Five Thoughts on Thinking

It seems strange that I have been doing Five Thoughts for several months now and this the first time it has crossed my mind to do five thoughts on thinking.  As with most of these blogs my thought process was triggered by something I read. My current morning reading of choice is Dave Trott’s One Plus One Equals Three.

If you have read any of Dave’s Trott’s books you will know that he is both thought provoking and entertaining. Half way down a page something he wrote had me reaching for my notebook and make these five observations about thinking.
  1. There is a difference between thinking and daydreaming. Daydreaming, that moment when you let your mind just drift. You are not really thinking, you probably can’t even remember what crossed your mind, if anything. Daydreaming is an aimless activity, nothing wrong with that but it’s not thinking. Thinking has a certain creative and critical element to it and, to my mind at least, it leads somewhere.
  1. “It’s the thought that counts.” I have no doubt you’ve heard that expression actually you’ve probably said it. Normally it’s said when you are given a totally inappropriate gift but you are grateful that at least they thought of you. Not very well obviously for such a crap present. Thinking has to be more than just a fleeting recognition. Thinking must surely lead to doing and some form of doing that makes a difference.
  1. Thinking has surely got to be positive and not negative. The problem with thinking, well over thinking really, is that it can quickly turn to negativity. You think about all the reasons  why something can’t be done. Sometimes just going ahead without over thinking something is the way to go. I am not advocating recklessness but sometimes you just need to think on your feet, solve the problems as you encounter them not as your think about them.
  1. Do less thinking. I have read so many top class performers, actors, athletes, artists etc talk about how they feel at their best when they just do stuff without thinking. When they over think something it all seems to go wrong. Of course they are not making it up as they go along, far from it. That level of achieving without thinking comes from hours and hours of practice and dedication but in that moment of high achievement everything comes naturally. It just flows without conscious thought. What a place to be. If you think you could never reach that level  just remember you probably drive your car without much thought. Not carelessly, it just becomes second nature, natural like breathing.
  1. Think differently. The way we think is probably the result of years of practice. We all get into a certain way of thinking about the world and the way it works. As human beings we like routine. There is safety in routine and I have no doubt we develop thought patterns along the same lines. We think a certain way because that is the way we have always thought. We have always thought that way because we have been taught and have learnt that is the way to think. Maybe we need to UNTHINK. To find another way of thinking. Not sure how you do that but it’s a thought, isn’t it?
The passage from Dave Trott’s book is on age 71 – When Thinking gets in the way
@gordon4video
#FTFT

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Five Thoughts on Failure

No one likes failure but it is an inevitable part of life. You’ll win some, you’ll lose some that is life in a nutshell. I am sure there are people who have experienced way more successes than failures but even they will have to look failure square in the eye.  You may have noticed failure has cropped up a number of times in recent Five Thoughts For Thursday blogs. It’s not that I have had a spell of unremitting failures but my recent reading including the excellent Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed has made me re-evaluate failure, so here are my five thoughts so far.

1. Failure is inevitable. Whoever said “failure is not an option” clearly knew very little about life. There will be times, far more than you’d like, when things just don’t work out. I think accepting failure will come your way is actually a better way to deal with it. If you live a deluded existence where “failure is not an option”, when it does cross your path it is more likely to be a crushing blow. As Rudyard Kipling wrote in his famous poem If,

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;…

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

[Clearly this advice applies to everyone not just the male of the species]

2. You fail you are not a failure. Pretty hard to separate yourself from your failures but failing at something does not make you a failure. It just means you failed at one thing, one time. Next time may be very different. Many people, successful, well rounded people, have failed on numerous occasions but no one would call them a failure. The reason for that is..

3. Failure is an opportunity to learn. Athletes fail all the time. That is the essence of their training. They try something, to run faster, to jump higher or further and most of the time they fail. Each time they fail they learn something new about what it takes to succeed.

4. True success is built on trail and error. Theory is all very well but in the end you have to try something and see if it will work. You may have 100 failures but each one of them will contribute something towards the eventual success. Read any biography of any inventor and you will soon learn that the fantastic product they ended up inventing was really the product of many, many failed attempts.

5. A fear of failure will mean you never really advance.   Some people, maybe even you, are too scared to try anything, to advance anywhere because of the fear of failure. Fear of the failure itself or fear of what people will think of you because of your failure.   I genuinely believe it is better to have tried and failed than to have never tried.  The inevitability of failure is not a licence to be reckless. I am not suggesting you go “gung ho” into a situation. There is still a place for research, planning and, yes, caution but to dwell on all that can go wrong can have a paralyzing effect on you. Anticipate the obstacles, plan how to hurdle them and, most importantly pick yourself up when you’ve hit one.

