Susceptibility to externalities

After a day of ego blows the day before, it was fascinating to reflect on my response yesterday. I gravitated towards creating things, and showing people what I had created in order to get positive feedback, and help me feel better again.

One of the things I created was a soccer goal for my kids, combining two other soccer goals that were falling apart to make one that was perfect for our purposes. The act of creating was soothing. Able to look at something I had put together from other, discarded, things was satisfying. Showing it to others gave me a buzz.

I did some similar things with a spreadsheet I had created at work: refining, revelling, showing. And with some sales I made of the breath mints.

I am taking some good and not so good points in reflecting on this. The good is that in acting despite how I feel, particularly in creating or refining something, I feel empowered and alive and taking responsibility for my plight. This is so good in helping me move through a tricky patch.

The not so good is the desire for and boost I get from external feedback. In itself there is nothing wrong with it, it can be a great way of validating that I have created something useful. However if I become dependant upon the feedback to get me out of a tricky patch, then I am simply finding the other end of the spectrum of where I was: having my feelings dictated by externalities.

Externalities can be a good guide, but I don't want them to be my driving force. This I want to come from within.

The moment after loss

I tell myself that this is going to open up space for something else. But still, in this moment, it is all to easy to wonder and worry about where my income is going to come from.

I tell myself that I have got through downs like this in the past, and survived, and even thrived. But in this moment, it seems second nature to think that this is the way I am always going to feel from now on.

I tell myself that it was not really about me, that it was circumstance and timing. But my critical minds wants to get its two cents in and tell me that I could have done more, been more, tried harder.

If there is one thing the past two and half years have not been, its dull. I reflect on this time, and draw strength from what I am capable of absorbing, standing up to, getting back up from. I am strong and can handle so much more than I thought.

So today, despite the nagging voices from the dark places, I choose to go on, to enter the confusion and uncertainty, and to create and make as well as I know how.


Too much going on

There are too many things in my life right now. Podcast. Job. Start-up. Kids. Speaking gigs. 

The problem is I enjoy them all, and think they are all important things for me to be doing right now. It is the season for all of them.

There are consequences though. The first is my social life - I do not have the space or energy to invest in relationships like I want to. The second is creative energy - once again, I don't have the space and energy to reflect and draw my creativity out. The third is presence - as I am putting more into each day, my base level of stress seems to rise and I check my phone more, rush more from place to place.

What to do? Is this just a season in my life? Can I make the space and energy I need? I want to connect and create and be present.

As a start, here are some things to do that will create some more space and energy in my life:

1) Outsource: the editing of my podcast sucks out my energy and time. I can outsource this

2) Reduce living costs: I have some regular expenses in my life that I can reduce, which would also reduce my stress

3) Say no: there are somethings, some catchups that are not quite right for me. In saying no to them I say yes to space and energy for creativity, friendships, and presence.


In having a break from writing this blog for a month, I have noticed a few of things.

The first is that I become less articulate about ideas, thoughts and feelings that I have. Writing about an idea each day helps me to understand it better, and to convey it better to others.

The second is about the reason I am writing it. I want to write about what it is like to be here now. About what I am feeling, experiencing, pondering, at this moment. I do this because I want to reflect on this; because I want others who might happen to read this to feel a bit better about their experience of being where they are in each moment; and I also do it because I want to one day go back and flick through some of these memories.

The third thing I have noticed is how much more difficult it is to be creative when working full-time. I started a full-time job about 2 months ago, and since then producing creative output has become much more of an effort. This is one of the reasons why I have taken a break from the blog, because I have put my creative efforts into continuing my podcast.

My intention is to build writing a blog post into my mourning ritual. It is beneficial to me, and I hope to others as well, and I want to keep doing it.

The only way is through

Can't go over it. Can't go under it. Have to go through it.

There is no going back. As humans we cannot go back to being foragers. As individuals we cannot go back to being kids or teenagers or our twenties. When times were good. When we didn't have pressures. The time of nostalgia.

The only way is through whatever situation we have created, creating something better as we go, hopeful that we, our communities, and our planet will be better once we get to the other side.

The trouble with internally evaluated success

I want the success of my life to be determined by me. By how well I have lived according to my personal quest: connection; conversation; consciousness; wellbeing; context awareness; creation; contribution; curation.

According to these measures it is really only me who can decide if I am tracking to this or not. I like the idea of this. I want to live this way.

