Opposites don’t always attract

When I think about communication, I think about 2 preference types. A person who prefers external motivation, and a person who prefers internal motivation.

I have an internally motivated preference. I don’t need others to motivate me in order to thrive. If there’s a problem, there’s no need to pepper it with positivity or other external factors to get me going. In fact, if you do so then I might even be suspicious of the intent.

When I meet others who have the same preference (most of us rarely think about which preference we have) a spark usually happens, where conversation flows easily, we are mutually inspired, and misunderstanding rarely happens.

When I interact with people who’s preference is external motivation it’s easy to feel a little difficulty, as free flowing conversation and mutual inspiration are rarely present. That’s ok, I know I have to adapt to each and every interaction. What I’m pondering is why I’m noticing it more than before? Am I changing, is the world around me changing? The answer of course is both, yet what I’ve realised is I’m surrounded by more people with an opposite communication preference than any time I can remember.

So lately I’m spending a lot of focus working on positive messaging, as well as  understanding the negative impact that comes from not understanding another person’s communication preference.

This is actually a wonderful and hugely challenging situation. I’m learning something, something that may already be obvious to many. Yet until now I can only wonder what the negative impact of not working on this has had on my previous interactions.

Where I thrive on hearing that everything is blowing up and no one believes it can change (as I will believe it can), a large proportion of people around me want to hear the opposite. They want to hear what good came from the blowing up and who supports and believes in them. There’s nothing wrong with either preference, though once you understand yours you can build on it and much stronger relationships.

If I’d have realised my preference years ago, it’s a safe bet I would have had many more positive outcomes, in and out of work.

Does all this sound obvious to you? Do you know your preference?

I don’t need to hear what good came from an explosion, I’m already working on clearing up the mess and understanding what caused it, what would you be doing?

“You have power over your mind―not outside events. Realise this, and you will find strength.” ―Marcus Aurelius

Real, not perfect.

In todays world, the feeling of pressure from high expectations can become over bearing. High expectations are all around us. They come in many forms, from media (fashion and body types) to work, partners and parents. These expectations can be difficult to meet and are invariably unclear or subtle at best.

At work, for 8 or more hours a day, we’re required to be the best at what we do (and for most this is no longer just vocational). At home, we need to be the best husband, wife or partner, for many the best parent as well. Whichever of these we are, we’re expected to meet the bar and that bar may not be clear, yet it’s all around us.

My mum is often confused, unable to understand my life and how intense it can be compared to her own. For many, 60+ years ago life was simpler. There appeared to be clearer expectations on society and an individual. In work there were clearer boundaries, at home, life was simpler with less distraction.

We’ve come along way in those 60 years. Life is better for many, along with greater levels of equality. We have more food to choose from than ever before, as well as more scientific knowledge, all of which helps us live healthier, longer lives.

Any downsides to this advancement are often ignored, as the upsides are numerous. But what of those downsides? Should we really ignore them?

I work in a modern tech company, one where expectations are high. I support teams of people across different countries, so I need to be ‘on’, inspirational, supportive and available for the whole day. I enjoy the challenge. Those people I’m surrounded by are smarter than me, more technical and many have a curiosity like my own. A curiosity that pushes learning as part of everyday activity.

I’m a husband and parent too. So at home I try to be a role model, aspiring to be the best husband and parent I can be. All of this is hard. I can honestly say on any given day I fail at one or multiple things. I’m human like you. As humans we’re flawed.

We would benefit from being more open to those flaws. Talking about them, admitting them and ultimately helping ourselves and others release the pressure of ‘perfect’.

And here’s the thing, none of us are perfect. That social network feed may show you someone’s highlight reel, but remember it’s just that, a highlight reel.

When was the last time someone disappointed you? Did you pause to think about what happened and why? Chances are it wasn’t intentional. Were they aware of your expectations? What was going on in their life? Was it out of character? Did they know they were disappointing you?

Much of the conflict in our lives appears from misunderstanding. Where we forget the perspective and that immense pressure on us to ‘perform’.

I’m human, I make mistakes. Even when I disappoint, I’m aspiring to have the best intentions. I don’t intend to disappoint or fail, and there in lies the key, my recent epiphany.

So I made a change, one on how I see the world. One focused on more purposeful thinking around expectations of others. I now have only one expectation outside of any explicit agreement.

That expectation? It’s simple, everything a person does, every action they take, it needs to be done with good intent. As long as that’s the case, I’m not going to be disappointed.

I’m real, not perfect. You’re real, not perfect too.

——————————————-
Like this? Share on social media so others can enjoy.
Want to read more posts like the above? See my previous ones here: Marcus Purvis Blog
Get notified by email when I publish new content by simply signing up using the sign up box on this page.
Fancy 5 interesting topics to inspire thinking, including an inspiring quote to start the weekend? Then sign up to 5 Share Friday where you get 5 interesting things each Friday in your inbox : 5 Share Friday

And I say to my heart: rave on.

If there is one thing that’s been consistent in my life so far, it’s my choosing a journey over a destination. Those journeys have included many different experiences, all of which have shaped me in some way. One of those experiences was the second summer of love.

