Recent reads (and listens) – September edition

A small selection of books and podcasts that made me think, laugh, cry and do some noodlin’ in September:

For the mouth breathers in the house (ie anyone looking for mind blowing science and insight into the way we breathe):

Breath – James Nestor

For a fictional, hilarious and at times painfully accurate take on humanity:

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

For a ‘I need to pause this and write that quote down’ podcast interview on entrepreneurship and family:

Suneel Gupta on Design Matters.

For the perfect mix of comedy and intellect:

Absolutely Mental – with Ricky Gervais and Sam Harris is back with Season 2.

PS. Do you love feeling useful? Then share this blog with a friend or two and put your feet up knowing you’ve done a good deed for the day.

Birds and change

In her best selling book Bird by Bird, Anne Lammott tells a great story about her brother rushing to finish a school assignment on birds at the last minute.

He was overwhelmed at the magnitude of the project and impending deadline until their father sat down beside him, placed a hand on his shoulder and said:

“Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”

It serves as an amazing (and at times annoying) reminder that the small actions we take consistently compound over time to create change.

Framed as a question, because that’s how we roll around here: What would it look like to suspend your obsession (and worry) of the desired outcome and instead just take it bird by bird?

Fill in the blanks

Some good old fashioned fill in the blanks to provoke some noodling. You might pick one, three, all or none, there is no right answer. Write as much or as little as you like.

Most of all, make a mess and enjoy. It’s called noodling for a reason.

My super power is ___________

I could make more space to use it by ___________

The three people I go to when seeking feedback are ___________, ___________, and ___________

If I had all the time and money in the world I would spend my time___________

Success for me is ___________

When I’m 90 and I look back on my life I hope to think ___________

I want to be remembered as ___________

I spend too much time ___________ and not enough time ___________

This current chapter of my life is all about ___________

I currently feel stuck ___________

16 ways I could get unstuck are ___________

I am grateful for ___________

These fill in the blanks make me want to ___________

A question on your habits

Is what you’re doing today getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow?

Because, thanks to the compound effect, if you get 1% better at something every single day, then on day 72 you’ll be twice as good as when you started. See this post on the magic of 1%.

Thanks to my amazing girlfriend for writing this question on a sticky note and putting it on my desk this week. I didn’t realise how much I needed to hear it. Maybe you do too.

Disproportionate returns

Three examples of actions you can take that have a disproportionate reward for effort and positive return:

  1. Buying a beautiful bunch of flowers costs between $20-$40 and has the potential to provide joy and calm to you and anyone else who lives in your house for 1-2 weeks. A pretty great dollar:joy ratio by most measures.
  2. Saying a genuine and heartfelt thank you to someone in your life costs a mere 30 seconds and has the potential to strengthen your ongoing relationship with them for days, weeks, months, and even years to come. A very worthwhile time:connection practice.
  3. Checking in with everyone in your team by asking, in one sentence, how they are feeling or what they are excited about costs 5 minutes of a 50-minute meeting and has the potential to make everyone feel seen and heard. At just 10% of the allotted meeting time, this is a hard to rival time:empathy situation.

And so, as you ponder this nood (short for noodle for those of you just joining us), consider:

What small actions can you practice that have a disproportionate reward for effort and positive return?

Recent reads (and listens) – August edition

A small selection of books and podcasts that made me think, laugh, cry and do some noodlin’ in August:

For anyone seeking a (very) practical guide to making better decisions

How To Decide by Annie Duke.

For a fictional and captivating escape back in time to Darwin, Australia during WWII:

All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton

For those ready to laugh so hard you have to pause the podcast:

Any episode of Smartless will do the trick, including this recent interview with Octavia Spencer

For a healthy example of what it sounds like to model vulnerability:

Ryan Shelton on The Imperfects.

PS. Do you love sharing useful, noodle-worthy resources with others? Then share this blog with some friends and sit back and relax knowing you did a good deed for the day.

