Ruckus

In the process of making anything, you need to make a number of choices. These choices shape and define the work we do.

Making these choices is hard. When we’re try to decide who our work is for, we wrestle with a conflict at the core of all creative work;

If our work is going to resonate with some, it will likely upset others.

“It’s impossible to create work that both matters and pleases everyone.”

Seth Godin

The more we cater our work towards a demographic, the more specific we tailor it, the less relevant it becomes to the masses.

In times gone, too much specificity implied imminent irrelevancy. If you couldn’t get it in front of enough eyes who cared, what was the point?

Today, you can go to resinobsession.com and network with a whole community of people bound by their love of resin dice.

(Dispel Dice on kickstarter)

The internet is connecting people who would never have been able to find each other two decades ago.

Our work can now do the same.

There isn’t value in sacrificing specificity for relevancy any more.

We have a cognitive bias towards our own ideas, because we make them.

Partnering with people, or working in teams, is a step towards insuring against that bias.

That’s not to say your ideas aren’t good, you might just have a harder time picking the good ones from the bad ones than someone who doesn’t share your bias.

An even more compelling argument for teamwork is that finding good ideas requires a mass of bad ideas to be had and filtered through.

“The goal isn’t to get good ideas; the goal is to get bad ideas. Because once you get enough bad ideas, then some good ones have to show up.”

Seth Godin

If you’re working with a partner, the amount of ideas you generate doubles. This means you find the good ideas faster, and can work together to capitalise on them.

Don’t be afraid to make ruckus. Be honest when ideas are bad, especially when they’re your own. And commit to the good ones with everything you’ve got.

“There are at least two kinds of games. One could be called finite, the other infinite. A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play.”

James P. Carse

Much of what I write and think about revolves around how we can think about the finite games we like to play in infinite ways.

How can we program ourselves to relish opportunities for growth, even when they look like failures?

How do we play to win while also play simply to keep playing?

And how do we play finite games alongside those who can’t see the infinite possibility within all games?

Imagine that every person in your workplace wanted to accomplish the same thing; that you were all motivated by the same clear objective.

And each day you all gave everything to see that objective accomplished.

No stalling. No work for work’s sake. No dodging responsibility.

Now snap back to reality and identify why that’s not the case.

How does your organisation motivate the people who define it to do great work?

Do they do a good enough job?

If not, tell them.

If they don’t like it, there’s never been an easier time to start something.

The best way to ensure that your organisation has your best interest at heart is to be your own organisation.

“Become the best in the world at what you do. Keep redefining what you do until this is true.”

Naval Ravikant

In both art and business, we are usually defined by those we can be likened to.

We’re lumped into genres or styles, niches and roles.

When competing for success, we are often assigned a category.

Maybe you were proactive enough to assign yourself the category which best defines you.

This is great news, on one condition;

That you’re the best in class.

If you’re going to allow yourself to be defined by a category, ensure that you’re the best fish in the pond.

When in doubt, dig your own pond.

Don’t be a slightly-above-average animal photographer when you can be the world’s best Quokka photographer.

(Photo: Natalie Su)

Never call yourself a ‘pretty good’ sales assistant when you could be the best speckled beanie salesperson in the state.

Why would you be a writer with a blog when you could be the only young West Australian writer with a BJJ blue belt who publishes original work daily?

(If there’s another one, someone let me know, I’d love to meet them.)

You do you.

I only ask that you do us all a favour and do it brilliantly.

“How dare you settle for less when the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable.”

Seth Godin

Seth Godin makes a hugely insightful point in his riff on Theodore Levitt’s famous quarter-inch drill bit quote.

People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill bit. They want a quarter-inch hole.

Theodore Levitt, Harvard Marketing Professor

Godin argues that it’s not even the hole that people want.

It’s not the shelf they plan on installing on the brackets they’re going to drill into the hole.

What people want are the feelings they’re able to access now that they have the drill bit; the feeling of pride when they install the shelf by themselves, the gratification of pleasing their spouse, or the safety and security they might experience when then can put all their things on the shelf, and keep their space tidy and organised.

This is important for marketers to understand, but equally important for us to understand as consumers.

When we spend (be it our money or our time), what are the feelings we’re trading for?

Are we being capitalised upon?

Are we making decisions which will serve us over time?

That next Big Mac might feel incredible at the time, but it won’t an hour later. And if that feeling you purchased diminished so quickly, what will it’s value be in twenty years when your health catches up with you?

People are plagued by the fact that we always want, but don’t always know what we want.

Learning to want less, and more specifically is the trick.

Nobody wants a quarter-inch drill bit – but we all want to feel safe, healthy, respected and loved.

Today marks 100 days of putting my thoughts on the line.

Three months feels like a blink. But in such a short time, this already feels like one of the most meaningful commitments I’ve ever managed to uphold.

In honour of that, it seems like as arbitrary a time as any to look back, reflect and take a moment to thank those of you who’ve been the fertiliser to my grass-roots.

The growth I’ve experienced over the past few months has been overwhelming. I’ve written some crap, and I’ve written some work that I’m intensely proud of.

Having a tangible accumulation of ever-improving work is something I still can’t wrap my head around; some posts I was proud of two months now embarrass me to revise.

I can see the weeks where I allowed myself to be tired or overworked.

I can pick out the posts I published in a rush at 11:58pm instead of getting writing done in the morning.

The clear disparity in the quality of that work motivates me to take care of myself properly.

Beyond all that, I’ve benefited hugely from cataloguing a d categorising my thoughts.

By organising thoughts into the ‘clusters’ in the menu bar, I’ve been able to refer back to information quickly when I’ve needed it.

When I started out, I didn’t think I’d go back re-consider content nearly as much as I do. I revisit the ruckus cluster often, usually when I need a boost.

