Phrases I really really dislike #1

I was going to start a countdown of these, but I’m not sure how many there would be, so I’m going to start with 1, the beginning, a very good place to start – as Julie Andrews once so chirpily put it.

I just overheard one of my worst:

When were you not honest?

Has everything that you’ve said prior to this been a big lie?

Do you in fact lie about everything IF you don’t say “If I’m honest” first?

People seem to use it to try to get to the end of a conversation, as their final input, i.e “If I’m honest, this just isn’t a good idea.”

Well then why not just say that to begin with instead of all the beating around the bush you’ve been doing.

Or maybe try “My final point is that I just don’t think it’s a good idea.”

But above all I’d suggest taking it out. Just say what you think, don’t wrap it up in cotton wool. And always, ALWAYS be honest! 

To err is human…..

So, I’m sitting on the train and the buffet cart is a few seats in front of me. A woman comes up and orders a cup of coffee. The server says that she is not allowed to purchase coffee if she is not in her seat, in case she spills it on her way back to her seat. And he doesn’t have any bags for her to carry it in.

Now, forgetting the general absurdity of this, here is another demonstration of where health and safety rules are massively damaging out ability to think and act for ourselves and learn from the outcomes of our decisions. Some of the most impressive inventions and scientific findings of our time have been thanks to errors. We need them to progress.

It’s due to people who are irresponsible and seek blame for their mistakes that these stupid rules exist, and government, business and East Coast Mainline alike try to make everything totally fool proof so they don’t get sued. I mean really, do McDonalds HAVE to tell you that your coffee cup contains hot liquid? Don’t you know that? (NB you shouldn’t be buying coffee from Maccy D’s anyway…)

Thinking for yourself is critical and we’re getting worse at it. The next time you screw something up, don’t look for the blame elsewhere. Man/woman up and learn the lesson. Be resilient.  If you don’t, you might just make the same mistake twice!

Ps if you already do this – awesome, keep it up and thank you!!

Brain power

I just delivered a short and snappy workshop on the brain to the brilliant team at Ashoka.

It was all about how a little knowledge about our very own mind engine works goes quite a long way.

Their favourite bits were:
- The fact that trying to do two things (or more!) at once makes our mental capacity less effective – 3 x less effective than that of someone smoking cannabis
- That for every negative piece of information we need to hear 5 positive ones to keep thinking well – so be appreciative people!
- That we all hold negative assumptions about ourselves and tasks we face, and asking yourself ‘what am I assuming that is stopping me’ is a really helpful thing to do when you’re feeling a bit off centre
- That prioritising your day takes a lot of brain energy but is worth it as it will save energy in the long run, especially if you chunk your days and do similar tasks together i.e. creative ones, admin. Sounds really dull but it works!
- That an understanding of the brains make up and science can be very useful at work and at home!

Thank you for having me Ashoka!

If you’re interested, read more here:
David Rock, Your Brain at Work and Managing with the brain in mind
Nancy Kline, More Time to Think
Daniel Siegel, Mindsight

And Ashokas recommendation:
Jonah Lehrer, How creativity works.

Bad Career Advice: Do What You Love

Taken from Penelope Trunk’s blog

To be taken with a pinch of salt in my opinion, but still a really interesting article. I like the distinction between what we are and do naturally, and what we love – of course they are not always going to be the same. But we shouldn’t give up hope that they will never be!

It does hammer home the point that you can actually get a lot of fulfilment doing what you love outside of work – volunteering, being creative, walking socialising whatever it may be – make time for it like you do for the people you love!

What is it with words?

A friend of mine commented today how despite the existence of all our iphones and androids and Skype etc, so much of what we do still revolves around words. Emails, blogs, facebook, twitter etc and, I think most of all – text messages. How many times have you had a text conversation over something that if you’d just picked up the phone when you KNOW they are sitting right there by their phone, you could have cleared up the matter in seconds?

Are we scared to talk? Do we prefer texting? Is it because it is less intrusive, people can reply when they want – or it enables you to think about your response and is less pressurised than a call? Surely we are all intelligent enough to speak to our friends.

Maybe, texting prolongs the communication, which is what we want and desire as humans, the connection to continue over the period of a day not 2 minutes. We like to know that people are thinking of us. It fires chemicals in our brain that we enjoy and are more sustained.

But words are so dangerous. You can screw things up in a text or an email – dates and times, innuendo, relationships, contracts…..that comma in the wrong place or the omission of a (winky face) after a gag can make that person think you hate them!

Words are powerful, positive, punchy – and you can remember them when they are written down. Those first texts in a relationship, the ones that made your heart pump just at the sign of an envelope on a Nokia:

That you would reread and reread until you’d worked out every possible meaning.

And who remembers 160 characters?! The precursor to Twitter, perhaps. 192,000 texts per second were sent in 2010. That is mental.

Maybe we are prone to the written word. It’s the basis of religion, and of story telling – the oldest ways in which we connect to each other, to our goals and to our faith and spirituality.

Whatever the reason, I am glad that words still reign. For after all, where would we be without a good play on words?