Professionals come in two varieties…

“But there are two basic kinds of professional, Harkness saw in a moment of self-congratulatory illumination. There’s the professionalism that does something well enough to earn a living from it. And there’s the professionalism that creates a commitment so intense that the earning of a living happens by the way. Its dynamic isn’t wages but the determination to do something as well as it can be done.

Laidlaw was the second type of professional. Harkness realised it was a very uncomfortable thing to be because, in their work, ‘well’ involved not just results but the morality by which you arrived at them. He thought of Laidlaw’s capacity to bring constant doubt to what he was doing and still try to do it. The pressure must be severe.”

From “Laidlaw” by William McIlvanney

The Binge Listen #1 – Don’t Tell Me The Score

I came across the “Don’t Tell Me The Score” podcast a week or so ago and have listened to the eleven episodes whilst wrestling with wood over the past couple of days – one great advantage of the ear protectors that I employ whilst using the chain-saw is that they both isolate me and keep my headphones in place.

The premise of this BBC Radio 4 podcast is that sport can teach us a great deal about life. Presenter Simon Mundie interviews at length his guest, who has direct association with sport as a player, coach, writer, or scientist. I particularly enjoyed Ben Ryan on Motivation, Mike Brearley on Leadership and James Kerr on Legacy. There are lessons to be learned from each and every episodes and I thoroughly recommend it. More books to read! If they are as good as “Legacy” then I’m going to enjoy myself.

Available from all good podcast sources and the BBC website.

PS – One small criticism – Simon I do wish you wouldn’t keep mentioning England winning the Rugby World Cup in 2003 as if it was the greatest achievement in history – or indeed a surprise. Whilst it sticks in my craw to say it they were the best team both in the tournament and during the year leading up to it, so victory was deserved.

 

War and Peace 45 years on…

It’s never too late to set new goals or to revisit old ones and, as long as you persist, just about anything is achievable (even passing A-levels).

I eventually passed my A-levels in August 1973, (with grateful thanks to the lecturers at Harrogate Tech). I asked my father if he could get me a copy of War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, the book, or rather books as there were two volumes, was published by William Collins for whom my Dad worked, based in their office in the Corn Exchange in Leeds.

Then, as now, whenever I buy a new book I sign my name and the date inside the front cover.

The scrawl has become more flamboyant and less decipherable over the years but is still recognisable.

I had started to read Tolstoy’s Magnum Opus at several times since then, but never got beyond the first chapter. This summer, 45 years on from that date in August 1973 I determined to get through both volumes, in all 1443 pages, by the end of the year. I put aside 30 minutes after lunch and when I had finished work every day whilst at home, but as I travel a good deal there were gaps between sessions. Thankfully there are relatively short chapters so it was straightforward to complete the day’s task at convenient points.

This “small steps” approach did the trick, I was able to get involved in the plot lines and the characters  of the novel without having to rush. Tolstoy’s writing is wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed the tale of Russia in the first two decades of the 19th Century. It’s a great book and I recommend it to you, there are lessons to  learn that still apply to each of us in our daily lives.

The point about goals being 1)Specific, 2)Measurable, 3)Achievable, 4)Relevant and 5)Timely, is well made. In this case, I wanted to read the book from beginning to end, so that takes care of 1) & 2). I can read and short of going under a bus (or my finding the book unreadable) I knew I could manage 3). It was relevant to my overall life plan 4) which includes tackling some “big” reads and 5) I set an end point of December 31st 2018, knowing that if I had to do some catching up I had the Christmas period to complete the task.

Should you be setting goals in your business or personal life then I hope this might inspire you.

PS when we moved into our home in West Cork five years ago, there were no fewer than three separate volumes of War & Peace amongst our books – the enthusiasm had obviously been there but we had allowed life to get in the way.


The Monday Morning Quote #503

 

“We see the world, not as it is, but as we are – or, as we are conditioned to see it.”

Stephen R. Covey

 

Our society is being highjacked

Thanks to Cal Newport for pointing me towards this site in his latest Study Hacks blogpost, “Beyond Digital Ethics”.

He talks about the work of Tristan Harris and The Centre for Humane Technology from whose website I have taken a page.

What began as a race to monetize our attention is now eroding the pillars of our society: mental healthdemocracysocial relationships, and our children.

What we feel as addiction is part of something much bigger.

There’s an invisible problem that’s affecting all of society.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google have produced amazing products that have benefited the world enormously. But these companies are also caught in a zero-sum race for our finite attention, which they need to make money. Constantly forced to outperform their competitors, they must use increasingly persuasive techniques to keep us glued. They point AI-driven news feeds, content, and notifications at our minds, continually learning how to hook us more deeply—from our own behavior.

Unfortunately, what’s best for capturing our attention isn’t best for our well-being:

  • Snapchat turns conversations into streaks, redefining how our children measure friendship.
  • Instagram glorifies the picture-perfect life, eroding our self worth.
  • Facebook segregates us into echo chambers, fragmenting our communities.
  • YouTube autoplays the next video within seconds, even if it eats into our sleep.

These are not neutral products.
They are part of a system designed to addict us.

Take a look here.

 

 

The Product Is Not Enough

From the always stimulating Bob Lefsetz – his main thing is music but the lessons apply to most businesses (including my own!)

If you build it they will not come.

Your challenge is getting noticed.

So you may be sitting at home, in your beautiful house, with your beautiful wife, asking me…DIDN’T YOU SAY JUST THE COMPLETE OPPOSITE?

Yes, in the last decade. Things changed. Bob Dylan sang about that, but no one seems to realize the puck keeps moving, and media ain’t hockey, the rules change too.

In a world where people are overwhelmed by content, they don’t want to hear about yours. And the problem is great content gets cast aside as well as horrible content. You did the work and nothing is happening, what’s up?

It’s not your fault. You just have to find a way to run the gauntlet…..

…..Sure, the work is most important.

But that’s when the job is just beginning….

…..Building success is a job and a science unto itself.

Think about it…..

….PS Social networking is for satiating your fans, it’s not where you break your career.

As for promotional stunts, rarely do they succeed, it’s more about hard work.

Link to the full article HERE

 

The Weekend Read. Silence by Erling Kagge.

I thought I would start the New Year with a mention for this absolute gem of a book. It follows on beautifully from Deep Work and Solitude which I have mentioned before. I am grateful to my neighbours Walt and Ann from the other side of the hill here at ReesAcres for their recommendation. They are both mountaineers as is Erling Kagge the book’s author.

We live in a world that is full of noise. Traffic, mobile phones, radio, TV and the other machinery of modern man all conspire to disturb, interrupt and distract us. From what do they distract us? The purity of silence.

Kagge has had a career as a lawyer, publisher and politician but it as an explorer that he has wider acclaim. He was the first person to walk to the South Pole and he describes how he removed the batteries from his radio before exiting the ‘plane at the drop off point. In 1994 he became the first to complete the “Three Poles challenge” – reaching the North & South Poles and the summit of Everest.

These 33 short essays are as much about finding solitude and inner silence and I particularly liked his addressing the need for a control of the chaos in our minds, where we all too often submit to the “noise” of constant sensory input. The quotation of Blaise Pascal’s words of wisdom from the 1600s, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone”, struck home. (Are you listening in The White House?)

A lovely little book, that I hope will help you want to experience more silence from this age of noise.

 

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