On dealing with critics

At some point in your journey, you will meet a critic. Someone who decides it’s their duty to attempt to knock you down (usually for reasons unknown to you and because of their own insecurities). It’s as certain as gravity.

When it happens, consider doing two things:

  1. Lookup your all time favourite book on Amazon, and read the 1-star reviews. The Harry Potter series, for example, has thousands of them despite being a #1 best seller. Thousands! Turns out you’re not alone.
  2. Remind yourself of what George Herbert once wrote:

“Living well is the best revenge.”

Recent reads and listens – February edition

G’day curious legend.

It’s the end of the month which means it’s time for me to send you a bespoke and made-to-measure collection of books and podcasts to provoke some noodling for you over the next month.

Let’s dive in:

If you’re telling yourself a story you need to be better at time management:

Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman is sure to elbow you in the ribs.

If you’re looking for a novel that confronts our relationship with the environment:

Bewilderment by Richard Powers will make you pause and think.

If you’re interested in a no-bullshit take on philosophy and ethics:

Try this interview with Michael Schur.

If you’re a fanboy of Debbie Millman’s interview style (just like me):

Don’t miss this interview where she was the one being interviewed by Brené Brown.

In the meantime, keep being awesome.

Get better together

The best way to get better at a skill isn’t by memorising facts so that you can regurgitate them in a multiple-choice test taken in a sweaty exam hall in the middle of summer. If it were, you’d still remember how to do algebra and long division (shout out to the maths nerds who do still remember, you’re the exception to my rule).

No, the best way to learn is by practicing skills that interest you with other people doing the same. It’s to be in a space where you can ask questions and be curious. To give and receive feedback. To watch others and reflect on how you can learn from them.

Or, as my friend Jen said far more eloquently in this podcast: “get better by surrounding yourself with other people who are also getting better.” 

A lesson on writing

I was recently struck by this metaphorical punch in the gut from William Zinsser’s book On Writing Well:

The essence of writing is rewriting.”

The best writer in the world doesn’t sit down and create a finished, polished, publishable piece. They sit down, they write and they dance with the voice that tells them it’s terrible. Then they review. Then rewrite. Then dance with the voice some more. Then repeat this process. Over and over again until eventually, it molds itself into something worth sharing.

Day by day, word by word, iteration by iteration.

The lesson I take is that if you, like me, feel stuck every once in a while (ie every day) start by giving yourself something (anything) to react to.

Journal prompts worth trying

A random selection of tried and tested prompts for you to noodle on. See if you can fill a page based on one of the below:

  • Right now I’m feeling…
  • 10 awesome things that happened today are…
  • Where am I most often experiencing friction in my day?
  • What’s the hard part?
  • A successful day for me looks like…
  • Who am I becoming?
  • What would 80 year old me say to current day me?

Once you’ve picked one of these the process might look something like this:

Grab a new notepad out of the cupboard > spend 10min summoning up the courage to put ink onto the beautiful fresh pages > write the neatest first 3 lines you’ve ever written, as if you were back in grade 3 going for your pen license > swear under your breath as you realise you misspelled a word > in your frustration to scribble out said word spill coffee all over the fresh pages of your brand new notepad > swear under breath some more > revert back to your regular, barely legible writing technique on your now coffee-stained page.

The joys of introspection. Go go go.

Recent reads and listens – January edition

Well hey there legend 👋🏽.

Here’s your very own artisanally crafted and hand-picked collection of books and podcasts to provoke some noodling:

If you’re looking for a refreshingly honest take on the journey to being world-class:

Will by Will Smith has got you covered.

If you loved the Octopus Teacher documentary and are curious to learn more of the backstory (complete with incredible photos):

Underwater Wild by Craig Foster and Ross Frylinck

If you’re wondering what it sounds like to reinvent your life:

Try this interview with Rich Roll.

If you’re still chuckling at, or curious about, the story of me hitting my head from this previous post (🤦🏽‍♂️):

This interview on Tommy Jackett’s new podcast, Tomversations

That’s it for this month, friend. Keep being awesome and I’ll see you in your inbox next week.

PS. If you have a friend who you think would love to join you in reading these posts, consider forwarding it on with the subject line “New noods for you” (it’s been at least 3 months since I made that joke).

Two questions for the great resignation/reshuffle/reevaluation

How do you want to feel at the end of a work day? What are you doing to help create that feeling?

Because yes, it’s worth reevaluating whether your work environment is serving you, AND it’s also worth reevaluating how your habits are serving you.

Put another way: the best job in the world won’t feel that way if you eat pizza, drink beer and get 4 hours of sleep every night.

The pain of not paying attention

Earlier today I almost knocked myself out on a door frame (the joys of being 6″7′).

I was shocked at first, confused about what just happened. Then annoyed at the person who designed and built the door frame this particular height.

Eventually, I came to realise I simply hadn’t been paying attention. I had been lost in thought.

That in order to avoid having a large egg-shaped lump on my cranium all I needed to do was: a) pay attention to my surroundings and b) duck my head.

Reverse engineering this unfortunate incident makes me wonder:

  1. Where are you experiencing the pain of a metaphorical lump on your head?
  2. What weren’t you paying attention to that allowed it to happen? (ie what’s the metaphorical door frame?)
  3. How might you fix it? (ie what’s the equivelant of ducking your head?)

Discomfort can often be avoided if we first pay attention.

Mood follows action

If you wait until you’re in the right mood to put the bins out you might find yourself waking to the sound of the garbage truck as you swear under your breath and your partner asks “did you remember to put the bins out last night?”

Of course you didn’t remember, you were too busy waiting to be in the right mood.

The same is true with having a difficult conversation, starting (or quitting) a project or going for a run.

It’s unlikely you’ll be in the right mood before taking action, instead we can choose to intentionally take action and then allow the mood to follow.

Put another way: waiting for the right mood is a form of hiding.

See this interview with Rich Roll for more on this idea.

Recent reads and listens – December edition

The end of the year is approaching and so here are a hand-picked selection of books and podcasts that made me think, laugh, and do some noodlin’ in December.

My hope is they do the same for you:

If you want to read something that will make you laugh until you cry:

Is This Anything? by Jerry Seinfeld (I reread this in the spirit of trying to bring some levity to the end of a crazy and bizarre year).

If you fancy a book that will help you rethink scaling your impact:

 Who Not How – Dan Sullivan

If you’re curious about meaningful connection and the human experience:

This 3 part podcast from Brené Brown talking with her sisters about her new book.

If you’re looking for some great background music to study/work to:

This always on mix by YouTuber Lofi Girl.

That’s it for this month. Wishing you all a happy New Year!

PS. If you’re curious what some of my favourite resources for the year 2021 were, checkout this podcast with my cohost Jen.