As a 15 year old, the 1990’s were fast approaching, technology and fashion was rapidly changing and I was having to move from being a kid to being an adult. The year was 1989 and in June I turned 16, completing my exams at school. I had to get a job to help cover all the bills at home and was lucky enough to join an apprenticeship scheme with an engineering company.

As a 16 year old I tested boundaries with my new employer, bunking off quite a bit. I wanted to hang out with new friends from my class (who were bunking off too). That period timed well with something that was happening across the country, something that was coined the second summer of love.

It was the period when acid house was becoming a thing, at least where I lived. Massive home grown acid house parties began to take shape each weekend. The smiley face revolution had entered my life, represented by that now familiar yellow smiley.

What struck me most about house music were the types of people I met. They were different to me, looser and more rebellious. Those new college friends  I’d made were different to my main friends. They took part and organised local house parties, ram raiding shops to pay for their life style of drugs (mainly speed and acid) for parties over the weekends. Despite me not joining them on their crime sprees or drug taking, they embraced my company and introduced me to a scene I’d have otherwise only seen on the TV and newspapers.

My mum, brother and close friends didn’t know the crowd I’d started to hang with. I carefully separated my 2 lives knowing they were not destined to merge well. It was obvious to me that this phase in my life would also not last long. I eventually finished college, went back to my indie music roots and then went to America for a while.

When I look back on that year, I can see it was important for at least 3 foundational lessons I’ve put into practice. Each one has become almost unconscious now, here they are:

1. Don’t always surround yourself with people who think like you. In order to grow, learn and experience the world, you need different views to enhance your life

2. You can never really understand and know a person until you really know them (i.e. it doesn’t matter how they look). There are still people I meet who think I’m a ’type’ and after learning more about me, find it hard to believe I’d taken part in illegal raves and been on police watch lists for summer parties at Stone Henge . Don’t believe in bucketing people into types, it will limit your world view as well as your experience with people.

3. Clothes, musical taste, recreational activities, none of these actually define a person. How they treat themselves and others, what they think of themselves and others, those are the things that define a person.

I don’t know what happened to those college friends from that time. Over that short period the house parties turned to raves and eventually the UK government put legislation in place to limit free and open gatherings. I didn’t like the commercial parties, where business took over and the mainstream turned it into profit over experience.

It’s nice to see the ‘illegal’ raves never actually stopped entirely, they just became harder to organise and find. They continue to this day, in smaller numbers and via word of mouth. Just like when I was a teenager. A time that was simpler, one without the internet or always connected lifestyle. A time when word of mouth brought people together more, a time when we actually had time, time to think, time to ponder, time to party.

Make time to party.

“It is always the simple that produces the marvellous.” – Amelia Barr

Note: Some of my college friends were ram raiders, the majority of people I met at house parties and then raves did not ram raid or steal.

Stop thinking, and end your problems

I was in Sweden for a work retreat last week. It was at a hotel complex on the coast. The beach (a short walk from the hotel) was calm, snowy and a great place to visit to gather my thoughts over what became full and hectic days.

It was a difficult week in some regards, I prefer to be alone or in the company of 1 or 2 others, not such large groups. John Cleese once said (after reading Susan Cains Quiet) “I’m on the introverted side, but I can function perfectly well in an extroverted way. But at the end of the day when I’ve been extroverted a lot, I need some quiet time on my own…”

I feel similar. Put me in a group of 20 people and I’ll seem right at home. So much so, that people I’ve got to know appear surprised when they discover I prefer quiet time. The thing is, I can function perfectly well in an extroverted way, it just takes a lot of energy.

It wasn’t until a few years ago I realised that my tiredness comes from this. I used to ask myself if there was something wrong with me. Why am I so tired most of the time? Do I have an illness? Why doesn’t anyone else feel like this?

It turns out other people do feel the same, it’s just not widely spoken about.

So, while standing on that snowy beach in Sweden, looking out to sea, I was reminded how much I benefit from quiet time. I used to live by a beach, back when I was 10 years old. My brother and I would spend hours playing in the rock pools ands collecting pebbles. I remember staring out to sea back then and wondering what sort of life was ahead of me. It’s no different now, over 30 years later and I’m wondering what’s ahead of me still, only this time I know I’m in the drivers seat.

So I make sure I have quiet time when I can. I go for walks alone at lunchtime rather than socialise in the canteen. I take an hour or two out of the day to work in a meeting room or a space without others. Most sacred to me is my time without my phone, music or anything else. This is usually on my way home, commuting on the train. While everyone else is watching or listening to media of some kind, I allow my mind the freedom to spin on it’s own, it’s my not-thinking time.

Not-thinking time is amazing and I’d recommend trying it if you don’t already. For thousands of years humans had not-thinking time weaved into their days naturally. In the last 100 years it’s been stolen from us and we are only just recognising that increased anxiety and depression are linked to being ‘always on.’

“I’m tired of being inside my head. I want to live out here, with you.” – Colleen McCarty

So why not try some not-thinking time. If you’d like some tips on how to get not thinking time into your life Psychology today has a good write up.