Events and Life Mindsets

Don't ask what the world needs


Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

  • Howard Thurman
Events and Life Mindsets

The cancer life purpose test

I had a sobering thought earlier this evening. If I found out I had cancer and a long life is not likely, am I living the life I would want to live in the little time I would have left?

I can think of a few things I would change, both things I do and the way I feel about many things. Mostly the latter.

Just to qualify this post: it is a thought experiment. I don’t have a dread disease (as far as I know).

Events and Life Mindsets

Perspective has stepped out for the day

Today has been a pretty dynamic (read: crazy) day. It began with news about Facebook’s insane (for so many reasons) $16bn acquisition of WhatsApp which Michael Jordaan put into great perspective with this tweet:

I then had one of those days which took a few interesting turns where opportunities have popped up and took me down a different path to the one I thought I’d be walking today. It isn’t a bad day, just a challenging one and eating late hasn’t done wonders for my blood glucose or mood.

I sat down with a terrific chicken mayo panini from Food Lovers at the Norwood Mall and watched this short documentary titled “Open Door to Solitude” which reintroduced some perspective on the craziness we live with each day. Ed Zevely’s comments on the city and the constant and frenetic activity we have become accustomed to especially stood out for me.

If you are having one of those crazy days, take 6 minutes and watch this.

Open Door to Solitude from Filson on Vimeo.

Events and Life Wellbeing

Some experiences are so fundamental to the human condition #running

I watched this terrific video, “Focus: Portrait of a Runner“, and I begin to understand why people run and think that I may also embrace running one day.

Focus: Portrait of a Runner – Sony F55 from Sean Michael on Vimeo.

Events and Life

A letter to a young child from his dying mother

“From 1994” Short Film from Casey Warren | MINDCASTLE on Vimeo.

This is a powerful and emotional video and it touches on something I’ve thought about a couple times. We don’t know how much longer we have in this life. If our time came to an end today, what would we want to leave behind for our kids? Would we leave a letter for them sharing our thoughts, feelings and wisdom? I thought about recording short videos for our kids about the things I think about and the lessons I’ve learned and want to share with them.

I also realised that my blog, my updates and my photos are also my legacy to our kids. Through all this stuff I share online (publicly and not so publicly), they gain more insights into who I am which could help them understand decisions I have made. I think about what I have from my father and one of his possessions which help me understand him better is a journal he kept for a while before he passed away.

I wonder if our kids will look at all the stuff I have captured from our lives and see it as a valuable record of our lives? I hope they will see some benefit in it even if a lot of what I publish is either pretty limited to specific contexts and passing events or just waffle.

Mostly I just don’t particularly want to leave this life for many more decades to come. I’d much rather our kids get to know me better in person.

Business and work Events and Life Mindsets

Mostly Bullshit


I’ve rethought a lot of my life in the last 6 months or so since I was diagnosed as diabetic. It wasn’t so much that my diabetes was so out of control that I was facing imminent doom (at least I realised that when I got over the initial surprise and learned more about it) and that sense of my looming demise forced a rethink of my life and general direction. No, it was more that my diagnosis prompted changes in my lifestyle which necessitated different approaches and perspectives which led to further changes. It was a cascading series of changes. In the process my life changed fairly profoundly and continues to change.

I have been thinking about a number of things during this time that I have realised are mostly bullshit. Those things include the almost religious zeal with which many of us (I include myself in this insular group of tech- and digital-aware pundits with too few substantive challenges in our lives or who lack the appropriate perspective to recognise the real issues) approach consumer tech. Another item on this list is commercial banking which we allow to totally screw up our financial wellbeing.

The consumer tech rant

The consumer tech obsession isn’t new. It’s been going for ages and I have made a small contribution to it in my brief time blogging about it. I still obsess about aspects of it, mostly social services like Google+, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as part of an externalised series of thought experiments. I still find myself getting caught up in new shiny things from time to time and that annoys me. I have been reading posts about recent new devices and the commentary is pretty much the time. The difference is that specs change.

The commentary is generally that some device is the death of another because of its size, screen resolution (aside from whether a device looks good to you as an individual, do you really care precisely how many PPI you can squeeze onto that screen?) or some other arbitrary factor. I use an iPhone and I upgrade to the new one every other year or so. I largely do it because I want more capable devices (better camera for better photos on the go, faster processor so my phone runs my apps more effectively and so on). Yes, Google’s software is pretty good and, yes, many non-Apple devices have multi-core processors and other features that seem better on paper or in a multitude of virtually identical reviews (which is why I don’t do gadget reviews anymore) but I like my iPhones and they work for me.

Unless you are a tech journalist or blogger who gets caught up in specs for the sake of it, most people probably use the devices they use because it is what they could afford; because it works for them or because it was probably the best of a selection available to them when they upgraded their contract. Tech specs and the extent to which one device’s screen has worse white balance compared to another (insert comparative gripe here) are largely bullshit. Each of us have a preference for a device or range of devices based on what may appeal to us at that point. Tech bloggers and journalists are basically spoilt sales people who hype new tech based on meaningless criteria (at least for a substantial number of people). All this talk of devices being iPhone- or Android-killers is about as meaningful as, well, it really has no meaning in real terms.