Here’s to your future success, from one who has failed to another.  Definitely not from one failure to another. Maybe one learner to another.

@gordon4video

#FTFT

FOOTNOTE: I send this blog out via email to my Five Thoughts Mailing List, which you can join by the way. Just fill in your details in the box on the right. Imagine my horror when my copy popped into my inbox with nothing in the email. CLICK HERE TO SEE  Frankly I should have left it as the perfect example of failure, but I learnt my lesson corrected the mistake and sent out the newsletter again. I suppose I should just have left it as a prime example of failure, it’s inevitability and a lesson learnt.

 

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Five Thoughts on Systems

A system is merely a framework to make something or somebody work better.

I think the appeal of a system, any system, is the offer of something that will lead to success but with little input from us. You follow the system rules and hey presto there you go, success. If only.

As anyone who has tried to follow a recipe from a cookbook will know success is not guaranteed. You follow the steps, you measure carefully but somehow yours doesn’t even remotely resemble the glossy picture in the book. I am not against any particular system or method but here are my five thoughts on the subject.

1. Systems should not be ends in themselves. Personally I love Miracle Morning. It has brought so much into my life, but a few weeks ago I realised that it was becoming more important to me than the goals it was designed to help me achieve. Ticking off another day done was the achievement. Sticking to the system should not be the goal, the goal should be beyond the system. Where it is designed to take you.

2. Systems are nothing without commitment. You can’t make anything work unless you are committed. No technique, no rule, no system will achieve anything unless you put in the hard work and commitment. People buy into systems because they want to succeed but they want to succeed without the hard work that usually accompanies it.

3. Systems are best when you use them to evaluate failure. Surely we follow a method to be successful? I am reading Matthew Syed’s book Black Box Thinking. It is a really good read especially when he talks about evaluating failure. Failure is the gateway to success. It seems to me systems work best when they enable you to assess where things went wrong. The safety of the aviation industry is based on the systematic evaluation of the, thankfully, few failures.

4. There is no golden key system, seriously there isn’t. There are methods that work for some people and not for others. It is easy to get sucked in with the sales patter that tells you, “follow this and you will earn thousands and be the person you want to be.” am sure there are people who have used a system and made it work for them but that does not mean it is foolproof.

5. Find what suits you. I have found a method or a system that works for me that doesn’t mean it will work for you. We are all individuals and it make take some trial and error to find something that suits you and your aspirations.

However you choose to move into your future, whatever method or system you choose to get you there, it can only work if you put in the hard yards and are committed for the long term.

#FTFT

@gordon4video

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Five Thoughts For Thursday – Five things changing my life

In early 2016 I reached a point where I decided to work towards a considerable improvement in my health and general well being. Here are the five things that are changing me for the better.

 

  1. Miracle Mornings. I had seen the book, Miracle Mornings by Hal Elrod mentioned numerous times  on social media. I had also heard about the concept from a Ted Talk I had watched. I decided to buy the book and see what all the fuss was about. I don’t think I had any intention of doing anything about it, after all, I was not a morning person. It’s not a long book and it’s a good read. The basic premise is that you get up earlier than you normally would and practice a number of disciplines. Through this discipline  you will change your life around. I won’t go into all the details, you can buy the book for those, but suffice it say it has turned my life around. I would need another much longer blog post to explain how it has but take my word for it, it has. I have read many self improvement book but this is the first one I have read and put into practice.
  2. The Eight Week Blood Sugar Diet. Another book this time By Dr Mike Mosley  I read a newspaper article which mentioned this book. The article was the story of a man with type two diabetes who used this diet not only to lose weight but reverse his diabetes. i was sufficiently intrigued to buy not only this book but two other related books. I needed to lost weight and I wanted to kickstart the process.  At first glance this diet seems really severe. It is backed up by solid research and evidence and has worked for countless people. So I embarked on an eight week diet. Not only am I losing substantial amounts of weight I am learning about how I can eat better in the future.
  3. Yoga. One of the disciplines of the Miracle Morning is exercise. I had already begun taking my dogs for a brisk morning walk but I wanted something more. Something that would help me build muscle and give me some much needed flexibility. Following the example of Ryan Giggs I chose yoga. I was offered all kinds of books and DVDs and the odd class but I decided I wanted to plough my own furrow, I searched YouTube and came across Sean Vigue and his Yoga for Dudes workout. Perfect. I found the perfect beginner routine for me. The exercises have improved my posture and flexibility and I can’t imagine starting the day without my ten minute yoga routine.
  4. Fitbit. I initially bought the Fitbit to monitor my heart rate but now I use it for so much more. Not only does it record my exercise but it motivates me to do more. There is a saying, “What can’t be measured doesn’t exist.” It’s easy to fool yourself into thinking you have been more active than you have. My Fitbit encourages my by showing me how much exercise I have done and motivates me to walk that little bit further or take the stairs rather the lift.
  5. Reading. I have been an avid reader for most of my life but for some reason I stopped reading quite as much. I decided to change this and made reading part of my morning routine as well as making time for reading at other times of the day. It’s amazing how quickly you can get through a book when you set aside time time to read. I make a point of reading a chapter or two a day rather just when I have the urge to read. I also take notes and when I have finished a book I go back through them. I do this to review what I have read and see if there is any action I should take as a result. All to easy to nod in agreement with a section of a book and do nothing about it.

