What I (and you?) got out of blogging every day in March.

Back on the first of March, I decided to take Steve’s challenge to blog something worthwhile every single  day of the month. That is 31 consecutive posts. Some of the posts I was happy with – usually the ones written straight from my mind to the blog at 11pm with little editing – and sometimes I felt like a blog-spammer – almost ashamed to post the words and cringed as I hit the publish button. I admit, that I did take on the challenge for selfish reasons, and not to please the people who actually read my blog. But I am hoping that in the end more people than just myself benefited from the words that I shared.

Back in that first post I wrote what I hoped to get out of the month. I wanted to feel connected, challenged, slightly overwhelmed and empowered. And I actually do think that I ticked all those boxes.

Connected

To my environment. To my thoughts. To the constant change in my life. To the other 42 people blogging for the 31 days of March.

Although I had a back up list of possible topics to blog about I actually never used it. I always wrote about experiences that I had or connections that I made during the day. I wrote about having a perfect day in San Franciscothe power of your mind and why it is great to hang out with friends in real life and talk to strangers. Sharing these thoughts made me feel connected.

Challenged

To share something worthwhile every day. To channel my thoughts into something that doesn’t only sound good in my head. To post at midday, every day, for 31 days.

Although I failed miserably at posting at mid-day I did write a blog everyday and I did feel challenged. Whether this was from writing the blog specifically or just the general challenges that occurred during my everyday life throughout the month of March. I did often find myself saying to people ‘sorry I am late, I had to write my blog’. Many of the posts reflected my thoughts on being challenged. I wrote about how without a mental or physical challenge you will stay exactly as you are, how you feel when you lack motivation, and why you should think about what you have done not what you haven’t.

Slightly overwhelmed

There is a fine balance between being overwhelmed and underwhelmed. Somewhere in between is where energy for great ideas and the momentum to get things done collide. I hope I land there with this challenge.

Writing things down forces you to reflect on what you experience, feel, and think. And which parts of these you are comfortable with and which parts make you feel overwhelmed. I have always thought a lot, but writing everyday clarified a lot of those thoughts. I wrote about feeling confused by my relative work speed, the lack of business evolution and how great it is to take time out, feel proud and tell people how great they are.

Empowered

To post my thoughts, opinions, beliefs and values out in the public for response, debate and to sit there quietly unread too.

Expressing your honest and independent thoughts can be daunting. But there is something exhilarating about hitting publish on something that you know certain people won’t agree with. I wrote about why I think it is great to wear lycra with the work crowd, move back in with your parents, make up your own mind and bring your care-free travel self to work. They were slightly controversial ideas. And they felt great.

So after 31 days I still like challenges and I still like blogging. I guess that means more of each to come. Sounds good to me.

Thanks for reading. If you did get this far, I would love to know if there was a certain post that resonated with you. Is there something that I wrote that you remember?

How do we know how fast we are going if we have nothing to compare it to?

I often think I am going really fast. Sometimes I am right and sometimes I am wrong.

Speed can be one of those comparative measurements – it is relative. Whether you are running or working, to know the rate you are moving at you need to have something that you can compare it to.

I was talking about the idea of pace in the work environment with some of my colleagues the other day.

I have recently transitioned out of a work environment where I was the efficient one. I always felt like I was moving at a fast pace, often too fast for the possible rate of change within the organisation.

In my new work environment, however, I feel the opposite. I am still working at the same pace – or probably faster because I am on such a steep learning curve – however, I feel slow. The organisation is developing and changing at such a rapid pace every day that now I am pushed to keep up with it and everyone that forms a part of it. I do like this feeling of constant change and challenge. It is exhilarating and exciting. But it is also confusing to have my relative speed of work flipped on its head. Something that use to take me three days and be perceived as a quick turnaround, is now expected, and done, in two. Where my actual pace has not changed, my relative speed has.

It is that same feeling as skiing in a white-out.

You can not distinguish between the ground and the sky. There is no visible object you can relate to. Everything around you could either be completely still or moving at exactly the same speed as you. Strange. You think you are standing still and then the clouds lift and you are moving down a hill and have been the whole time.

I wonder if I keep working at this rapid pace for a prolonged period of time, where everything around me is catapulting forward at the same rate, will I start to feel like I am standing still? If it is all relative then I guess so. Scary.

It sounds corny – but sharing makes everything better.

I like to get stuff done and I like  to achieve things. So I would say that I am a doer. But doing things is always better when there is someone to share them with. We can learn from each other and create a memory and an output which is better than if we attempted it solo. I also alluded to this in a post the other day, but whether it be a communal garden or a Korean BBQ – sharing it with someone else always enhances the experience. A pot of thyme that is for the block or some raw pork that gets fried on the middle of your table. People are great. And shared experiences are even better.

It seems these days the sharers are the rarity. There are more people who are afraid of their lemons getting stolen off their tree than those who leave their wifi unlocked. We seem to encourage a closed and protective society, both at home and at work. Tomorrow afternoon I will be hanging out with 500 other people who want to share and collaborate. Cool hey. I am sure they are all into communal gardens too.