I run into trouble when I simultaneously want others to recognise that I am successful as well, and when I start to want the things that will show people that I am really making it now. Things like clothes, cars, houses, being well known, excess money.

I want to have it both ways, to be successful in my quest, and the have others envious of me because of the external trappings of that success. This is particularly true when I think about those I believe have slighted me: I will show them, I tell myself.

The truth that is sinking in, of course, is that in following my quest and being successful in it, it may not look like success to anybody around me. In fact, it may look like failure. Like I have no money, no external ornaments, not being all that well known.

This can be hard to swallow. I want to be adored and follow my quest. And perhaps I will. But more likely I think, I will be joyfully invisible.

Luxuries spawn obligations

One of history's few iron laws is that luxuries tend to become necessities and to spawn new obligations.  -- Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

I am loving every page of Sapiens, and this is one quote among many that ring true.

It challenges me to live with less, because I will actually have more freedom and less obligations the less I am able to live with.

Harari talks about our foraging ancestors, and how they would work for about four hours per day and then spend the rest of the time with their tribe. That feels about right to me. I want to work for four hours a day, and then spend the rest of the time with those I love most, or reading a book, or taking care of myself.

While this will mean I have less luxury items in my life, it will bring me closer to who I naturally am and the life I want to live.

My Mantra

I have come up with a mantra that I tell myself each morning. It goes like this:

I am here to explore the mystery and wonder of existence.

I do this through connection and conversation.

I do this through consciousness and wellbeing.

I do this through creation, contribution, and curation.

Public Speaking

Today I have my first public speaking gig in quite some time. It is something I have been wanting to get back into, and this is a fairly soft introduction as I am part of a panel.

I enjoy being on stage when I feel I have something valuable to say, but I am still so nervous about it.

I wonder where this opportunity will take me.


Right now, having taken on a full-time job, it is a lot of effort to keep the rest of my activities going. Like the podcast. And even thinking about a social life makes me want to sit down.

I remind myself to be consistent. That starting a new job takes energy, but it is not going to be this energy sapping for long. It also requires the creation of new routines which also require some trial and error before they are optimised, but then they become optimised and easy.

So for this period my priority is to do the basics of looking after myself well: sleep, food, movement, meditation. My other priority is to be consistent in producing the podcast, writing this blog, and of course showing up and producing great work at my new job.

Soon I will have time and space and energy for other things. But right now it is about getting through a slightly more difficult period.

Context of Eons

I am reading a fascinating book at the moment called Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs. It is taken me on a journey through our universe, and I am being blown away by every page.

One of the things that is striking me most is the spans of time it talks about - in particular, how long our species has been on the planet, as compared to how long a species like the dinosaurs survived for.

The author casually makes the remark that it is highly unlikely that our species will survive as long as the dinosaurs did. Which got me thinking, if there are other species that in time will take over ours, what are we actually here for? The idea of legacy seems quite delusional.

What I am starting to think about is that I am here to explore the nature of existence. The time of my species and of me is now. It may be that my species becomes extinct by self-creating means. It may be that another, more conscious, more eco-centre species evolves over the coming millions of years that this planet will exist. A species that would probably shake its head at the way humans handled their time on this planet.

I am a steward of this time and place. I want to do my best to understand myself, my context, and contribute a small piece to helping all beings explore the mystery of where we are.

The stress of mornings

From the moment of my waking up to arriving at my desk: this seems to be the most stressful part of my day. There is so much to fit in, and two little people who just don't seem to get the concept of time or being late.

It has got me thinking about my mornings and how I can make them less stressful. And the answer is simple. Work from home or a cafe those mornings that I also have to get the kids to school. Do not even attempt to get into the office at the same time everybody else is trying to get to the office. Do the opposite of what everybody else is doing.

The answer to my stressful mornings maybe as simple as not trying to meet an arbitrary arrival deadline. I will experiment with this over the next two weeks.

Working hours

In my head I know how ridiculous it is to think that the most important thing about my work is that I am sitting at my desk at certain hours for a certain amount of time. But I am finding it hard to challenge and shake that sense of guilt when I am not at my desk when I feel I am suppose to be there.

It is a legacy of being a consultant for so long, billing the client by the hour and having the feeling of being watched.

I am encouraged by those I work around that they don't have this assumption. They encourage me, implicitly more than explicitly, to where when and where suits me. Results are paramount over location.

Today I tried to do it all...find the fastest way into school, workout in the morning, and get into work before 9. It was a failure on most accounts...but it lead me to this new way of thinking.

