Pessimists just aren’t nice to be around. All that doom and gloom drags you down. The attitude of helplessness is draining. On the other hand, excessive optimism can be just as frustrating – particularly when it ignores the fact that there’s work to be done. Where’s the balance? It’s not about thinking everything will work out, but we do need to continually believe in the possibility of finding a solution. What we need is persistent, realistic optimism.
In 1999, I took part in a cycling trip across Cuba. 26 year old me was 100% certain of himself – convinced he knew everything, and that anyone who saw things differently simply needed to be ‘educated’ with the ‘facts’ [as I saw them], and that if those ‘facts’ didn’t change your mind, then you must be an idiot. [Yeah – 26 year old me was a dick.] Anyway – on the bike tour, about 50 strangers met at Heathrow Airport and set off. On our first night in Havana, we were all sat together, laughing and joking, excited about our upcoming adventure. I mentioned to the lady next to […]
There is a difference between confidence and certainty. Certainty is when we have 100% confidence – we are utterly convinced that we are right. We’ve done all the research, and all our information is completely correct and undeniable … this 100% confidence shuts down conversation. Certainty closes doors – it stops people disagreeing with you. And it closes you to other – possibly better – options. Confidence is important, otherwise we can just end up procrastinating … but if we want the people around us to be at their best, then we have to give them space to voice their opinions. We all have to be open to the possibility […]
“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 […]
“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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
When we are confronted with a challenging situation, our first instinct is to just make it go away as quickly as possible. The tendency is to look for the quickest and simplest solution, but this may not always be the best idea. Our greatest successes usually come when we can move to what Shane Parrish calls ‘Second-Order Thinking’ – the ability to dig a bit deeper, and consider the broader implications and longer-term consequences of our decisions. There was a brilliant article in The Atlantic this week that highlights this. Alex Wagner contrasts the difference in how Starbucks and ABC dealt with their recent racism issues. [These links have more […]