So there you have it, five things that are changing my life. They are all interlinked of course, one wouldn’t really exist without the other. Without them my life would be very different.

 

#FTFT

@gordon4video

 

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Five Thoughts For Thursday about Creativity

On most of my online biographies you will see me described as a “creative”. There are, of course, those who would say creative is a verb and not a noun. You can be creative, you can be a creative. I describe myself as a creative because I create in video form. I pursue a life of creativity, which sounds unbelievably pompous. I did though begin to think about what it means to be creative and what does it mean when people ask you to “surprise us, be creative”.
  1. Creative Carte Blanch. When a client gives you an open brief and asks you to be creative and surprise almost certainly that is not what they want you to do. Go ahead, create something completely out of left field and see their reaction. It probably won’t be the one you were hoping for. Coming up with something completely new does not mean abandoning their, no doubt hard won, brand recognition. It’s about being creative within what is already known and exists.
  2. Creativity is not plucked out of thin air. No doubt somebody somewhere has been hit with the metaphorical lightening bolt of inspiration. Coming up with an idea that has truly never been done before. I think that scenario is as rare as hens teeth. People who are really creative are those who are immersed in creativity in general and the creativity of their chosen discipline in particular. If you want to be a good writer you must read, to be a good film maker you need to watch the masters of the art at work. No creativity takes place in or emerges from a vacuum.
  3. One person’s creativity is another shrug of the shoulders. True, there are some objective criteria on which something could be judged but generally we respond subjectively. “Do I like it” or in the words of ex England manager Graham Taylor, “Do I not like that.” If some people do like your effort or indeed hate it, it does not mean what you have created is without merit. Just not to them at that moment.
  4. No one has a monopoly on creativity. I describe myself as a creative but there are people for whom creative is a job title. “I’m the chief creative at XYZ Agency”.  Having a creative does not mean other people can’t be creative because they can. There are some people who would be quick to say they haven’t a creative bone in their body.  It might not be their prime skill but they can still have creative thoughts. People say they could never write a book because they have no imagination. Yet millions of people every week construct an elaborate story of wealth, super cars, large houses and holidays every week. Only to see it dashed as soon as they checked heir lottery ticket.
  5. Creativity is never easy. Brilliant ideas emerge from the battlefield of creative hit and miss.
@gordon4video
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Five Quotes that inspired me this week

I have started reading a self improvement book. The title is a little bit immaterial but generally speaking it involves getting up early and having a good long look at yourself. For a variety of reasons I needed to get my life back on track, or at least back onto a different track. Inevitably I have come across a number of quotes from the great and the good of self improvement. So here are the five that stood out.

  1. Life’s too short” is repeated often enough to be a cliche, but this time it’s true. You don’t have enough time to be both unhappy and mediocre. It’s not just pointless, it’s painful  Seth Godin. Having has a glancing blow with my own mortality I decided I didn’t want to be either, unhappy or mediocre. It’s a good job this quote was at the beginning of the book as it inspired me to read the rest of it.  
  2. “Thanks for being on my team.” – not a quote I found in a book but in an email to me. Encouragement is so important in life. Six words and the sentiment behind them made my day. I felt I belonged, my work was validated and it inspired me to look further up the road.
  3. “You gotta get out of the boat” This was the main message of an address I heard many years ago, when, in another life I was a Baptist Minister. I will write a longer blog explaining the wider story behind the boat but essentially it means getting out of the comfort zone and taking a few risks. The sea may be choppy and deep and the boat secure but you’re not going to achieve anything be remaining in the boat.
  4. “the first hour of the morning, is the rudder of the day.” ― Henry Ward Beecher. For me the first hour of the day was a moveable feast. I work from home so what did it matter how long it took me to get up, shave or not, as long as I got stuff done. Well I have learnt it does matter. If the the start of your day is lazy and unfocussed then the rest of the day will surely follow in the same vein.
  5. “Everything is difficult before it is easy.”  Hal Elrod.  We would all like the easy way out, the magic bullet, the one easily implemented strategy that leads to wealth, health and happiness. Of course it doesn’t exist. Anything that is worthwhile comes with its own struggle. 

The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod

If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat

@gordon4video

#FTFT

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