Ruckus

Demand for critical thinking, digital literacy & creativity in the job market is rising dramatically.

(Foundation For Young Australians)

Our job markets are moving towards valuing skills over experience.

We are becoming more dynamic learners. It’s not uncommon to have a handful of career changes throughout your working life anymore.

Having spent 15 years working for an organisation means much less than it used to.

As people’s working lives become more dynamic; shifting and changing as technology and culture develops, skills become more valuable because they are transferable.

That’s not to say that experience isn’t valuable, but experience can be too specific, even when it’s from a similar job.

A McDonalds manager doesn’t care whether their employee took the time to memorise every ingredient in a Whopper in their last job. They want to know that their employee can flip a burger.

Young people now have the opportunity to focus on the type of work they want to do, rather than the job they want to do. But we don’t get it for free.

The cost of career dynamism is job security.

Some of us will work contract to contract for the rest of our lives, with next to no work in between.

This sounds scary, but isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The more roles we expose ourselves to, the more skills we adopt. The more skills we have, the less likely it is that we’ll wake up aged 54 in a job we hate but can’t leave because the market is too competitive.

If you commit to a job which isn’t developing any of your skills, you are only investing your time in gaining experience.

Years of experience in a job you hate isn’t worth much at all. Beware the temptations of complacency.

Become someone who thrives in times of change, became times are always a-changin’.

Get to work.

You are your own boss. Even if you work for someone else.

You decide when you wake up, what you do and why you do it.

Why are we such shitty managers of ourselves?

If you had a manager that talked to you the way you talked to you, you’d quit. If you had a boss that wasted as much of your time as you do, they’d fire her. If an organization developed its employees as poorly as you are developing yourself, it would soon go under.

Seth Godin

We need to treat ourselves like we would a well oiled organisation;

Set high expectations, but be realistic.

Apply pressure, but not too much.

Work hard, but not so hard that the work of living becomes unpleasurable.

Most importantly; have a vision, a mission and a purpose.

Your purpose is the reason you exist, your vision describes what accomplishing your purpose looks like, and your mission is the battle plan for how you’re going to get there.

Organisations who fail to define these things, fail to function.

People are the same.

If you don’t know why you’re here, why you’re doing what you’re doing, or how you’re going to do it… Something is wrong.

You’re the boss. Fix it.

Become a person who thrives in times of change. Learn to harness change for your advantage.

Fall in love with the impending unknown.

Organisations, relationships and businesses collapse when the people involved become complacent.

Complacency is sin.

Improve your workflow, surprise your partner, do something unnecessarily kind for a friend.

Innovate something.

‘But why should I fix something that isn’t broken?’

Because if you’re unknowingly complacent, there’s no guarantee you’ll notice when it does start to break. And everything breaks.

Becoming a perpetual innovator is safer than being complacent in an up-till-now consistent system.

When things change for the worse, it usually comes as a surprise. There are times when we have no control over this.

Actively creating change for the better insures against those surprises.

Don’t become complacent. Don’t get caught off guard. Not in anything you do.

Instead, make a ruckus.

We all need mentors. They’re essential for growth, but they aren’t created equal.

An average mentor will give you a map; a detailed list of guidelines and instructions for how to get from A to B (where they assumedly are).

An excellent mentor will give you a compass; they’ll point you in a direction, warn you about the perils you may encounter along the path, and send you on your way.

“The type of mentors who tend to be the most helpful are those who don’t necessarily give you an answer, but they give you a better way of finding that answer.”

Tim Ferriss

An excellent mentor understand that your journey will not be the same as theirs was. Times change. Safe roads become perilous and vice versa.

Excellent mentors are less focussed on what you should do, and more focussed on dangers you should avoid as you navigate your own path.

Find people who model the life you want to lead and allow them to guide you, but never mould yourself into an exact replica of someone else. It’ll never work. Even if you follow their map religiously, you may find that you wield different tools.

You’re too much like you.

Mould your own excellence.

The way we hold ourselves, gesture, and move through space; our nonverbals, influence how others perceive us, but also how we perceive ourselves.

