5 Share – 3 Nov 2017

Hold up! It’s Friday? That means it’s 5 share day, where you wonderful people get 5 things that may change your thoughts or possibly even you life forever*. Sit tight and read on:

*Not guaranteed

1. Quote I’ve been pondering this week “What you think you become. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you create” – Buddha

2. What I’ve been listening too for creativity and productivity boosts : Band of Brothers soundtrack. I first listened to this album for experimenting with creative mind boosts 10 years ago while on a creative writing course. It’s been my go to album to get those creative juices flowing ever since, try it and enjoy those ‘aha’ moments

3. I re-read my most gifted book ever this week- Together is Better: A Little Book of Inspiration – Simon Sinek. I’ve given this to more people than I’ve given the 7 habits of highly effective people and Victor E. Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning (both life changing books). Check it out, it’s super inspirational and a really great reminder of why we are here, it even has pictures.

4. Favourite blog post this weekSeth Godins The thing about maps – An insightful 20 second read that reminds us to have and remember our true North..

5. I enjoyed reading this article  the other day (https://i-d.vice.com/en_us/article/d3ppvy/when-jme-met-jeremy-corbyn)  about JME and Jeremy Corbyn.  The end paragraph resonated with me most (pasted below). It’s worth reading the whole thing, a 15 minute read.
“Perhaps the longest period in which pop culture has been dominated by the fantasy of stardom as salvation — the nu–glam 21st century — has finally started to crumble. Maybe it’s time to dream collectively again, imagine a kind of victory that condemns no one to be a loser. Who better to embody that shift than a leader who never wanted to lead, a man who has turned anti–charisma into an improbable form of glamour?”

The Power of Negative Thinking

Experimenting is the foundation of growth. The greatest minds I’ve ever worked with are the ones who embraced experimentation, fully utilising their ability for negative thinking; something the astronaut Chris Hadfield coined as ‘The power of negative thinking’, where preparation for every scenario means he’s rarely caught off guard. An essential life saving skill for an astronaut and a huge advantage for anyone with goals they want to achieve.

Negative thinking in this regard isn’t about being a victim, it’s not about being consumed by negative thoughts, it’s about turning up prepared.

I realised this advantage at a young age. My parents divorced by the time I was 4 years old and before I was 5 my older brother was no longer living with us. He’d moved to Seattle in the USA to live with our aunt. This was completely unexpected and at 5 I’d lost a brother. How could I have not seen this coming? Could I have prevented it? I felt terribly sad and remember wondering what else could happen to me, it was the first time I realised I wasn’t in control.

At 10 years old, my father wrote a letter to my mother saying he’d also moved to Seattle. Something we didn’t see coming. It was then I knew I needed to gain more control in my life. I was only ten but knew I didn’t want life changing events to appear from nowhere. I needed to prepare and open my mind to the negative.

“We need to choose the life we lead not take the one chosen for us by society, friends or family”

After this, I prepared for everything. For example, at 12 years old I studied everything I could about car safety at my local library (in case things went wrong and I could help my mother at the roadside). To this day, I never drive anywhere without a torch or waterproof clothing in the car (there is always the possibility of a breakdown in the rain here in the UK).

A more recent example is my first son, he exists because of IVF. My wife and I studied hard before going on the IVF journey, looking at successful outcomes and unsuccessful ones. What were the commonalities? Should we rely purely on science? What about Chinese medicine and homeopathy?

We carefully planned for a successful outcome by mapping the negative ones too, opening our minds to all the possibilities. Diet, acupuncture, exercise, meditation, and particular supplements were all a huge part of our journey, and in place due to our open minds and realisation that science is a helper, and not the only answer.

We visualised failure and visualised success, exploring the journey for both. On our second attempt we were successful and have the most wonderful son we could ever imagine. Opening our minds to the many negative and positive scenarios, we had figured out what to do based on our own health and make up. The power of negative thinking, married with science, played a huge part in our becoming parents.

In my current role leading quality teams at Unity3D, I find myself mapping every possibility for the challenges we face. I’m scenario planning and constantly embracing negative thinking to prepare for all outcomes.

If you’re involved in software creation, the power of negative thinking and embracing negative outcomes will go a long way to you achieving greater craftsmanship resulting in faster, higher quality releases.

It sounds obvious, yet many people are not doing this and when it comes to software development, if you aren’t then you’re on a difficult journey, especially with services lighting up all around us.

