Productivity

It starts with us asking ourselves where we are.

Then we consider why we’re there.

Followed by us asking, “Where could we be?”

We consider how we could get there.

We act (hopefully).

We analyse whether or not we’re getting there.

Then we ask ourselves where we are…

I’ve spoken at length about feedback loops and the benefits of processing it productively.

But sometimes, you just can’t.

Like too much of anything, feedback can become a burden if our focus is on generating lots of it rather than specific feedback of high quality.

An embroider might glance over thousands of lines in the making of a piece, search for the slightest of imperfections to be mend. When he spots one, he examines the line thread by thread, learning what he did wrong, fixing his mistakes and making adjustments for the next time he picks up the needle.

Another embroider of similar skill makes the same piece. But instead of glancing line by line, he examines each stich closely and carefully, immediately after making it.

Both fix their mistakes, both are better embroiders by the end of the piece, but the first finishes his piece in one sixteenth the time.

Even if he misses a mistake which the meticulous second embroider notices, the first embroider gives themselves sixteen more projects to learn it.

Too much feedback is poisonous. We can’t let ourselves get caught up in the illusion of perfect improvement.

Robert Sterberg’s triarchic theory of intelligence suggests that intelligence exists across a spectrum which involves three distinct forms: analytical intelligence, practical intelligence and creative intelligence.

Analytical intelligence is what we typically associate with ‘smart’ people. It’s book smarts. Specifically, it’s the ability to understand, recall and develop ideas which aid in problem solving and decision making.

Practical intelligence is all about how we interact with our environment. How to we change ourselves to suit it, and how to we change our environment to suit us? Practically intelligent people are excellent lifestyle designers.

Finally, creative intelligence is about extending beyond analytical ideas and into the generation of ideas which react effectively to new situations. People with high creative intelligence are those who are comfortable developing new approaches to problems which may not always align with conventional thinking.

Each of these forms are multiplied by one another. If we excel in one but are deficient in another, our overall intelligence still suffers.

If we’re honest with ourselves, can we spot our weakest link?

How much could we be benefit from focussing on improving it?

There’s a lot of research which suggests that we can foster any one of these forms with a bit of dedicated practice.

If that’s important to you, find your weak spot and begin building a habit.

Don’t wait.

Start now.

We’re born with talent, we develop skill and we earn opportunity.

Ability is what we get when we take advantage of all three.

To feel like we’re making ‘progress’, our abilities must be growing.

When they’re not, we start to feel stagnant – in creeps the humble dread of meaninglessness.

Shield against that. Learn to love learning. Take risks.

Grow.

Was there a day this week where you went to bed dissatistied with the way you spent it?

How many days was that the case?

If that number is hard to deal with (which at times it most certainly has been for me), one of two things are wrong.

Either the way you’re spending your time isn’t aligned with the stories you want to tell about yourself, or your expectations aren’t in line with what’s reasonable.

This worst is when it’s a combination of the two.

We all deserve to love what we do.

But sometimes loving what we do requires us to work hard at loving it.

We’re great at categorising things.

It’s how we stay organised. It makes us feel productive.

When we categorised tasks, our natural instinct is to give them an order or a sequence.

But sometimes the rules we make up stop making sense.

Sometimes our orders limit us.

“I’m going to do the dishes then mop the floor.”

Is different to,

“I have to do the dishes before mopping the floor.”

Sometimes the floor just has to be mopped.

Be careful of pigeon holes, especially those you make yourself.

Only a fool ends up washing dishes while standing in broken glass.

We’re at our best when we’re creating.

We create at our best when we’re connected.

We’re most connected when we surround ourselves with brilliant people who care.

And we attract those people by being brilliant ourselves.

Next time you’re wondering what to do, think about what you have to give.

Then give it.

Pursuits are the infinite games we play which involve clear feedback and trackable progress.

Playing slot machines can never be a pursui because there’s no way to get better at it; over time, you’re guaranteed to lose.

However, playing poker could be a pursuit. There are a set of skills involved which can be honed over time with practice.

Pursuits are not habits, but they can involve habitual practice.

Mixed Martial Arts is a pursuit which benefits greatly from a habitual routine.

Pursuits are the goals we set which never end.

They’re the things which over time we wish to master. Which we do for the sake of continuing to do them.

Nobody ever wakes up and realises that they’ve mastered a pursuit.

Mastery is not a destination, it’s a practice.

Excitement is like jet fuel for great ideas.

Without it, they don’t take off

Too much at once and you wind up travelling so fast that blind spots develop.

Relish your excitement. Let it energise you. Just make sure you look both ways before every take off.

Long story short, I’m trying to put on a little bit of useful weight. Skip to the bottom for the delicious recepie I’m using to jam breakfast back into my mornings.

Unfortunately, I’m not bulking up just for the hell of it. In order to continue being competitive in higher level jiu-jitsu competitions, I need to be stronger than I am.

As it turns out, this is harder do than I thought. First of all, getting strong hurts. A lot. Which doesn’t make training jiu-jitsu any easier either.

In spite of the pain, I’ve just started the Stronglifts 5×5 workout program. A number of muscly people I trust have reccomended it as a good starting point for building the type of strength required for jiu-jitsu.

The program consists of two alternating body weight workouts, each comprised of compound free weight exercises with the intent of progressive overload.

If that was gibberish to you (like it was to me a few weeks ago), what this means is that the program has you switch between two workouts which don’t involve any machines or special equiptment. You show up, lift free weights and progressively add a tiny bit more weight each session until you can no longer complete 5 reps at a given weight in an exercise.

Avoiding machines at the gym and focussing on free weights means there is a whole lot more balance and posture involved in the lifts. Because Each exercise activates (and agitates) a big portion of your body, so you have to focus on keeping your whole body activated throughout each lift, and need to focus on less total exercises to get results.

I’ve never been one to get motivated by superficial physical incentives. Muscles are nice, but if I were desperate for them I would have started going to the gym a long time ago.

I’m going to the gym primarily to hone the tools I take to war on the mats.

But what I’ve found out is that in order for all that work to mean anything on the mats, I need to pay a lot of attention to what I eat while I’m off them.

If I want to gain muscle mass, I need to be consuming roughly 4000 more kilojules than I’m used to eating every day and a large portion of that needs to be protein. At my current size, I’m simply not putting in enough food to offset all the energy I expend exercising. Which is a good problem to have. But still…

As someone mostly disinterested in the prospect of breakfast most mornings, this was a troublesome fact to uncover.

However, I think I’ve stumbled across something which is going to solve my problem; peanut butter protein shakes.

Luke’s Peanut Butter Protein Shake

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 scoops vanilla flavoured protein powder (whey or plant based)
  • 1 banana
  • 2 table spoons 100% peanut butter
  • 1 table spoon chia seeds
  • 1 table spoon honey
  • 1 date
  • 3/4 cup frozen blueberries
  • 2 cups milk of choice

The best thing about this recepie is that you can prepare it ahead of time.

Just put everything except the milk into a container or zip lock bag and pop it in the freezer. When you’re ready to have it, empty the contents of a container into your blender, add your milk and blitz away!

I’ve prepared a batch of these in advance, and am now looking forward to each morning when I get to slurp down a meal which feels like a treat, even though it’s a necessity.