Symbolic gestures of pride are universal across the animal kingdom. Gorillas, gymnasts, and blind athletes all spread their arms high and wide in celebration of a victory; they take up space.

While mostly sub-conscious, we are constantly navigating the power dynamics between us and our environment.

Our nonverbals are one way we manage this; they govern how we think and feel about ourselves, and how we move in relation to, or in the presence of, others.

Why is this important?

Because you can train yourself to feel physiologically powerful, and it has immediate effects on your brain.

People acting powerfully are more assertive, confident, have an easier time abstract thinking, and display risk-taking indicators.

Power is about how you react to stress.

Good leaders are less stress reactive than the people they lead.

The science behind how this functions is fascinating. Researchers have used ‘power pose’ experiments to measure physiological effects.

Low-power poses spike cortisol.

High-power poses spike testosterone.

If you clam up, you are chemically reducing your ability to be present or influential.

If you force yourself to make a habit our of; sitting straight, rocking your shoulders back, keeping your chin up and not crossing your arms and legs, you might not just look more powerful, and be treated as such by those around you. You will likely feel more powerful.

Sometimes your presence is more important than whatever you have to say.

Maintain it.

I was in a book store the other day and couldn’t help but laugh.

All within a foot of each-other, were five books in the ‘Self Improvement’ section with a variation of the word ‘fuck’ in the title.

I’m not sure what this says about the self-improvement industry, but after flicking through these titles for a few minutes, their shared message became clear;

Chill. The fuck. Out.

If life makes you feel like a hedgehog gathering speed as it rolls down a rocky hill, with no other option than to curl up into a tight little ball and hope for the best-

Stop.

Take a breath.

And chill the fuck out.

The world feels like it moves quicker than it actually does.

We’re fantastic at making ourselves feel like we’re the irreplaceable cog of some system; it could be an office job, a cricket team, or an online forum about winter melons which you’ve been wanting to leave for years, but haven’t due to fear of letting someone down.

Most of us feel like there’s some community out there which needs us to go on. To put our heads down and work, work, work, because if we don’t, who will?

The truth? Someone probably will.

Someone else could do your job. No matter how important it is, someone else could do it. No exceptions. Even if no-one else would, someone absolutely certainly, one-hundred-percent positively could.

At face value, this realisation can be bleak. Especially if what you do for, and mean to, other people is at the cornerstone of your identity.

Upon coming to terms with this realisation, we have a choice;

We can be sad about it, or we can use it to free ourselves.

If someone else could do what you do, you should only do the thing which you most want to do.

Think about this.

Calm down. Trust Sandra with the board papers. Trust Sasha to wicketkeep next game. Trust Rodney to handle the winter melon forum for a month or two… What’s the worst that could happen?

Do what you love to do.

F*ck everything else.

The only way to guarantee failure is to stop moving in the direction of your goal.

This seems obvious, but our brains are excellent at avoiding long term goals which involve uncertainty or risk. Too many of us find ourselves stuck doing things we don’t want to do, all the while convincing ourselves that we’ll start working towards our real goals when it becomes convenient.

Is there anything you’re planning to do when the time is right, or as soon as you’ve done ______?

Odds are that the time will never be right, and the thing you’re waiting to finish before you start working towards what you actually want to do will be replaced by another thing, then another, until the end of time.

If you want something, you need to walk at it, not around it.

The goals you set in order to get there need to be relevant to your long term vision.

Goals need to be achievable, but challenging enough to maintain focus and flow.

You need to be able to directly explain how your short term goals relate to the master plan; whatever it is you’re tacking towards.

Your master plan has to be tactile. If your long term goal changes, so should your short term goals.

Don’t be afraid of this.

If you lost your job tomorrow and had to rebuild, could you?

Of course you could. You would have to. The pressure to do so might actually be good for you.

If your long term goals don’t align with your current reality, it’s time to re-assess.

This is a reminder for myself more than for anyone else.

Put one foot in front of the next. Walk towards whatever it is which ignites you.

Fail, and persevere.

Don’t quit.

Get gritty.

What does a good game and an excellent piece of writing have in common?

They both get finished.