In terms of readership, the views and visitors to the site have been on a slow but steady incline.

These metrics aren’t what I measure the success of the blog by, but the fact that there is an upwards trend means that more people are hearing about the blog.

Because I don’t pay to advertise the blog anywhere, this means that a significant portion of this extra traffic will be from word-of-mouth.

If you’ve been a part of that, thank you.

Seriously. Some of the most delightful conversations I’ve had in the past few months have sprouted from;

“Hey! I read that thing you posted about…”

Conversations like that mean everything to me. And if you’re someone who regularly likes, comments on, shares or talks about my content, you’re responsible for a portion of that joy.

Thanks also to those of you who have followed the blog on WordPress, or via email.

There’s more than 50 of you now, and while I’m sure that at least a couple of you are Russian bots, I know that there’s a chunk of you who are lovely, real, genuine people.

It means a great deal that you’re willing to get notified every time I put something out there (not just when it’s good enough for me to share it on a social platform).

Launching this site has been the best thing I’ve ever done for my writing, but it’s also fundamentally changed the way I think.

It’s hard to express how valuable forcing myself to constantly seek out stimulating information to distill has been. Every day brings with it a looming pressure to notice things, and I’ve never felt more engaged with the world.

So far I’ve had the opportunity to share 2374 views with 1408 visitors, through 37,212 words.

All it took was finding an idea worth persisting with, a little grit and an unrelenting desire to make ruckus.

Thank you for being here to celebrate 100 posts with me.

I’ll check back in on the 13th July 2020, after 365.

Refining a technique minimises the intensity required to execute it.

This refinement is achieved through practice.

Practicing techniques is most effective when you’re able to apply them thoughtfully.

It’s difficult to apply a technique thoughtfully when you’re applying it with maximum force; so when we practice, it’s usually at around 70% intensity.

This princilple applies to physical techniques, like Jiu-Jitsu submissions, but also to mental techniques.

When you’re trying too hard to force a submission, you’re compensating for bad technique, and your overall progress suffers.

Try too hard to write, and you’ll never write anything. Try too hard to meditate, and you won’t get much out of meditation either.

Consistent performance at 70% is worth more than sporratic performance at 100%.

For certain pursuits, like Jiu-Jitsu, it is sometimes required that you are able to perform a technique at 100% intensity.

This requires occasional testing of the limits of your technique. This extra 30% intensity should be a bonus, not the norm.

The potency of your 100% depends on how consistent your 70% performance has been in practice, not how often you practice 100% exertion.

When you operate at 70%, you leave yourself enough resources to notice mistakes and implement feedback.

Fail to leave yourself enough bandwidth to consider the limits of your technique, and you might never master it.

Remain playfully engaged with improving through every chance to practice, and you’re guaranteed mastery of any technique with enough invested time.

Once mastery is achieved, your technique at 70% will well exceed the technique of most others clumsily operating at 100%.

Mastering the art of practice is the key to mastering everything else.

Build good habits. Master yourself. Do things you love.

Then persist.

All effective teams have three things in common;

  • A shared goal which excites them;
  • communication strategies which enable them;
  • and accountablily methods which keep them on track.

At the end of the day, this leaves you responsible for being a part of things you care about; communicating with respect, honesty and kindness; and doing the work you say you’ll do.

If your current workplace prohibits you from doing one of these things, you’re in the wrong workplace.

If you’re unable to do these things in any workplace, the change probably needs to come from you.

I have at times been perplexed by the amount of sneezing I do at seemingly random intervals, deducing that I probably just have allergies to something.

During a meeting today, I needed to walk from one building to another. It was a gorgeous sunny day in Fremantle, and as we approached the second building, I couldn’t help but let out three muffled but aggressive sneezes.

“Sorry about that!” I said, embarrassed. “I think I must be allergic to one of the trees or something around here, it gets me all the time.”

The woman I was meeting with didn’t miss a beat before responding, “No, it’s probably the sun.”

Apparently, this is an actual thing.

The Photic Sneeze Reflex is a legitimate medical condition which causes people to sneeze when exposed to a variety of stimuli, including looking at bright lights.

Strangely, the earliest know record of the Photic Sneeze Reflex lives in the writings of Aristotle.

‘Why is it that one sneezes more after one has looked at the sun? Is it because the sun engenders heat and so causes movement, just as does tickling the nose with a feather? For both have the same effect; by setting up movement they cause heat and create breath more quickly from the moisture; and it is the escape of this breath which causes sneezing.’

Aristotle

Aristotle thought that the sun might cause nose sweat, which could tickle the inside of the nose enough to illicit a sneeze. While the logic checks out, this isn’t actually how it works.

Scientist’s best guess at the moment is that the sneeze reaction has something to do with the overstimulation of the trigeminal nerve,

Image result for trigeminal nerve
NHS

This nerve is the connection point for three other nerve branches including; the ophthalmic branch, which can be stimulated by rapid changes in light conditions; and the maxillary branch, which when stimulated, can cause sneezing.

The running theory is that when the opthalmic branch is overstimulated, it can cause other branches of the trigeminal nerve to become irritated.

A 2010 study discovered that if you’re amongst the 18-35% of people who report sneezing at the sun, you almost definitely have a very specific and seemingly pointless inheritable genetic mutation.

For those of us with the mutation, the irritation passed on to our maxillary nerve from overstimulation of the ophthalmic nerve through bright light changes is just enough to send us over the edge and into a small fit of sneezes.

The condition is harmless unless you’re a brain surgeon, but one hell of a nuisance nonetheless.

You can test whether you’re affected quite easily. Just walk outside and look at the sun for a while (not directly, obviously). If after thirty seconds or so you wind up achoo-ing your head off, welcome to the Photic Sneeze Reflex Club. You’ll receive your card in the mail.