I don’t know what the solution is. For me, at least, being amused because I still have an iPhone 5 when there are any number of bigger, brighter or newer Android/Windows Phone/Blackberry phones out and asking why I haven’t switched is pretty idiotic. If I really cared about the new thing, I would have changed over. What I have works for me and the same thing probably applies to most non-tech bloggers and journalists.

Oh, one more thing on this rant: I noticed a newish trend for tech journos to write really cynically about new tech. That newfound cynicism is just the flip side of what most be totally old fashioned fanboyism. It is still bullshit, just negative and oxygen-sucking bullshit.

The bank rant

We had a time in the last couple years where banks were falling over themselves to show us just how cool they are and how much they innovate. Many of us consumers were rushing to switch to one or more of these banks because we completely bought into the hype.

That new and shiny smell has worn off and we are still stuck with much of what we had at our previous banks, although service levels have benefitted somewhat from the competition. The flashy banks that offered us manufactured status, perks and loyalty programs have become victims of their success. They are overwhelmed and can’t meet the service expectations they created. They almost never call you when they say they will and their offers to support you with seemingly fantastic products and services have very fine and contradictory print.

What I realised about banks is that they sell lifestyles. At least, the money they loan to us in substantial quantities is justified by co-created visions of better lives (we are just as much to blame, we aspire to be more than we perceive ourselves to be) made possible by higher credit card limits and overdraft facilities. This problem tends to be exacerbated by most of us buying into this very early on, usually when we start working and are just happy to make a break with relatively poor student years. Once we are caught up in that world, it just becomes progressively more expensive until we find ourselves in our 30s and 40s and in obscene debt.

The people who keep their costs down out of university and save as if they may need to pay for cars and houses with their own money (imagine being able to do that!) are the ones who have living expenses at a fraction of everyone else’s, much higher disposable income (which they probably mostly save) and who retire at 65 with a smile on their faces.

The rest of us are fools. We start off buying into the promise of a better life and wind up pursuing it because we just want to go on that one holiday or survive the month before the next payday. Although these banks are our best friends and @-mention us on Twitter when we are first dating them, we are eventually reminded that until we generate substantially more income than we did at the beginning (and merit more attention), we are economic slaves in tough economic times. All that advertising and all those benefits of switching from one bank to another are also mostly bullshit.

What really counts

Twitter co-founder, Ev Williams wrote a post a while ago in which he sets out his Formula for Entrepreneurial Success. Two of the items stand out as truly important things in life (they all are important and meaningful, so read the whole post):

3. Take Care of Yourself

When you don’t sleep, eat crap, don’t exercise, and are living off adrenaline for too long, your performance suffers. Your decisions suffer. Your company suffers.

Love those Close to You

Failure of your company is not failure in life. Failure in your relationships is.

It is easy to get caught up in bullshit and I still do it far too often for my liking. Developing a healthier perspective on that stuff takes work and it worth the time and effort. When you do, you begin to reintroduce more meaning into your life which becomes more your life the more you do it.

My diabetes diagnosis is one of the best things to have happened to me as an adult (after meeting and marrying my wife and having our children). It has become a metaphor for how I manage (loosely) my finances and even how I perceive attitudes to my work. I have more thoughts and questions about so many aspects of my life and far fewer answers. How about you? How conscious are you of the cruft in your life? Assuming you’re living your life, of course.

Mindsets People

I'm not sure there's any number of Facebook likes that can replace a hug.

I’m not sure there’s any number of Facebook likes that can replace a hug.

Events and Life Mindsets

When every experience mirrors your personality

Anil Dash’s first blog post back in July 1999 titled “A Minor Revelation” was a pretty profound and highlights something I think about almost daily:

The premise is that the things we experience in our daily lives are reflections of ourselves. Behaviours and traits we see in other people are perceptions of similar behaviours and traits we see in ourselves. When we see a person behaving in a way that infuriates us, the anger we feel about the other person is really anger at what we see in ourselves.


Becoming aware of this dynamic and how all our experiences are really personal mirrors is both a challenge to our perception of an objective reality and frustrating for our egos because awareness brings the realisation that all those things that annoy or please us about other people are things that annoy or please us about ourselves.

The one question I have is how we can improve our experience of our lives. I suspect the answer lies in the idea that when we look around at our world and all we see pleases us and fills us with contentment, then we have reached a point where we accept ourselves as we are and are content in ourselves. This doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing for all of us. A person you or I may regard as an nasty person may be content with that and, consequently, his experience of the world. The question is what your experience of your world would be if you were completely content with your self?

Photo credit: Mirrors by shareski, licensed CC BY-NC 2.0