What am I working on?

I believe that wisdom can only be created through our own action and effort. We do that by exhausting our own resources working on problems, ideas, and asking ourselves tough questions. Here you will find (almost) daily posts of the things I'm trying to figure out for myself. Have a quick scroll through and see if you can find something that interests you :)

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Your best work takes place in the grey…

Perfectionism is one of the major obstacles that holds me back from doing my best work.

That ‘all-or-nothing’ mentality – where conditions have to be just right for me to get on.

For example, on Monday morning I was double-booked, and I had let it bother me all weekend.

Perfectionism was telling me that I could only do one or the other if wanted to do my best work.

But which client matters the most? Both clients are important. I didn’t want to delay any of the work, and I knew it would be difficult to find another suitable time.

The solution was found in the grey.

I started one meeting on time, and pushed the other back 15 mins.

In the end, both clients got to spend time with me and I was pleased with my work.

It sounds simple, and I know that I’m not the only one that struggles with perfectionism.

Perfectionism holds us back from doing our best work, because
perfectionism protects us from failure, and
from being judged, but
to produce anything at all
we have to be prepared to fail, and
to take risks.
If we wait for the perfect conditions,
we’ll never produce anything.
And to be great, we have to produce.

Perfectionism is fear, rationalisation, self-doubt, victimhood, and drama. It’s what Steven Pressfield calls ‘Resistance’.

Do your work in the grey.

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YOU are what makes your work special…

When Abby Wambach retired from professional soccer she had a difficult period of adjustment where she was afraid that losing soccer meant that she was losing herself.

Like most of us, a large part of our identity is shaped by the work we do.

We’ll all have to deal with the same challenge as Abby at some point in our careers – whether it’s something we control, or not.

Abby’s partner, Glennon Doyle, wrote this for Abby when she’s was struggling to figure out what retirement meant for her:

I don’t think the magic was on the field, Abby. I think the magic is inside of you. I think you’ll carry it with you until you die. *From out here, Abby, it is crystal clear that soccer didn’t make you special – you made soccer special.* You have lost nothing. You take it all with you. Soccer led us to you. Now we’ll follow. Not because of you as an athlete, because of you, my Abby.

You see, your work doesn’t make you who you are. You bring who you are to your work. And you get to take who you are to wherever you go next.

You don’t lose anything when you move on to something new, because you take you along with you.

It’s you that makes your work special.

Please don’t forget that.

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How I turn up at work…

  1. We are all smart and intelligent
  2. We all have good ideas
  3. We all want to shape the work we do
  4. We all want to feel in control of our destiny
  5. We all want to do work that matters
  6. We all want to feel that our work shapes the organisation
  7. We all have good intentions
  8. We are all doing the best we can
  9. We were all born to work together

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On giving Cara more space…

Cara has an unwavering vision for the future of our family, and she’s determined to make it all happen.

She’s also the hardest working person I’ve ever known.

When she’s knackered after a tough week being a mum and leading Gillies & Mackay, she will go into the weekend with an activity plan for the kids, get the food shopping done, run the kids wherever they need to go, do the laundry…

She’s incredible.

But she has no space for putting herself first.

As it happens, I have quite a lot of time in my days to put myself first, and I don’t do enough.

Here are a few changes we’re making so Cara can make that time.

  1. We now have a second car so I can do the school & nursery run in the morning. This means Cara can get up early, get to work on her own time, and come home early.
  2. I’ve taken total responsibility for the laundry. This means Cara doesn’t have to spend any time or energy thinking about it. One less thing.
  3. Next, I’m planning to cook at least one meal a week for the family.

We all need a little time in our days that we can call our own and prioritise doing something that makes us happy.

When was the last time you looked at your partner and asked “do they have any space for putting themselves first?”

What’s a change you could make to help create more space?

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Making the shift from entrepreneur to employee

A year ago I made the shift from entrepreneur to employee.