Make up your own mind.

Tonight I ate a mullet. Apparently the worst fish in the whole sea. AND it was amazing.

My brother caught it off the beach this afternoon. He is a clever fisherman and a clever cook and I am glad that we didn’t listen to the rumours on the sand and on the internet. They all said that mullet sucks. Tonight we proved them wrong. We also ate an amazing meal. We (I am cashing in on this, but it was mainly my brother) fried the big mullet, chopped it, mixed it with spring onions, vietnamese mint, chilli and lime and then wrapped it in betel leaf. All of the aforementioned ingredients were from his communal garden. (He is a pretty great guy). And then we ate it. We could have been sitting in Longrain. But instead were sitting in his Bondi apartment eating a homemade meal of mullet with a fine glass of red. Superb.

It might make professional fishermen and chefs cringe, but sometimes the majority are wrong. It is good when you are the black sheep and make up your own mind.

This afternoon a good friend of mine made the observation that everyone in my family is, by default, happy and positive. I had never thought of my default state before. But I like that. Naturally upbeat and positive. I am going to try and hold on to that characteristic. There is a little bit of good in everyone and everything. Sometimes we forget that and just listen to people when they say things are bad and mullet sucks. Instead make up your own mind and look for the good stuff. It tastes great.

Internet evolution in the business environment… or not.

Over the past 10 years we have all watched the integration of the internet into the business environment evolve. Today I am part of an organisation that lives and breathes social in the cloud. Before that I worked at an organisations that had a fear of social media. Like many others they were scared of what employees could potentially do with access to youtube and Facebook. And pre-that I slugged away at an organisation that had a fear of the internet in general.

I thought those days had long gone. That the discussion of having to explain why-employees-need-access-to-the-www folded when why-your-business-needs-a-website entered the stage, which then passed the baton to-what-is-social-media, who then gave the spotlight to why-your-company-needs-an-enterprise-social-network. I thought that this was the general, and overly simplified, evolution of internet in the work space.

But I was wrong.

Today I watched a friend of mine nearly fall of his chair as we were told by a business colleague that sections of their organisation in Australia didn’t have access to the internet. Oh you mean social media we obligingly nodded. No. The internet. All of it. ‘They only see the intranet and get frustrated if we have external links because they can’t access them’. Yep. My friend turned pale. ‘What if you have to check the weather’ I innocently asked? No response.

It took us a while to get over the shock. In moments of silence one of us would mutter… ‘I can’t believe it. Blocked. From the internet.’ And shake our head.

So some organisations in Australia haven’t evolved past stage one. We are a democratic, developed country. And they still have a fear of the internet. People come to work and step back in time. How frustrating, disconnected, untrusting and inefficient. As I sat listening to this story I thought three things; Why would people still work here? How will this company stay competitive? And I guess people would just use their phones to check the weather? Dumb question Sarah. I was in shock.

Connected. But how much wifi does one coffee buy you?

Sitting in a cafe this afternoon, enjoying a coffee and tapping away on my computer, I looked around to notice that the other five customers looked just like me. A beverage, no food, and making the most of the free wifi.

It was a great little cafe in Bondi. A cute place, nice decor, rustic furniture, beautiful view, cruisy tunes and a quality menu.

But it seemed none of these draw cards were what got the visitors in the door – the golden ticket was the free wifi.

Of course it is a combination and the whole package is great. But the fact that there was no food to be seen and the tables near the power points not with a view were in the highest demand does say something about our priorities.

It got me thinking – if I had a cafe would I provide free wifi?

Yeah I probably would.  It helps feed that lounge room feeling where people are comfortable to stay for prolonged periods of time and you are happy to have them. I wonder though if it pays off on the books – the solo visitors that have one coffee over three hours, take up table space and burn through your download?

So my question is – how long is too long to stay and work from a cafe? What is justified and what is just plain rude? How much wifi time does a single flat white buy you in this connected world?

*On a side note – I wrote this blog post while I was at the cafe, Chapter One Wine & Coffee Room, and after all this thought I decided to order a glass of wine and some Sicilian olives, grissini and Spanish anchovies. It was a nice place and I felt my three hours of wifi was worth more than $3.80.

For the month of March I am writing a blog post every day as part of #b03. Thanks to Steve for the challenge.

No more stranger-danger.

We grow up being told never take lollies from a stranger, never get in the car with a stranger and never talk to a stranger.

The meaning behind the repetitive phrases from our parents, our school teachers, and our baby sitters seem to finally kick in at about the age of 6. Before then we are still excited little kids with an endearing trust in everything and anything.

I was sitting in the park the other day with a friend and a little girl, who was about the age of 4, was running around openly absorbing the world with her eyes. She stopped, picked up a headband that was a few meters away from us, and in a surprisingly mature and unintimidated manner casually asked if it was ours. It wasn’t. Which we politely told her. She put the pink headband back down, exactly where she had found it. And walked away. No stranger-danger for her.

