Working backwards

We usually get stuck when charging ahead, blasting through the steps, until, suddenly, we can’t go any further.

Running full speed our heads down blocks the vision of the end goal. Sometimes we end up off track, with a product nobody asked for or wants.

Another way: do it backwards. Keep in mind the end goal – from the start.

If things go perfectly, what will we end up with? Answer that, and you’ll find it much harder to get lost.

Refresh your thinking

Refresh

To get the latest news online we press the refresh button. As the screen momentarily turns blank our brain has the opportunity to breath.

We reassess the need for the latest information and possibly choose a new destination based on deeper passions and desires.

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“Our frantic days are really just a hedge against emptiness.” – Tim Kreider

What about the other areas of our life?

Continue reading “Refresh your thinking”

Burning desire

Campfire

What makes you tick?

What burns inside you that drives your thoughts, actions and dreams?

Everyone has something. Some feel it stronger than others. I think it’s worth reflecting on our desires and motivations or else we risk losing sight of why we do what we do.

Try writing it down, sticking it up in your room and measuring how much time you spend trying to make it a reality.

Perhaps much of our frustration in life comes from wasting time on things that don’t matter.

Pick your own career

This post originally appeared on medium.com.

There’s a trend emerging in the dialogue of my generation of recent graduates and it’s terribly depressing. It consists of blaming previous generations and taking zero personal responsibility.

We blame the system for educating more and more people and, by extension, a greater supply of graduates for a limited number of jobs.

We complain that debt and recruiters conspire to make our lives hell.While these things may be true, they are muttered while playing video games, eating burgers and doing absolutely nothing to change the situation.

An alternative.

Quietly, without fuss, a group of young people are doing something completely different and succeeding.

I’m talking about everyday 20-somethings who, despite the system, actually get jobs. With or without qualifications they manage to overcome the conspiracies and land incredible jobs in amazing organisations.

How?

They ignore the excuses and take control of their careers. They develop skills that are in demand, quickly and cheaply. They test ideas, interview techniques, applications, networks and through pure perseverance they succeed.Continue reading “Pick your own career”

Tools of the trade: finding your expertise

Tools

Study engineering, be an engineer forever. Right?

Not anymore. Your expertise now depends on how quickly you can learn new skills, not necessarily how well you can perform skills that are no longer relevant.

Need to know how to make videos? You can learn in a few days online by studying great videos and working how they did it.

Need to learn how to develop a website? You can learn that online too, now, for free.

A language? Learn Spanish on your phone while commuting to work.

Defining yourself as a master of X is dangerous. Not because you won’t get hired or that you aren’t good at it, it’s because in the new economy we need you to be able to change.

To be invincible in our workplaces we need to be flexible, doing things that are needed now, not last month.

“I don’t do that” is a phrase of the past.

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Photo: Trizek

Legacy

It feels overly dramatic to be thinking about a legacy, especially for someone who is only 5 years into a professional career.

The importance of thinking about my long term impact is already very apparent. This week I heard a well-respected man in his 70’s reflect on his career, achievements and lessons learned.

Did he speak about his salary? Stationary? Technology? Office politics? Of course not.

He spoke of the people he met, worked with and lead with passion and determination.

His stories were vibrant, diverse and entertaining. He’d made mistakes and achieved much more than he ever thought was possible.

When I look back on my career I want to be able to tell similar stories, laugh at my mistakes and be remembered for more than a title.

The greatest part of work is that you get to do it with other people everyday and in the end no one remembers their salary.

Defensive

Defense

At work and in life we have a choice. We can see our colleagues, our family or strangers as threats to be avoided. They could hurt us, steal from us or take our jobs.

Or, we can choose trust. To build partnerships. To share our work and to grow together.

It only takes one painful experience to make us recoil, but the opportunities that positivity brings is endless.

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Too busy

Too busy

“I work long hours.”

“I’m so busy, you know how it is.”

It can mean 2 things.

They’re a hard worker. Their proud of their work and they need to put in extra time to achieve the quality they set for themselves.

They’re inefficient and easily distracted by various inboxes and impulse tasks. In an attempt to hide it, they work longer, hoping that by doing more people won’t notice they’re achieving less.

Too often I’m the latter. Which one are you?

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When all is said and done.

What will people remember?

You’ve turned up on time, reply to all your emails and you’re the best at excel. Easily the best.

However in your next interview they won’t see your efficiencies, reports or your phone manner.

They want to know how you think about problems, change people and how your personality will fit with their team.

So how should we invest our time at work? We should focus on the big things. The presentations people remember, the opportunities to redefine your mission or to drastically change the way you treat your customers. That’s what matters.

Leadership vs management

Mandela

A good manager gets the job done. They can prioritise, improve the way we do things and even be creative. You can work for them because you both want the same thing.

A good leader will make you think twice. They’ll dream big and share their ideas that will change everything. Their goal is not to be efficient, it’s to imagine a world that’s completely transformed. And to make it happen. You can work with them because they inspire you to imitate their dreams.

If only my boss was nicer.

We’re really good at making excuses.

If only my partner smiled more.
If only I bought that shirt.
If only I earned more.
If only he wasn’t so demanding.
If only I owned my own house.

If only the world changed to suit me, I would be happy.

The problem is the world owes us nothing and it’s not going to change to suit you.

If we wait for the ideal circumstances to make a change, we’ll be waiting for a very long time. That leaves only one option.

Change yourself, now. Be positive. Learn a new skill. Smile more.

The way we work

The death of the cubicle is not far away. The way we work is still designed around an industrialised model – each cubicle in an office is for one worker doing one job.

That job is done as efficiently as possible, until 5pm, when everyone switches off and walks home.

It’s no different to a factory. Each machine does one job in one space. At the end of the day it stops – until tomorrow.

The problem is the world has moved on but we haven’t. Tablets, laptops and wireless internet mean access is no longer a barrier to exploration. Why would a salesman need a desk when they all they need is in their car or on their phone?

Why should we start at 9am and stop at 5pm when the rest of the world keeps on working 24/7?

We’ve reached a point where it’s no longer efficient to stay put and keep a timesheet. Global networks mean we can be flexible, compete and create anywhere, anytime and any way we want.

Challenge the norm and break the rules. Work the way that works best for you, because it’s the only way we can stay ahead of the game.