Once long ago, before freelancing, my team and I were three spoilt office workers on a well-paid and long lead project. But we moaned and groaned and feigned superiority, and then team member number four arrived, G.
He practically shook the carpeted ground underneath his feet with positivity and eagerness to please. No job was too small, no middle manager too unimportant for him to please, no reason to be pessimistic about anyone or anything.
And he didn’t mind our teasing.
He knew we wouldn’t bother teasing him if we didn’t like him but more importantly, he understood that the way to survive the client cuts and organisational purse tightening was to be positive. …
There’s a lot of good advice about the value of schedules and routines, systems and even deliberate practice to master your skill.
But even deliberate practise on its own can feel quite insular.
I think of the, not one, but two cyclists on different occasions, head down, lycra-clad, cycling at full speed on a straight road and running into the back of a parked car outside my place.
Maybe they felt for a moment that they were on a leg of the Tour de France instead of a busy suburban road?
It was a bad day for both; a previously expensive but now smashed up bike, blood, teeth left on the pavement. The first guy was taken away in an ambulance; the second got himself up and into a taxi. …
Do you remember your first-ever creative writing flow state? Mine was in 2013. I didn’t start with a beat sheet, or an outline, or even a protagonist; just a class exercise involving two characters.
I sat in a chair, and I started writing, and I didn’t stop for three months, except to go to work and talk to my boyfriend occasionally.
I didn’t pause for breath; I didn’t jump on Twitter to see who else was writing; I didn’t log words. It was true flow.
Four years later, I took the play to a small stage in London. It was a milestone for sure, but four years is a long lead time for a single story. …
In 2006 world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck published her iconic book, Mindset: The New Psychology Of Success.
Her work found that people tended to fall sharply into two categories regarding their intelligence capabilities. They either considered their intelligence as a fixed and finite quantity, or they saw it as something that had the ability to grow and change shape through learning.
The group that accepted their intelligence as fixed, whether high or low, would not spend any effort trying to increase their abilities. What else could you do if you thought change was impossible?
The group that took on a mindset growth outlook saw exponential growth in their learning capabilities. …
Do you remember the last time you made a mistake that loomed large, even just for a short moment? Maybe it was at work, maybe with your art or craft, perhaps it was public but perhaps not.
Do you remember the feeling of uselessness?
A couple of months ago I made a work error that felt epic and kicked off a week long internal sulk and struggle. I hadn’t felt like that for a long time. I obviously hadn’t been venturing very far from my comfort zone.
But there I was, smarting from what felt like an epic fail; questions like this were pouring…
Ordinary life evokes more extraordinary courage than combat or adventure because both the chances and inevitabilities of life — grief, illness, disappointment, pain, struggle, poverty, loss, terror, heartache: all of them common features of the human condition, and all of them experienced by hundreds of thousands of people every day. (Grayling, 2001, p21)
I found this passage in an AC Grayling book the other day. It had been sitting on the shelf for many years, in a community of other unread books.
I must’ve been craving a little philosophy.
The book was The Meaning Of Things: Applying Philosophy To Life and this section, Courage, opens with the following quote from Plato. …
A couple of short moons ago, above a pub in North London, I sat on a chair, on a raised stage, facing a room half-filled with angry, elderly theatre gents and the other half filled with my kind friends.
It was squishy and hot and we’d all just endured a clumsy two-hour rehearsed reading of a play I wrote. The first few comments came in from the angry quarter of red-faced men who had been waiting impatiently to voice their discontent at the play.
I thought it was meant to be funny.
It was too long
Your representation of men was outrageous, a disgrace, they would never treat a woman like that. …
I could say it’s the autumn colours, the brightening of the orange against a gentle blue sky. The quiet, the creaking of the house, the knowledge that somewhere in this city another writer is beavering away or a bus driver is travelling the solitary streets.
But a perfect writing sprint, or yoga session or any time spent with you and the universe is usually more of a cumulation of a series of inner conditions.
It’s a few isolated hours each day where peace and calm reign for as long as you can let it before the chaos of the outside world demands attention. …
I simultaneously occupied the role of student and mentor in my day job this week; different projects, different industries, other countries even but at the heart of both projects lay a common theme, humans and the way we interact with one another.
Or perhaps passenger and driver is a better analogy.
Getting to speak to people in one week who were at different ends of a journey has left me feeling whimsical.
So get ready for another annoying motivational piece from someone you have probably never met.
But, to use my favourite phrase at the moment. …
Belgium, 2003, the world’s biggest diamond heist unfurls. Thieves have stolen 100 million from the impenetrable Antwerp Diamond Centre.
Manhattan Federal Court, 2014, the first U.S. wine fraud case is in session with a charge of selling more than twenty million dollars worth of fake wine.
Here lie two tremendous stories, with two protagonists who are unconnected other than the scope of their ambitious projects and a few performance characteristics
They are Leonardo Notarbartolo and Rudy Kurniawan and yes they both got caught but not before achieving something mammoth and looking at the personal qualities that they showed to the world there are a few common traits that appear. …