So tomorrow morning after dropping my kids at school I will be doing some work from home before heading into the office. I will avoid the peak hour rush. I will be more effective and less stressed when I do work.

When encountering a new culture

I am tempted to offer all sorts of suggestions at my new place of work. Things are different here. There are different assumptions; different constraints; different rituals. My immediate reaction is to want to do things that way I am used to doing them. 

I am parking this urge for the time being. While I will offer a few suggestions, my focus is on asking questions and understanding the way things work here first.

There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is that this organisation is functioning, and functioning well. Therefore any reactive suggestions from me may not actually be that useful. It may be adding unnecessary process, or not aligned with the values of the organisation. I want to understand how and why it works first, and then bring my experience into the picture if I think it could help.

The second reason is that I want to unlearn some of my unhelpful habits and assumptions, and the best way to do this is to observe how somebody else does it.

I think that through this approach both the organisation and I will benefit.

Favourite shape

When I was a kid my favourite shape was a circle. There was a TV show called Play School and during one segment they always started by picking one of three windows. If the circle was not chosen, tears on my behalf would ensue. 

Back working in the CBD and an office this week, it is apparent that the favourite shape of the workplace are the rectangle and square.

Desks, monitors, meeting rooms, offices, partitions, doors, streets, windows, corridors. So may rectangles and squares, everywhere I move and everywhere I look.

I have not done any research about this, but I reckon the shapes we surround ourself with influence the way we interact and out ability to create. Straight lines are easy to build and put together, but I think they limit our ability to think about the connectedness of things, the blurring together of spaces and ideas.

In our natural habitat there is barely a straight line to be seen, let alone a corner. Coast lines, paths winding through forests, tree limbs, even the outline of our own bodies.

I would like to see different shapes brought into the places we move through and pause in. Shapes inspired by the world around us and what is inspiring for us, rather than efficiencies of building and construction.

A simple way to start is to bring the complex and fluid shapes of plants into our indoor environments.

Reflections on work: the first thing we do

When I get to the office I find the first thing I do is to go straight to my computer and fire it up to find out what it is telling me to do.

Why do I do this? Do I not know what I want to do for the day already?

I think I may be more effective if the first thing I do is something I had planned to do the night before, that did not involve a screen. Perhaps reading, or writing, or chatting with somebody. I wonder if I spent the first 15-30 mins of my day doing this whether I would have more ownership over my day.

Reflections on work: the weirdness of being in an office

I am working out of a co-working space with the organisation I have just joined. I love co-working spaces, but coming back into one I have a sense that while they are on the right track, the future of work looks nothing like what they currently look.

What I am imagining looks much more like a forest that an office. An urban forest. There is loads of natural light and plant life. It is weather proofed. It has places for people to meet under trees and on grass.

There is no pressure to be sitting at your desk because there is no desk. It is a beautiful gathering place for ideas to be shared and collaborations to be had, and then for people to go out into the wider world and do the work they need to do.

Coming back to an office for the first time, it just feels odd to be so removed from the outside world, to be in a bland space with sterile air and artificial light. I find myself wanting to just go for purposeless walks and be outside.

Reflections on work

I'm not sure if this will be dry or interesting, but over the next few days I am going to post my reflections on being back in paid employment after 18 months of working for myself.

I want to note what seems weird and strange and different this time round, before I become normalised to all this craziness.

A new mindset for a new job

Today I start a new job. Although it is not my own business and I am working for somebody else, I find myself thinking like an entrepreneur.

This could be due to this business being a relatively new business - a start-up. It could be because this business is about creating tech disruption within government departments for citizen oriented change.

It could be because after a year away from being employed I am able to see this job less as a career move and something I plan to do for the next five years, and more as an amazing challenge to engage in for this moment with unknown and exciting implications for whatever is next.

Sharing the amazing idea you have

I have this idea about writing a book. I think I can do it. It would be about using the crisis moments in life as platforms for dramatic personal growth and change. Specifically it would be about sharing my story of relationship breakdown and how that has been a moment of rebirth.

I write about this because I notice that when I start talking about things, I am more likely to start doing them. I find the opposite is true when it comes to conventional wisdom about ideas. If you choose to protect your idea because you think others my steal it, then it is less likely to become an actual think. Talking with people about it, especially people you trust and who will encourage you, will give your idea life and help it become a reality.

So there it is. A book. The first time I have told anybody. Let's see how long it takes to become a reality.