Think Big … Act Small

Think Big … Act Small

I seem to have been getting the same message from a few different places this week! I’ve been reading ‘The One Thing’, a practical book about getting things done by focusing on one single task at a time. In order to work out which task we should be doing, authors Gary Keller and Jay Papasan suggest that we need to start by thinking big – good advice that you will hear in virtually every goal setting book and blog post out there. What I like about their approach is how they go on to argue that we then need to start working on the smallest possible task that will move […]

Integrity Is A Verb

Integrity Is A Verb

“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.” CS Lewis This quote is one of my favourites, and one that I thought I was trying to live by. However, I’ve been reading the excellent ‘Legacy’ this week, which is a book about what we can all learn from the New Zealand All Blacks. It’s a really good read, with plenty of practical advice, and an inspiring section about what integrity means to the All Blacks. Looking again at the CS Lewis quote, I’d never really paid much attention to the third word before. The ‘doing’ part of the equation. I’d been thinking of integrity as connected […]

Bold Humility

Bold Humility

“Humility is the most over-rated of human emotions.” So says Harvey Mackay in his book, “Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive”. When I read that, I was horrified. Most people that I admire have a degree of humility about them – along with integrity, it’s one of the things that I think are fundamental to living a good life. Cultural historian Warren Susman talks about the difference between a Culture of Personality and a Culture of Character. A person who is personality-based focuses on what other people think of them, whereas someone motivated by the character ethic is more driven by their internal morals and values. Mackay calling […]

4-minute miles and 2-hour marathons

4-minute miles and 2-hour marathons

Last weekend in Berlin, Eliud Kipchoge set a new world record for the marathon of 2:01:39. He averaged 4:38 per mile, and took an astonishing 78 seconds off the previous record. Kipchoge has trained for years in order to set that world record. For decades he has monitored his diet and sleeping habits, has run hundreds of miles a week and spent countless hours in the gym, all to get his body into the best condition possible. Without that physical preparation, he couldn’t run the way he does. But there’s another side to the story. Back in 1954, Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile barrier. Before Bannister’s run, most people […]

Letting Go v Holding On

Letting Go v Holding On

I have been interested in Chinese martial arts for as long as I can remember – and whether I was watching the ‘Kung Fu’ TV series, or Bruce Lee in ‘Enter the Dragon’, it was always the philosophy that caught my attention more than the physical side. I’ve been re-reading “The Shaolin Grandmaster’s Text”, and there’s an interesting point in there about how if you ever find yourself in a confrontation, in their view this is regarded as a ‘failure’. The idea is that you should be able to anticipate potential issues, and deal with them long before they become problems. One of the ways to do this is to […]

What Can You Do With 10 Minutes A Day?

What Can You Do With 10 Minutes A Day?

Is there anything you’ve always wanted to learn? Maybe a language? A musical instrument? Or how to build a website? One of the things that holds most of us back is the idea that the thing we want to learn is too big – when you’re just starting out, it can seem overwhelming. You’re probably familiar with the old joke about how to eat an elephant … the answer is ‘one bite at a time’. I think we all know this, but it can be something that’s difficult to apply in real life. Taking that one bite – especially the first one – seems a bit pointless. It doesn’t feel […]

We Can Always Do Better

We Can Always Do Better

When we work on something that we care about, knowing when to stop can be hard. You tell yourself to keep editing … You care enough to keep making those infinitesimal changes that only you can see, because you want it to be absolutely perfect before anyone else reads/hears/sees your work. But of course nothing is ever perfect – everything can be improved … And the most frustrating thing is that you usually notice the improvements the very moment it’s too late to do something about it. And you use that as an excuse to tell yourself to work harder – to be even more careful next time. But next […]

Is Technology a Symptom or a Cause?

Is Technology a Symptom or a Cause?

After hearing his TED talk, I became very interested in what Tristan Harris was doing at the Centre for Humane Technology. Essentially, he is one of a growing number of tech experts who are concerned about the impact technology – particularly social media – is having on us both as individuals, and society as a whole. With research showing that ‘pull to refresh’ features activate the same part of our brains as fruit machines, it’s easy to see where there might be a problem. If you knew a child who spent three or four hours a day playing fruit machines, you’d probably be concerned – and rightly so. There’s no […]

Setting Goals v Acquiring Skills

Setting Goals v Acquiring Skills

“Man is a goal setting machine,” said Aristotle, more than 2000 years ago. That message has been echoed time and again by lots of very smart people in the intervening years by everyone from Seneca through to Benjamin E. Mays. I’ve had some success with goal setting, but the simple fact is that none of us achieve every goal we set ourselves. Using the idea that goals are set in stone but that deadlines are flexible is one way to deal with the ‘disappointment’ of not hitting a goal as quickly as you’d hoped, but I recently came across another way of thinking about goals that has really helped me, […]

Should NGOs do an Amazon?

Should NGOs do an Amazon?

The five Big Tech companies together are valued at about $3.5billion. The entire UK economy generates around $2.6billion. The combined influence of Apple, Alphabet (who own Google), Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft is extraordinary, affects all of our lives on a daily basis, and is only going to increase. Amazon purchased Whole Foods last year, and this week the rights to some Premier League football – which Facebook were also interested in. Speaking of Facebook, they are reportedly spending upwards of $1bn on original content for Facebook Watch, due this summer. These companies are only going to get bigger – who might their next targets be? Tesco? Next? Coca-Cola? Over the […]