5 Share Friday

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:

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):

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:


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)

5 Share Friday

5 Share – 20 Oct 2017

5 share is here again! It must be close to the weekend I hear you say? Well yes, that’s what Friday does best, apart from 5 Share of course.

1. Quote I’ve been pondering this week “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” – Zig Ziglar

2. Donald Rumsfeld wrote a book a few years ago titled Rumsfelds rules (lessons in leadership..) It’s an ok read which I recommend (putting politics aside). In the book he describes his standing desk and ever since, I’ve wanted one myself, especially after reading The End of Illness ,which gives data on sitting down as something that can shorten your life. At Unity where I work, I now have a fabulous desk, one that I can sit down at or at the touch of a button stand at, yay!

3. This week I’ve been experimenting with meditation and music. I still use the Headspace app for the majority of my meditation (highly recommend it) though I’ve found that listening to Cora from the album The last of the Mohicans really sets me up for the rest of my meditation time. Even if you don’t meditate, it’s worth listening to this tune. It can make your hair stand up on end and switch your brain to instant relax mode. Those that have followed me for some time know I use the album The last of the Mohicans as a productivity tool, I still do this multiple times a week when I’m working.

4. Alan Page (who also works at Unity) is one of my favourite people to learn from when it comes to quality, testing and software engineering. He also shares 5 things each Friday, which is awesome and contains useful gems. I’d recommend checking them out:

5. Lastly, this week I had what is now my favourite toilet encounter ever. On the way into the toilet at the office I bumped into Mike Cooper. He is a person I used to play Counterstrike with many years ago as well as work alongside on games like Harry Potter (where he was part of the production team). More recently he can be found working with Jamie Oliver, and I recommend checking out a few of his videos if you’d like to learn how to make the perfect coffee!


Be curious, be grateful, be playful

“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious” – Albert Einstein

My 4 year old son started school last month as he is a summer born. The legal requirement for attending school in the UK is 5 years old, and due to this there are many 4 year old children beginning their school life 6-12 months earlier than many of their peers. Interestingly it comes from a Victorian system designed in the late 1800’s to help women get into work, not look after the interests of the children.

My Scandinavian colleagues look at me with bewilderment when I explain this, as places such as Denmark and Sweden do not require children in full time education until 6 / 7 – a starting age proven to result in better academic achievement and well-being, an article in The New Scientist explains this well:

What surprises me the most about this early schooling in the UK is that if you attend a state run school they don’t spend the first 1 to 2 years learning solely through play. Learning through play is proven to be the most effective way a child can learn, why doesn’t our school system and society overall embrace this? I’m still trying to work this out.

If your child attends a Montesorri (such as Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs did) they use a system that expands on a childs curiosity not one that diminishes it by forcing wisdom. Children in the UK school system are on the receiving end of wisdom and have the curiosity taken from them, and not only that, they have KPI’s and other metrics that must be met, really quite bewildering. Free education should not be treated like a business.

Ken Robinson did a fabulous TED talk on the subject of killing creativity at schools: if you’re a parent and haven’t seen this then it’s worth the 20 minutes.

As parents ourselves, my wife and I realise it’s not the actual schools that are the problem, it’s the system they use for education. From the above TED talk there are 2 key points that as parents we understand and reverse / make up for as best we can at home:

  1. They train people to become compliant workers, sit in straight rows, and do what they’re told.
  2. They teach kids that the best way to fit in is to want what others have / buy stuff.

One resounding quote from Kens talk is this “They churn out people who await instruction….but we don’t churn out people who are innovative, creative, and ask questions, who interrupt…who are by almost any any definition artists. We actually shun those people.”

Anyone here familiar with sticker charts? Way to go creating a culture of doing things only to receive, how did that become a thing? Just one example of our school system setting up our children for a more difficult adulthood.

Overall, if we continue on this destructive path where education branches away from learning, the gap that’s already felt between millenials and generation X & Y will continue to widen and get larger between future generations.

I’ll end with one of the most important influences on schooling for me personally, and that is Seth Godin’s thinking and action. As parents we absolutely have a duty of care to make up for the gaps and inadequacies our schooling brings into our children’s lives. Seth has some fabulous materials available here