Sadly this ease of communicating with strangers doesn’t last.

For the next 15 years of our lives (sometimes more) we avoid ever having to talk more than mumble a few words to strangers. Whether it be in the video shop, the supermarket or to the couple asking for directions. I do understand the need to be alert – there are bad people around with unwelcome agendas – but I feel we have taken it a little far.

It takes most of us at least into our 20’s to become comfortable enough to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger.

To have the confidence that not every single man in the street is a pedophile. All those years of being told the stranger is an enemy is a hard belief to destroy. To try and bring ourselves back to the same raw state that we entered the world in is tough – to that of a trusting human being.

Today I think I have shed most of my stranger-fearing scales. But it was, and still is, a conscious mission. I do see now that great things can come out of talking to new people, which I have thought about in a previous post. But today I am really encouraging the fall of stranger-danger.

This photo was taken as part of a ‘professional’ Yammer photo shoot. As you can see, we encourage people to talk to strangers which I think is awesome. I am definitely in the right place.

*This photo was also taken by the wonderful photographer Alan who happens to be @bryonycole‘s Dad – you can find out more about him over here.

 

For the month of March I am writing a blog post every day as part of #b03. Thanks to Steve for the challenge.

Playing words with real friends.

I am a bit of a geek. I love word games. Like millions of other people I got slightly addicted to words with friends. I love that it is an app that doesn’t rot brain cells (read: angry birds) and something you can whip out whenever you have a dull moment – train, dentist waiting room, over a coffee. But lately I have played more of the app type of word game rather than the real life ones. And tonight I got a lovely reminder.

Real life games are fun.

I had forgotten how much better trying to make words out of a random batch of letters is when you are with others and not flying solo squinting at your phone. It is hard to beat sitting around the table with friends and family, feeling content after a good meal and a couple of glasses of red and playing some competitive scrabble. The sort of board game competitiveness that can only come out in a crowd that you know well. Swearing over a Q, three A’s in a row or trying to get away with LOL as a word. It is a chance to get some of the real life connectedness that too often gets missed these days.

Apps are great, but so are dinner parties and board games. Put down the phone and play word games with real friends. Anyway the app practise pays off and people actually get to see you win. If old school connection doesn’t draw you in, surely winning in front of the home crowd does.

The search for continuous improvement not the holy grail.

People often ask me why they are not improving their running, getting stronger, or losing more weight. They are exercising regularly, have a routine and stick to it. They run a 5km loop 3 times a week. But are not getting any faster. Or fitter. Or better. And they do not understand why.

I say it is all about adaptation.

The body needs to be in a state of stress to be forced to change. It needs to be challenged in order to adapt and improve. If you always run the same loop or always do the same gym session, you do not need to improve in order to complete it, so you won’t. They body is smart. And so is the mind.

Exactly the same thing applies to your mental capacity.

If you do the same mundane job day after day, there is not need for adaption or improvement so you will continue along the same monotonous path.

Without a mental or physical challenge you will stay exactly as you are. No need to change.

Some people are fine with that. Happy with their current state of monotony. For others the search for continuos improvement is what drives us to enter a marathon, start a new job or learn a language. Just a we get all our projects under control we decide to start a new one. I always thought that I was just a busy person who liked a challenge. Just as I became good at something I would stop it and move onto something else. I would accept a role that I knew would challenge me or decide to play a sport that I wasn’t very good at. All for the process of adaptation. Purposefully putting myself through the flailing, learning stage to come out the other end stronger, more skilful, faster and well… just better I guess. Some people say that I like to suffer but I say I am just in search of continuous improvement.

There is only one of me and I want to be the best version possible.

You should try it too.

Sleep tight: Think about what you have done, not what you haven’t.

At the moment I am feeling really busy. A little overwhelmed. A little challenged. Always slightly behind where I want to be. Not uncomfortably out of control but if I had a to do list it would be getting longer not shorter.

So conveniently enough today Steve blogged about getting things done  and making stuff happen. Handy. Just what I needed. He refers to the Getting Things Done methodology and books by David Allen. Which ironically enough is one of the three books that I currently have on the go…. something which I am sure breaks many of his rules about how to actually get things done. Carrying multiple half read books around in my bag, all niggling at the back of my mind to be finished. Not good.

But my favourite part of Steve’s post, and his concluding line, was to talk about the things that you have done, instead of the things that you haven’t.

So instead of going to sleep tonight thinking about all the jobs I have to follow up tomorrow, the friends that I didn’t call over the weekend, the run that I didn’t do, the house plans that are not out of council, the car that needs to be serviced, and the books that I haven’t finished. I am going to think about the wedding I made it to in Adelaide yesterday, the 18 blog posts I have written every day of March, the research papers I have handed in for my Masters, the learnings and insight I have already gained from my new job, the logo I designed for a side project and the website I am building for my Dad. I have done HEAPS! Awesome. Sleeping tight now. Thanks Steve.