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.

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5 Share Friday 22 Feb 2019

Quote I’m pondering this week “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” – Desmond Tutu

Remember the film Office Space? A film that still makes sense today, despite the fact it’s aged a little. In amongst its humour, it has valuable lessons for anyone working for a tech company today, this Guardian summary highlights it well.

Stream music? I use Apple Music, more for convenience than anything else. I prefer the merging of tech. Most people I know use Spotify. If you use, or plan to use Spotify, take a look at this article in Rolling Stone. I’ve pre-ordered the book, it sounds fascinating.

What made me think hard about democracy? The author of Sapiens wrote an amazing piece late last year.

“If we understood that our desires are not the outcome of free choice, we would hopefully be less preoccupied with them” – Yuval Noah Harari

Brexit still looms, and for many it’s about immigration. The reality is it’s steering the UK away from a framework. One that’s given it peace for longer than any other time in its history. Anyone who lives in the UK or is interested in Brexit might be interested in reading this: My grandfather was a Nazi. I’ve seen why we need the EU.

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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.

5 Share Friday 15 Feb 2019

Quote I’m pondering “They invented hugs to let people know you love them without saying anything” – Bil Keane
 
Book that gripped meThe Tattooist of Auschwitz. This is the story of a holocaust survivor. It’s a fictional story based on true events. It caught me by surprise as it was so compelling I read the whole book within a 48 hour period. At its core it’s a love story, one containing the horrifying reality of life in Auschwitz and how 2 people survived to find each other after liberation.
 
Music I’m listening tooMinecraftable – My 5 year old son loves the abtmelody Minecraft playlist on Apple music. The Minecraftable tune is the first tune in a playlist of Minecraft parody songs. It’s not my usual taste in music, yet having it play in the background while building lego or having breakfast with my son, I’m finding I like it more and more.
 
Thoughts on BREXIT – I’ve been in Denmark for the last 7 months and I still don’t know what the UK is hoping to ‘get back’ from exiting the EU, I don’t think anyone really knows. A Dane who lives in the UK has made a comic strip that describes his experience and feelings over the last 2 years, it’s worth reading.
 
Purchase I’m enjoying Gore windstopper beanie . My wife bought me this a while ago and it’s fantastic for wearing under a bicycle helmet or while running. With the cold weather this winter, I wouldn’t go without it now.
 
Happy Friday everyone!
 
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