Untangling Time & Energy

Somewhere along the way you’ve probably been asked a question along the lines of ‘where are you spending your time & energy right now?’

You may have asked it yourself.

Time and energy are often paired together.

The answer to this question may contain a few elements, or it may contain one.

If we take a moment to think this question through, there are almost definitely multiple answers.

Time and energy may be connected, but knowing where the differences are is important.

And even if on face value the answer is the same, splitting these apart allows something else to appear that we may not expect.

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From Code School to Podcast School

Think back a decade or so.

How many kids did you see coding computers or hardware devices for fun?

Maybe you happened to be around a passionate engineering community, or instilled this curiosity in your own children at a young age, but chances are it was a pretty rare sight.

There were IT classes at school of course, but a lot of the focus was on learning how to use Microsoft Office, or perhaps writing some Perl or PHP script.

For the majority of young people, this was mandatory stuff to be done in their early teens. Something to tick off on the list of subjects to be studied and the grade to be acquired. Miles away from Final Fantasy and Football Manager.

And the barriers to owning your own computer were still pretty high.

Now it’s different.

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The rise of Edutainment

Education as business development (and beyond), teachers becoming more than just the new DJs, and the foundations of a big shift that’s here to stay.

 

At the start of 2018 I drafted an article entitled ‘Education is the new business development’.

It sat in my draft posts folder for way too long (this post explains why).

Here’s a taster of what I put together:

 

Media publishers can no longer rely on display ads, and a brand are less interested in just the media buy.

As a B2B sales software startup you can spend months trying to explain the benefits of your offering succinctly, let alone closing a deal.

If you’re tasked with heading up innovative ideas in a large company, a significant part of your workload is putting together information for internal teams to understand just what you’re up to and why they should care.

It’s tiring.

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Shipping, Unshipping and the Creative Handbrake

It’s now happened more times than I care to remember.

That feeling.

The shame. Frustration. Even self-loathing.

The impotence of not shipping it.

Not publishing, saving as draft, ignoring, deleting.

Holding it back, adding something else, flip-flopping.

The voice of the inner critic who’s seen all those other majestic experts effortless put their fluid, pithy or sophisticated work into the world.

The creative handbrake.

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Mind the Gap: A primer on Biases and Mental Models (slide deck)

Here’s an annotated and somewhat abbreviated version of a talk I did back in May for Hyper Island’s Learning Lab in New York City, focused on biases, decision making and mental models.

It wasn’t my initial intention to do this as a talk; I’d just collected a few snippets around the topic for my own learning purposes and had begun adding a few metaphors and examples to help build my understanding.

The area of biases and mental models is something I’ve long understood, but only to a very rudimentary level. Up until recently I’d never thought properly about what a confirmation bias actually is (or what it means), how Occam’s Razor can be used to help make a decision, or why we overly focus on the victors in business, sports, arts and life.

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How to facilitate your first class, workshop or training session

My most recent collaboration project launched last week at New York Climate Week.

Sustainable Foundations is a workshop series and email course helping to unpack and demystify sustainability for modern business.

During its creation I took some time to think about things I’ve learnt putting together similar education experiences [1], and also go back to a Beginner’s Mind approach.

I returned to the feeling of my first few sessions as a facilitator. It wasn’t pleasant but it was important to go there again, especially as someone who long detested any kind of public speaking and the exposure that went with it.

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Listening to other people’s conversations

Over the coming months I’ll be writing about my experiences as a student in the Coaching for Transformation program run by Leadership That Works. It’s a 9 month program for coaches from all backgrounds to level up their skills and attain their international coaching certification.

As you’d expect, a key part of the DNA of the course is aligned with that of a coach; specifics are confidential and absolutely not to be shared in a public forum.

However, there are plenty of more general concepts and ideas I’ve already picked up, and I hope these posts will provide some interesting insights into exploring a new set of skills and also understanding just a little bit more about the human condition.

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Intensity or Technique? You choose

boxing

In New York City there are a host of fitness studios offering innovative takes on a workout session.

One of these is a Box & Flow class. Ostensibly it’s for people who like boxing and yoga.

You get plenty of exercise from aerobic exercises, hitting the boxing bag, and yoga flow on the mat.

It’s varied, fast paced, energetic. And you sweat. You sweat a lot.

Of course, there’s a trade off. At that pace there isn’t time to check if your stance is correct, whether your power is coming from your hips as well as your fists, or the warrior two pose is  properly aligned.

So if you like boxing and yoga, the boxing & yoga class may not actually be what you’re looking for.

If you have more than a passing interest in one or both of these activities, you probably have a desire to also improve your technique, your craft, your knowledge.

It’s near-impossible to have it all at the same time, so you have to make a choice: focus on speed and intensity to get one kind of result, or on the technique and craft to get another. That means knowing what kind of trade-off you’re willing to make and the result you want to get.

We have to make these kinds of choices in other areas of our lives too, particularly in our work.

And if we don’t know which kind of result we want, we may end up with no benefit from increased intensity or technique.

The surprising thing is that a lot of the time we make these choices without really knowing why we’re making them.

So what’s it to be? Boxing, yoga, or a bit of both?

3 circles for managing control, influence, concern, and anxiety

A concept I came across earlier this Summer is that of 3 circles.

I first used it in a business growth and change management class I was teaching, but it’s come up several times recently with friends and clients who are feeling overwhelmed with projects to tackle, situations to manage, or decisions to make.

Circles of Control, Influence, Concern

The inner circle is the Circle of Control. In here is all the stuff we can have the power to directly ourselves. We can choose to send an email to someone, take a day off, or publish the blog post.

Second is the Circle of Influence.

And finally is the Circle of Concern. Here orbits everything else that we have an interest in, but we can do nothing about

Often our minds will wander out from our circle of control, into the circle of influence, and likely all the way out into that huge expanse that is the circle of concern.

Here we can do nothing to make our goals and desires happen, and our mind fills with nerves, worry, and existential dread.

When this happens we can just bring ourselves back to our circle of control.

Usually we’ll find there are a few things back here we’ve ignored, swept under the carpet or haven’t noticed before.

A nice side effect of owning our circle of control is items in the circle of influence suddenly draw closer towards and that enormous circle of concern becomes…well, less concerning.

What can you bring into your circle of control?

5 lessons from Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola

The latest in Amazon Prime’s ‘All or Nothing’ sports documentary series goes behind the scenes at the highly successful and somewhat polarizing English Premier League football team Manchester City.

Led by the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola, City swept all before them in the league last season, and the series goes behind the scenes of that 9 month journey.

There’s plenty to criticize; the lack of compelling story arc can leave a viewer cold, and frustratingly there’s not that much in the way of specific tactics and strategies used by Guardiola to motivate his side and outwit competitors, but there are a good few interesting insights to glean – for fans, coaches and business people alike.

Here are a few of them.

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