The Story Starts Here…

How difficult can it be? Everything is easy until you become committed to it. This is as true for writers writing as it is for readers reading or lovers loving. It’s neither the work or the person, it is the task itself. Every time it’s the devotion to the cause, that’s the problem.

Take a step into a bookshop and pick out something to read. You’re excited to start and you read the first couple of chapters rather quickly. Get midway through and each and every chapter seems to take ages. One page now feels like one chapter did at the beginning. This is the problem with commitment. Sure we all like the idea behind it. I love reading books, or writing or playing we tell ourselves. But when we mentally devote ourselves to that act we’re setting an expectation and the expectation is ‘if I commit to this, it will just happen’.

Nothing worthwhile ever ‘just happened’.

This is a problem because it’s become not a job or a hobby or a person that we love. Now it is a burden, a chore, something we have to do in spite of how we feel about it deep down. We have to see a result from all this hard graft, because it is work and work is what happens when you commit to something.

This is why so many relationships fail at the point of commitment. We realise that now there has to be something to show for the time we are spending with this person. There has to be an escalation, holding someones hand for the first time becomes a first kiss, that kiss becomes a passionate relationship which becomes a young family which becomes…

It’s the worst kind of one-upmanship : trying to one-up yourself. It never ends in success only frustration.

Can we all just learn to relax a little please?

Un essaim de puces.


To quote Sarah Jones, the market has become a swarm of fleas (it sounds better in French, for sure).


Short attention spans, flitting from place to place, a hit-and-run culture. It’s practically a flea circus…


Marketers are more like circus ringmasters than ever before. Far better, it seems, to concentrate on the few (fleas) willing to slow down, the few willing to stop acting that way and actually pay attention and stick around.

Seth’s blog.

The Constant Talker

Minimalism in communication is a big deal. Through my career I have had feedback from managers to keep “on message” or get to the point as succinctly as possible if you want to get people on your side.

Email is a prime way you can easily fall into the trap of being verbose. Ask yourself the question : is this the best way to get information across? Is the person I am sending this to wanting to read three paragraphs of dense text, or would they prefer a 30sec phone call or face to face chat?

There’s a guy I work with who has a compulsion to speak, it’s like he tries to talk people into submission. Why would you do that? I have even given him feedback to think about what he says and before he starts talking consider whether he has something valuable to bring to the conversation. Instead he starts talking and doesn’t listen to the other person.

My philosophy is this, if it’s written communication use the 4 sentences or less rule. If you can’t get your message across in that space, you don’t understand it well enough yourself. Practice editing your emails before you send them.

For verbal communication, do the same thing by thinking first. In a group discussion speak if you really have something to bring to the table if not, shut up! Learn to read people so you know when they get bored of listening to you, and hopefully learn to stop before it gets to that stage.

I’m a big fan of quotations. I admire people who say profound things, but we can all do that. Let me give you an example…

"I make all my decisions on intuition. But then, I must know why I made that decision. I throw a spear into the darkness. That is intuition. Then I must send an army into the darkness to find the spear. That is intellect." - Ingmar Bergman

That is a great quote! It’s thought provoking and deeply meaningful. As a result I imagine Ingmar Bergman to be a deep and thoughtful individual. But maybe he isn’t? I’ve never seen any of his films (though I intend to) he could be a complete fool? So why do I think he is deep and thoughtful?

That comment is taken out of context, perhaps his next sentence would of been utter gibberish! But because there is a space around that quote, because it is separate from anything else he said, because it is surrounded by white space much like a page in a book or magazine with large borders, because of that it is beautiful.

Don’t be afraid to allow yourself time to think before speaking, that’s the white space that makes what you say stand out.

From the moment I picked up your book until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it. - Groucho Marx

There can be few pleasures in life as minimal as reading a good book. I enjoy finding a quiet corner in a cafe in town and settling down to read, in between sips of Yerba maté tea that is!

Maybe though you are, as I was, finding it increasingly difficult to concentrate? To switch off your brain and focus only on that one task? In these times of e-book readers and internet access in your pocket, distractions surround us. Think about it, I bet the last time you used your computer to do some “serious work” you were also listening to music and had a couple of web pages open in the background?

Sometimes multi tasking is important and even productive for people, but for me the negatives outweigh the positives. I have decided 2011 is the year of single tasking! However, let’s get back to talking about reading and save the advantages of single-tasking for another post!