Not everyone believes in this mindset, not surprising given we’re mostly conditioned to only visualise success. My hope is that by reading this you’ll start visualising failure as well as success. I’m not saying plan for failure (that rarely achieves the right outcomes), I’m saying embrace visualising failure as part of your toolbox.

If you don’t already, then why not embrace the power of negative thinking in your life? Positive thinking is an essential part of being human and has been well documented for decades. Just don’t forget that picturing all outcomes to steer towards success is the balance. You’re more likely to achieve what you want in life if you turn up prepared.

This is an updated and improved version of my first Linkedin article.

Written listening to Atom Heart Mother – Pink Floyd

5 share – 27 Oct 2017

Yikes, it’s Friday already, I better write down 5 interesting things for 5 share, or I could just list the 5 below, let’s do that and see where it takes us!

Quote I’ve been pondering this week “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life – It goes on.” – Robert Frost

Article I’ve read that I’ve gone back to multiple times this week: https://www.tonyrobbins.com/mind-meaning/empowering-beliefs/

I’m experimenting with not showering everyday, er, what? I hear you say…well it’s due to 2 things. I get up really early in the week and don’t want to wake my son who’s bedroom is next to the shower. The second reason is that Science is finding out  we shouldn’t shower each day in order to maximise the positive relationship our microbiome has for with us. What? Take a read here (5 minutes): https://www.inc.com/wanda-thibodeaux/take-a-shower-today-science-says-that-might-have-been-a-mistake.html

For the last 18 months I’ve been wearing a Bio Band on my wrist and using smart dots on my phone and around our home. The World Health Organisation has classed determining if there are risks to children’s health from exposure to EMF (mainly from phones and wifi) as a top priority and the science behind energy dots is compelling. I felt an immediate effect on my sleep and continue to wear one to this day (though some friends think I’m bonkers).

Every few years I revisit the writings of John Titor and this week I did it again. I have this book from many years ago and for those not familiar I’d recommend reading up on him here: http://www.johntitor.strategicbrains.com/

We’re all a work in progress

When I was 15 I received career wisdom from a career adviser at my school. They told me I should be an engineer as I was great at making things, liked to take things apart and rebuild them and was always trying to put mathematics into real world situations. I actually preferred computers and electronics, though I was told to get a real future as a mechanical engineer. I took this advice as I didn’t know any better and my mum was just happy that I’d be able to use my brain and earn money at the same time (we were a low income single parent family).

I dutifully became an apprentice engineer, went to college twice a week, studied mechanical engineering and believed those around me when they told me (in different terms) that being a cog in the machine is what we are in life.

I’m grateful I stopped believing that, though it was a few years until I learned my mind was elastic and I could choose my life story. This realisation came to me from 2 powerful books. First as I crossed over the teenager milestone trying to seek answers on how to change my life. I found myself browsing a secondhand bookstore where I discovered Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. Secondly when I was 23 and given a copy of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly effective people.

Reading Meditations showed me I could choose my thinking and Stephen Covey gave me a framework for action. After this realisation, I spent a large chunk of my twenties travelling around the world, sleeping on beaches in Asia and volunteering in the depths of Nigeria. Those experiences changed me forever, I realised success wasn’t what people thought of me, it was how I spent my time with people and whether I was continuously learning and choosing a path that made a positive difference to others and myself.

I returned to the UK and joined the video game industry, where I began a career spending much of my time with some of the smartest, most likeable people I’ve ever met, I continue in that industry today.

I still read Marcus’ meditations regularly and it receives frequent mentions on a few of my favourite podcasts (Stoicism is more popular than ever). I actually have a smaller well read copy I take with me to work every day and whenever I travel. It’s my preferred translation by Gregory Hays, my original secondhand copy was the A. S. L. Farquharson version from the 1940’s (a more difficult read).

I’m now a bit older and still consider my self a work in progress, a student who’s avidly curious and always learning. I don’t know what I don’t know and this guides my experiments and explorations in life.

None of us have to be a cog in the machine. I work for someone else like a lot of other people, though I don’t let this limit my dreams. I’ve taken risks with career moves and changes to my life, each one to get me closer to working with others who share my beliefs on wanting to make a positive, meaningful dent in the universe.

This may not have resulted in what society commonly deems successful (I don’t earn millions and I still have a mortgage), yet I’m grateful for my life and the people I spend it with.

You own your story, you’re the author, design your life.

For more inspiration and resources in this area I recommend Debbie Millmans Design Matters podcast and Carol Dwecks Mindset book (TED talk here)