit listening to her, I start to wonder how accessible I am.
Do people feel like they can approach me? Does my communication style cater for all different types of people from different walks of life? Am I the kind of person that others want to connect with, work with, do life with?
There is a certain kind of person whose company make me feel more alive, somehow more energised. I’ve been thinking about who these people are in my life and what they do and don’t do in order to better understand what makes a great energy giver … Continue reading
Sometimes I wonder if comfortable modern life is making us soft and prone to suffer when confronted with adversity. We drive to work and sit in our central-heated office. We take breaks when we think we need them. We exercise irregularly and when we do we go as hard as we comfortably can, because eventually it is us choosing the intensity of what we need to endure. But life’s intensity is not like the resistance regulator on your home trainer, it’s not always free choice. At times we have to deal with adversity that we don’t choose. It is in those situations, when being tough helps you to keep your calm and protect your happiness and joy for life. Continue reading