The 30 Day Challenge – developing my new business idea in 30 days while staying sane

I am super-excited today as I am about to embark on a 30 day challenge with Screw Work, Let’s Play. The idea behind it is that we all have things we’d like to accomplish but never quite get round to doing anything about them – life gets in the way. I’ve been feeling a bit stuck about where I go from here and so I’m hoping that this will get me going again and hold me accountable to actually producing something by 30 November.

It will be a good test of “when the going gets tough” too as November is going to be horrendously busy. Here’s my high level To-Do list:
• Deliver a huge project at work by the end of the month
• Remember to enrol Jude in primary school (already?!) Continue reading

5 things I learned about working Free Range Style

By some fluke, I managed to get three whole, lovely days all to myself last week and so decided to do a mini play project to experience what it would be like if I were self-employed.  What would I do with my day?  Would I have a breakthrough in discovering my true passion or would I just sit around in my pyjamas, eating ice-cream and watching Golden Girls reruns?

In the couple of weeks leading up to it I had been trying to think of what I wanted to achieve with all this free time.  Bloody luxury!  I had to do something productive and useful – obviously – but I wouldn’t waste it doing household chores (other than order a Tesco delivery – we really needed food).  I would treat these days like work.  Only filled with work I really wanted to do.

Day 1 – I attempted to develop some ideas I’ve had for creating an online course to share Continue reading

Seth Godin’s The Icarus Deception – when our comfort zone no longer aligns with our safety zone

I feel like a total Seth Godin groupie these days but after months of reading his blogs and watching his TED talks, I’ve finally got me one of his books (I’m loving my new found relationship with the library).  I’ve just started the Icarus Deception and have found his introduction so powerful in terms of thinking about the future of work and what it might mean for our kids that I wanted to share it with you.  I’ve paraphrased it below:

We are all artists.

[I like the boldness of this statement, especially as I’ve never been good at drawing or painting or any of the things that we tend to think of as “art” .  But I love the idea of creativity and finding new ways of approaching things.]

By art he means “the unique work of a human being, work that touches another… Seizing new ground, making connections between people or ideas, working without a map – these are works of art.”  Not only can we all produce art, but Godin argues that we must, in order to thrive in our new post-financial crisis world where problems are increasingly complex and messy and need creative, innovative solutions.

The myth of Icarus conveys the dangers of reaching Continue reading

The fear of criticism – with Pinballs and Whisky

“Fear of failure is actually overrated as an excuse. What people are afraid of is not failure. It’s blame. Criticism.

We choose not to be remarkable because we are worried about criticism. We hesitate… because we’re worried, deep down, that someone will hate it and call us on it. 

“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard!” “Who’s responsible for this?” 

Sometimes the criticism doesn’t have to be that obvious. The fear of hearing “I’m surprised you launched this without doing more research” is enough to get many people to do a lot more research, to study something to death, and then kill it. Hey, at least you didn’t get criticized. 

Fear of criticism is a powerful deterrent because the criticism doesn’t actually have to occur for the fear to set in.”

– Seth Godin , “Tribes”

I had my very own taste of this a few weeks ago when I decided to do that very special project I alluded to in my last blog post. I wanted to make a video for my husband’s birthday that would involve his friends and family miming along to Pinball Wizard and the Alabama Song. I knew this would not be everyone’s cup of tea but after testing the idea with a few friends, I put out a call for volunteers and crossed my fingers. The initial response was underwhelming to say the least. And then, just as I’d feared, came a few not-so-positive remarks. 

“You want us to do what?! Do I have to?” I had to stop myself from ranting back, “Well no actually. You could just politely decline – I’m not making you do this!” Instead I walked around all day with my face tripping and feeling awful. And I had to suffer alone. Steven knew something was wrong but, as it was supposed to be a surprise, I couldn’t tell him that I had put an idea out into the world and it had been shot down.  Oh, poor me!

But I had made a pact with myself to go through with it even if it ended up being just me and the kids prancing around for 6 mins. So I held my nerve and then came a breakthrough 🙂  One of our friends replied, “I’m on it like a car bonnet”. That nearly brought me to hysterical tears of giggles and gratitude. This then seemed to spur others on as another and another came forward saying they’d have a go. I put this down to the fact that at heart, we’re still all pack animals, waiting for someone with the courage to go against the tide of convention and show us that we won’t get eaten.

The result? Well, we’re all busy people and not all the volunteers managed to send me a video but by that point I was just so chuffed that they were willing to have a go. The icing on the cake was the gusto in which Steven’s parents took up the challenge and the fact that some of those not-so-keen participants told me that they had actually really enjoyed doing it. 

Most importantly, Steven loved the finished product but the end result for me was pretty amazing too. Not because of my editing skills (ha ha), but because I found I had really enjoyed the process and had learned something valuable in the process. We all have projects we’d like to put out into the world but fear the criticism we might face. Sometimes it might come, sometimes it won’t but what this taught me was if you are convinced it is worth doing, you should dig deep and find the courage to do it. It will be worth it in the end.

You can take a look at the video here. I’m a YouTube novice and can’t get it to play on mobile devices but I think it has something to do with the music copy write being owned by a third party. I really hope that Pete Townshend and The Doors appreciate the sentiment behind what I was trying to do and won’t take me to court…

Inspiring interlude

I have been working a very special project for the last week or so (more on that coming soon :)) and so haven’t had a chance to blog for a while.  Strangely, I’ve missed it which must mean that my little play project is paying off.  But I’ve been collecting quotes that I like for a while now and thought I’d share some of them with you as a little interlude until I can get back to blogging again.  I’d love to hear any of your favourite quotes too to help grow my collection ;).

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
―     Theodore Roosevelt

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
―     George Bernard Shaw

“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.”
―     Jim Rohn

“Please be a traveller, not a tourist. Try new things, meet new people, and look beyond what’s right in front of you. Those are the keys to understanding this amazing world we live in.”
―     Andrew Zimmern,     Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre World of Food: Brains, Bugs, and Blood Sausage