Reading is every bit as much about the process as any activity, so let’s break it down :

Selecting what to read.
Choosing a time and place.
Focus on the reading.
Selecting what to read - obviously this depends very much on personal preference but I want to share something that has given me a new love of reading, it’s a Kindle. Having recently bought one I find it makes the process of cuing up books to read simple. I can have three or four books on the go at once. Are you the kind of person who cannot walk through a bookshop without picking up two or three new reads? With a Kindle you can make a note of those books and purchase them on the Kindle store. Doing this I have reduced three metres of bookshelf space down to one tiny gadget that stores all these books and more!

I would also recommend the website www.goodreads.com it’s great for finding new books to read based on books you have already read.

Choosing a time and place - My recommendation here is to pick somewhere if possible with a nice view. Part of the enjoyment of reading comes from pausing to reflect on a passage you have read, having something interesting to look at occasionally helps the brain process what you are reading and gives a nice break for your eyes. As for a time, choose a time when you know you won’t be disturbed and schedule it in your diary as you would do for any other appointment. Enjoying reading can initially be hard work! So do whatever it takes to force yourself in these early days, then when you are more settled into the process you can be more relaxed about scheduling.

Focus on the reading - so we have got a great article to read or a book picked out, we’ve found a great place where we feel comfortable and relaxed, now all we need to do is just read right? Hopefully yes, it will be that easy, but for some it may not be enjoyable right away. As mentioned above, it may feel like work even, but thats ok. We have learnt to become multi-tasking maestros and the act of doing one thing and one thing alone can freak us out initially. I would suggest unlearning this behaviour by setting a certain amount of time for reading and then gradually increasing this period. Remember practice makes perfect!

I’d be really interested to see how/when/what other’s approach to reading is so let me know!

From the moment I picked up your book until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it. - Groucho Marx

There can be few pleasures in life as minimal as reading a good book. I enjoy finding a quiet corner in a cafe in town and settling down to read, in between sips of Yerba maté tea that is!

Maybe though you are, as I was, finding it increasingly difficult to concentrate? To switch off your brain and focus only on that one task? In these times of e-book readers and internet access in your pocket, distractions surround us. Think about it, I bet the last time you used your computer to do some “serious work” you were also listening to music and had a couple of web pages open in the background?

Sometimes multi tasking is important and even productive for people, but for me the negatives outweigh the positives. I have decided 2011 is the year of single tasking! However, let’s get back to talking about reading and save the advantages of single-tasking for another post!

Reading is every bit as much about the process as any activity, so let’s break it down :

Selecting what to read.
Choosing a time and place.
Focus on the reading.


Selecting what to read - obviously this depends very much on personal preference but I want to share something that has given me a new love of reading, it’s a Kindle. Having recently bought one I find it makes the process of cuing up books to read simple. I can have three or four books on the go at once. Are you the kind of person who cannot walk through a bookshop without picking up two or three new reads? With a Kindle you can make a note of those books and purchase them on the Kindle store. Doing this I have reduced three metres of bookshelf space down to one tiny gadget that stores all these books and more!

I would also recommend the website www.goodreads.com it’s great for finding new books to read based on books you have already read.

Choosing a time and place - My recommendation here is to pick somewhere if possible with a nice view. Part of the enjoyment of reading comes from pausing to reflect on a passage you have read, having something interesting to look at occasionally helps the brain process what you are reading and gives a nice break for your eyes. As for a time, choose a time when you know you won’t be disturbed and schedule it in your diary as you would do for any other appointment. Enjoying reading can initially be hard work! So do whatever it takes to force yourself in these early days, then when you are more settled into the process you can be more relaxed about scheduling.

Focus on the reading - so we have got a great article to read or a book picked out, we’ve found a great place where we feel comfortable and relaxed, now all we need to do is just read right? Hopefully yes, it will be that easy, but for some it may not be enjoyable right away. As mentioned above, it may feel like work even, but thats ok. We have learnt to become multi-tasking maestros and the act of doing one thing and one thing alone can freak us out initially. I would suggest unlearning this behaviour by setting a certain amount of time for reading and then gradually increasing this period. Remember practice makes perfect!

I’d be really interested to see how/when/what other’s approach to reading is so let me know!

Distraction

Some great info in an article over at the Harvard Business Review

"We confuse the package with the message. We get so distracted by the awkward, sometimes inappropriate way in which someone is communicating that we miss what the person is communicating.”

Here’s the real issue: we are all clumsy communicators — both in what we say and in what we hear.”

As a general rule, assume clumsiness. Picture someone who is moving fast, trying to get a lot done, and not skilled at communicating perfectly. Assume they’re not a jerk. Overlook their inelegance.”