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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.

I am now a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu blue belt.

Jiu-Jitsu has changed my life, and I’m barely recognisable from the person I was when I starter a year and a half ago. I’ve let go of 15kg and learnt more about nutrition than I did in my first 20 years.

Most people don’t understand what the journey from a white belt to a blue belt means, and I’m not a good enough writer yet to distill it into one blog post; but I’m going to try anyway.

Jiu-Jitsu is as much a mental pursuit as it is a physical one. The journey from white to blue drills a certain mindset into those who make the cut.

Here are the most important things I’ve come to understand;

I understand what it’s like to feel completely powerless at the hands of another, and what it feels like to have total control over somebody else’s body.

I understand that exposed vulnerabilities become strengths.

I understand that doing great things hurts sometimes; that your success is directly related to your ability to persevere through adversity, that improvement is a guarantee if you can.

I understand camaraderie; the intangible respect for those who share your pursuits.

I understand that building someone up involves breaking them down, while also having their back.

I understand that winning matters far less than growing does.

Controlled failure is growth.

Most people who start training BJJ don’t make it to their first promotion, but everybody should.

There is no greater reality check.

The music of awkward English folk-pop legend Tom Rosenthal is very close to my heart.

His song range from the stunning and serious (About the Weather) to the absurd and hilarious (P.A.S.T.A).

My first introduction to Tom was this hidden gem among his earlier work, Don’t You Know How Bust & Important I Am?

It’s a joyous critique of the over-working, hyper-productivity mindset, and I find it grounds me when I start taking things (or myself) too seriously.

‘Don’t you know how busy and Important I am? I’ve got so much to do.’

Is the repeated chorus throughout the song. But his sarcastic jab at self importance takes darker turn;

‘Too busy to cry, too busy to die, too busy to see my chance.’

The music video, filmed in the same town as the original UK version of the office, features a trio of awkward office workers progressively losing their shit dancing as they let themselves go to the tune of;

‘Maybe I’m just trying to distract myself from my mortality.
Maybe I’m just trying to distract myself from my mortality.’

Tom’s message is subversive but clear; slow down, enjoy the little things, and don’t die dejected and busy.

This kind of absurdly beautiful clever nonsense jives with me greatly.

Tom’s music is at times a breath of fresh air, at others a reality check and on occasion, a soul churning experience.

He’s the artist I recommend most often.

Put him on shuffle until you find something you love, because he’s almost certainly made something that you will.

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 never watched Full House. It was a little before my time.

I’d seen clips and I got the gist, but little did I know that this seemingly innocent 1980s sitcom would be the canvas for a deeply unsettling, minute long experience involving 24 counts of Nick Offerman’s ‘Ron Swanson’ moustache.


Seeing Offerman’s face animated onto the body of a baby in motion was disturbing enough, but what made more even more uncomfortable was the fact that is was so well done.

It left we with a sense that visual accountability could soon be a thing of the past.

CGI has developed to such an extent that anyone could believably be animated doing almost anything.

This is done through a process called ‘deepfake‘, which leverages artificial intelligence to take existing image and video content of a person’s face and superimpose it onto the face of another.

The more access the web has to your face, the more likely it is that someone out there could replicate it.

If youtube goofballs are pulling this off now, how long until face swap technology is so accessible that the infallibility of video evidence is totally compromised?

Unfortunately, it seems the time may have already passed. For those not yet acquainted, please meet Mr Jordan Obama.

This video did the rounds last year, and somehow (probably because I try to avoid Buzzfeed like the plague) it slipped past my radar.

If you had the time, the inclination and the budget, you could generate a perfectly believable video of me tearing apart and eating a raw chicken in front of a gelato shop.

Please don’t.

Just consider the fact that you could.

Horrifying.

(Shudders)

Diction is the process of word selection.

Writing well involves choosing words which play nicely with one another, then killing off as many as possible; leaving only as many as necessary to clearly articulate your point.

“I think I might like to apply for that job. The pay is pretty good, and Sarah said she could probably help me to do up a resume if I wanted a hand.”

Is far easier to read when we apply this logic;

“I’m considering applying for that job. The pay is good, and Sarah said she’d help with my resume.”

When writing, we add words that we use in speech, despite them adding no value to our sentences in writing. We use words like “pretty”, “very” and “probably” to buy time; forcing them to fill gaps in our trains of thought, or jamming them into awkward silences.

These don’t belong in our writing. Consistently considering diction helps break the habit.

Word selection is also what makes writing funny, witty, or clever.

Humour lives in surprise. It’s why comedians spend their lives honing timing, and why bad jokes get big laughs at funerals; things are funniest, and therefore most interesting when they are least expected.

When introducing a character, never write;

“Joy is a little bit strange sometimes.”

When you could write;

“Joy adores the smell of petrol.”

Why would you write something vague and boring when you could write something specific and intriguing?

Make a choice.

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.

On average, it takes two months for a new behaviour to become automatic.

It’s 11:37pm, and I haven’t published this blog post yet. I got distracted with another project, and here we are.

I will publish before midnight. But I wish I’d given myself more time.

This particular feeling lingers with a bitter familiar aftertaste.

Many of us taste this feeling often.

Two months is a tremendous amount of time for someone with an attention deficit disorder to routinely achieve something.

I’ve only just managed to do this with early mornings (well, at least three early mornings a week), and it’s required taking on a huge amount of social responsibility to keep me accountable.

I can’t write consistently or get out of bed unless I know that someone else will be impacted if I don’t.

I still find this very silly. But there’s no telling that to my zombie brain when it has a trigger finger poised over my snooze button.

I think this is why I’ve always favoured tasks and jobs which commend impulsivity over large scale organisation.

I thrive in places where quick thinking and dynamic problem solving are required to float, and I flounder when I think I have a month to do something, or when I don’t think anyone else really minds if I’m not working.

I believe this is why I first dropped out of uni.

I believe this is why I burned through seven jobs in three years, but wasn’t fired from any.

I believe this is why it has taken so much effort to structure my life in a fulfilling way.

If you recognise this feeling, the lurching of anticipated regret as a deadline looms closer, I beg you to stop whatever it is you’re doing, and ask yourself this question;

What could I do right now, which I’ll be proud I did tomorrow morning?

And do it.

It’s 11:48. I’m calling it a night. If there are typos, I’m sorry.

I promise I’ll wake up proud I published this anyway.

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.