I work at IMPACT with a team of people that are not only self-motivated, but the smartest and hardest working people in the industry.

Here are a few things I’ve learned about being part of a larger team:

  1. My ideas aren’t always the best ideas
  2. Once shared, my ideas are no longer mine
  3. I won’t be included in every decision
  4. I can’t fix every problem
  5. I can’t do everything on my own
  6. I’m not the smartest person in the room
  7. I might be wrong
  8. I don’t need to speak
  9. Let people do what they are good at
  10. It’s not about me

There’s no question that it’s been a humbling experience, and it has changed me for the better.

Shout out to all the good folks at IMPACT that have welcomed me to the team and helped me find my place over this past year.

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How to deal with change at work…

Working in a fast-paced industry (marketing & sales) with a rapidly evolving organisation (IMPACT) requires a measured temperament for change.

Like me, I’m sure you’ve reacted to change in a way that doesn’t align with your values and principles.

Self-awareness in these moments is how we learn to respond better to new ideas.

Here are my personal lessons on change at work:

  1. While a few things are changing, most things stay the same
  2. Everything is born from change and most change will be good for me
  3. I get to choose how and when change affects me
  4. Most change happens slowly over time – It’s not as immediate as I first think
  5. Don’t act and behave like the change is actually happening when it’s simply ideas that are being discussed
  6. If I try to protect myself I will stifle good ideas
  7. Some change won’t affect me at all, and certainly not as much as I think
  8. I have more control over how change affects me and my work than I first think
  9. I only have control over how I respond. I cannot control everything
  10. It’s not about me

Writing these statements has helped me to appreciate and accept my role in change at work.

Ultimately, I can either lead and shape the changes that take place, or be dragged along.

I know which I’d prefer.


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The wheel of life…

I start my personal goal setting and planning for the next year in October, and one of the first exercises I do is the ‘wheel of life’.

If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s a neat visual way to score out the major areas of your life you want to reflect on and improve in.

Those areas might be:

– Finance
– Family
– Parenting
– Partnership
– Physical health
– Spiritual
– Career
– Hobbies
– Friendship
– Personal development

I’ve attached a picture of mine so you can see what it looks like.

…and here are the basic steps:

  1. Reflect on the year past in each category – what went well/didn’t go well
  2. Score where you are right now
  3. Score where you want to be
  4. Make a plan for what you want to do differently in the next year

It’s simply and easy, and the only thing that might hold you back is that it takes a bit of time to do it properly.

What’s a thing you like to do to help you plan and set clear goals for the year ahead?

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List #1 – Things that make me feel better / worse

Things that make me feel better…

Getting to bed early
Getting up before the kids
Going for a walk every day
Less sugar
No caffeine after morning coffee
Drinking water
Eating regularly
Creating something
Reading a book
Telling my kids I love them
Reading stories to my kids
A back scratch from Cara
Playing guitar
Listening to music
Watching my favourite movies
Brushing my teeth
Spending time with Cara
Phoning my Mum
Time on my own
Getting washed and dressed (before midday!)
A tidy home
Keeping in touch with friends

Things that make me feel worse…

Eating late at night
Pointlessly scrolling social media
Not having a plan
Not feeling in control
Last minute changes
Drinking caffeine before bed
Not going to bed at the same time as Cara
Not leaving the house for days at a time
Holding on to an angry thought
Dad guilt
Shouting at my kids
Letting people down
Not feeling confident
Not getting eight hours sleep
Taking on too much at work
Beating myself up
Judging others
Crowds of people
Leaving it too long to visit my grandparents
Not tidying up after myself
The news

Letter XIX Published – It’s not you it’s about

Letter XIX published on Sunday 8th November 2020

Here’s an excerpt:

We’ve all got a part to play in shaping the world we live in. And it all starts with being more patient and kind to the most important people in our life.

What we can all be a little better at is checking in on our ideals and how those ideals shape our expectations of other people’s actions and behaviour.

Where can you make a difference? And for who?