Basketball and the stories we tell ourselves

Imagine a game of basketball comes down to the last play. There’s 1 second to go, scores are level and someone hits a shot right on the buzzer to win the game.

The fans of the winning team go nuts, jumping out of their chairs screaming, hugging and high-fiving one another (it’s a pre-COVID game of basketball after all).

The fans of the losing team slump forward in their chairs, throw their hats on the ground and look for the exit.

The neutral fan is somewhere in the middle, in awe of what a great game they witnessed and not as invested in the result as the other two parties.

Everyone in the crowd has seen the exact same series of events and ascribes an entirely different meaning to said events. This meaning, depending on who they choose to support, then shapes how they feel, behave and respond to others.

Without the basketball analogy: We each create our own meaning of things that we see/read/hear/consume.

Of course, this isn’t only true in a hypothetical game of basketball.

So the thing that has me scratching my noodle, puffing my imaginary pipe and peering out the window over my spectacles is: What am I choosing to give meaning to? What would it look like if I didn’t?

The truth about great teachers

They can change your life in 30 seconds.

It could be by asking a great question, challenging you to step up or installing a magic blue table.

The good news is there are a myriad of ways teachers open doors and turn on lights for others, so it’s worth pondering:

  1. What would it look like to thank the great teachers in my life?
  2. How might I seek to be a great teacher for others?

Thanks to Jim Collins’ 2016 blog for the reminder and the brilliant Robbie Wood for sharing it with me.

Worldviews and chocolate frogs

A couple of weeks ago I received the following message from my brother:

“If you are what you eat, then you think what you read.”

These last five words struck me as profoundly true.

That is: that our thoughts, beliefs, dreams, fears, doubts and insecurities are shaped by the things we consume. Be it books, news articles, social media, TV shows, movies, podcasts, advertisements and anything in between.

With this in mind, I see two things worth noodling on:

  1. What am I reading and consuming?
  2. How is it serving me?

Also, full credit to my sister who, within minutes of receiving the same message, replied:

“I guess that makes me a chocolate frog.”

Humility is a superpower

Practicing humility can allow us to:

  • Be open to feedback
  • Uncover blindspots
  • Hear solutions we might not have thought of
  • Empower others to speak up and lead
  • Learn things we wouldn’t otherwise know
  • Expand our worldview
  • Foster self-awareness
  • Create meaningful connections with others

Put another away: When we realise we don’t know everything (nor do we have to) and neither does our boss, then we open the door to possibility and connection.

Nobody knows everything but together we know a lot.

Recent reads (and listens) – July edition

A small selection of books and podcasts that made me lean back in my chair, puff my imaginary pipe and scratch my noodle in July:

For those wanting to develop a writing practice:

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.

For those wondering just how irrational we humans are:

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely.

For those wanting to understand how to cultivate, build and maintain trust in their work:

The Future Is Trust by Rick Kitagawa and Lisa Lambert.

For those wondering how to think about relationships during, and in the wake of, a pandemic

Esther Perel on Armchair Expert.

PS. Are you the kind of person who loves sharing noodle-worthy resources with others, so that they too can puff their imaginary pipes and gaze out the window in deep thought? Then simply forward this blog to some friends, have them subscribe, and get back to watching the Olympics. You’re welcome.

Find and Replace

One of my favourite functions when writing or editing documents is the ol’ ‘find and replace’ (clearly I live a pretty exciting life).

As the name suggests, it allows you to search an entire document for a word or phrase and then replace it with another. Genius.

It’s also a useful strategy for those of us looking to develop skills and habits.

For example, I am working on:

Finding moments where I mindlessly scroll social media and replacing them with moments where I write ideas for blogs.

Finding moments where I attempt to multitask and replacing them with moments where I am deliberately focussed on one thing at a time.

Finding moments where I complain and replacing them with moments where I am grateful.

It’s not as easy as it is in a word document, but intentionally changing our behaviour rarely is.

What about you? What might you find and replace?