Neither make the audience too scared, nor too bored to continue; they create just enough challenge and just enough reward to keep the audience engaged, and intrigued.

Games aren’t interesting if they don’t present a challenge. Writing isn’t interesting if it doesn’t tell you something you don’t know.

Fundamentally, all games and all forms of writing operate as stories. Even Rock-Paper-Scissors has a beginning middle and an end.

Good games and good writing must surprise the audience, regularly and effectively.

Neither can afford to be predictable or confusing.

Failure to achieve this balance means that the book you’re writing will pile up in Tsundoku, and the game you’re making will sit unplayed.

Stories must exist in the goldilocks zone between the audience’s anxiety and boredom in order to be finished.

This zone is called the ‘Flow Channel’, named such because stories which occupy this space effectively maintain audience attention in a way which minimises resistance.

When audiences experience flow, they don’t think about whether or not they’re going to turn the page, or play the next level.

They just do.

Consider this diagram from Peter Turchi’s A Muse and a Maze: Writing as Puzzle, Mystery, and Magic.

What’s wrong with it?

All good stories exist within the flow channel from start to finish, but not all stories worth finishing are good stories.

Flow alone is not enough.

Imagine riding a rollercoaster without any hills, turns or bumps.

It wouldn’t be a rollercoaster, it would be a big mechanical slide. While its novelty might pull you in for one ride, you won’t be lining up to ride it again.

In principle, the secret sauce of rollercoasters is the same as that of your favourite games and writing;

The tension between anxiety and boredom must be variable, while still existing within the goldilocks zone.

Think about the moment of relief after you complete a hard level, or finish an intense chapter.

Without this variability. Without peaks and troughs of tension throughout the audience’s journey, audience attention cannot be sustained.

This is why every story arc has multiple peaks – moments throughout the piece where the stakes are high, and times of low pressure in between.

story structure

If tension flatlines, the story dies.

The end.

How many books are sitting unread on your shelf?

I hope there are many.

Tsundoku, or ‘reading-pile’ in Japanese, is the word to describe a collection of purchased but unread books or reading materials.

Tsundoku harbours negative connotations associated with hoarding, but it shouldn’t. A pile of unread books of which you’re at least partially interested is a beautiful thing.

Tsundoko is a pile of opportunity.

Seize it.

Angel investor and philosopher Naval Ravikant reads 10-20 books at once.

How does he sustain this madness?

He gives himself permission to quit.

Naval doesn’t read books with the intention of finishing them. He reads a book for as long as it captivates him. If he tires of a book, he sets it aside.

If the first half of a book doesn’t want to make you read the second half, what’s to say it’ll be worth the same amount of time as the first?

But if he only reads what is most interesting to him, how does he ever finish anything?

He always picks another book up. He never stops reading.

He has built a habit around reading constantly. Books he puts down, he will often pick back up when he’s ready to return to it. Books he’s finished 15 times over, he’ll pick back up if it’s what he’s in the mood for.

Naval claims that the value of reading doesn’t lie in the books you read, but in the act of reading itself.

How do you build the same habit? He has a simple answer;

Read what you love until you love to read.

Naval Ravikant

Naval treats reading like I aim to treat ruckusmaking.

He gives himself the permission to ‘fail’, and continues to try until he gets what he wants.

He suggests you do the same.

You know the feeling when your attention is so engulfed that the world stops in its tracks?

It’s the moment you leap off the diving board.

The moment your parachute triggers.

It’s the freezing-warm rush of the lights striking as they reveal a stage, with you on it.

It’s whenever time feels stuck and the air feels tight.

You feel the world begin to animate as the feeling unravells.

Energy spills out of you as everything returns to equilibrium.

You senses snap back to focus as adrenaline peaks, then subsides; a bodily epiphany.

These are airlock moments.

Named such because airlocks transport you between atmospheres of differing pressure (imagine an astronaut being released into the vaccum of space).

In these moments, for a split second, you become the universe; as far as you’re aware, nothing else exists.

Chase these moments.

There is nothing more authentic than a human body hitting auto-pilot and taking control; acting on pure instinct until the moment passes.

Let your heart race.