What did it for you?

This post stems from a conversation had in a coffee break over a year ago now, in the land of the Red Rose. I had the answer then ( for me) but I’ve played with it a bit in my head ( and in reality since)

We’d been talking about Hands and the enormous amount of brain connectivity  that is given over to the hands both for sensory function and motor function, proportionate to other parts of the body..

There is a superb One minute Twelve second video about it here take the time and watch it. You will smile!

Homunculus

Two initial examples cropped up in conversation. Despite the person concerned being highly educated and still having “insatiable curiousity” about the world, and dedicating time to learning new stuff as well as mastery old stuff, despite having  travelled the world, met interesting people and listened to them:

The skill named?  Touch Typing.

Because no matter what job, role or business they were in whether typing up notes, reports, writing marketing materials, searching the  internet, developing thoughts and ideas. Having the skill to touch fingers to the keyboard gave a fluidity of thought.  Practical? Of course.  Much better than that: a freedom of mind because the fingers could move swiftly to recording..without paralysing the thoughts.

For me, it was a different example. I can sort of touch type, I am looking at the screen as I do this not the keyboard and I am relatively fast. I am not in the same league as a touch typist. We discussed how in some colleges this certainly used to be a mandatory skill everyone was taught, and what a great idea. A sort of driving test for the fingers, giving freedom of thought movement.

Discussing this with other writers subsequently there has been an interesting response. Some need pencil and paper to think to get their ideas down. Some can send their thoughts straight to their fingers via the keyboard. Personally if an idea is clear, it will come out whole using a keyboard. If there is still some work to be done on the thoughts, in the end the swiftest way to get there for me, is completely manual. A hunt will ensue for a writing implement and the back of an envelope if no sheets of paper are around.

I’ve blithly summarised what must be an exhaustive set of things that being able to Touch Type has made a  significant difference to. I know because it was not my personal experience that I have massively understated it.

The person I was talking to is a highly visual person.

Initially my thoughts went to literacy. Being able to read early gave me transport into other worlds, and minds. Being able to read means the internet is an infinite playground for me. Literacy is the passport to so many things without which life in the 21st century would be permanently hobbled. Literacy it seemed  wasn’t the right answer for me. It didn’t sound right. But it was close to it.

As a highly auditory person, I listen for HOW things sound. Even when reading it is a sort of combined  auditory and visual experience. Of course typing adds in another sensory experience and one using the hands so a lot of neuro connectivity there.

In the end it became startlingly obvious what it was for me. Learning to read music.

Learning to read music as a child was useful in the moment, because I could start to play music with others because of it. And I LOVED doing that.  But later in life the realisation has come that so many things that feel innate were developed from that time, were given some magic boosts.

Learning to read music gave me:

An understanding of symbology

An understanding of rhythm and tone

An appreciation of harmony and dischord

Because I could read music, I learned a few instruments and sang. Because I did that, I developed more brain hand connections. Because I did that  my music playing ( as  child!) developed. Because my technical skill developed, I learned to play in groups. Because of that I learned to Listen to HOW things sounded. Because I did that I learned to work in a team for something unimaginable and greater than me. Because I learned that I learned about responsibility to the group and to myself. Because I played in wider groups I was exposed to all sorts of different people, through the music and through the people I played with I was exposed to different cultures and different stories. Because I learned that …

List goes on.

What Pivotal thing, what skill was it that you learned early on, that when you look back  you know was the foundation and the stepping stone to things you have done subsequently?

What was it?

And are you actively using and honouring it today?

Comments are enabled so I would love to hear, please chime in.

What did it for you?

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Why Rest days make THE difference to overall performance. Everyone needs refreshment

In 2001 Harvard Business Review published an article called The Making of the Corporate Athlete by Jim Loehr  and Tony Schwartz  ( he of The Energy Project)  which stands the test of time. I still regularly go back to reread it.

Even if you do not subscribe it is about £4 to download, long, detailed and well worth it.

They outlined in the article  a carefully argued comparison between sports professionals and people who work in business. To remain fit to grow, you need to be take care of your whole self, with a focus on your body and specifically with making the time for regular and deliberate rest.

A line that hits home every time is this one:

“By alternating periods of stress with renewal, they learn to align their work with the body’s need for breaks.”

They demonstrate with examples the interaction between the mind and the body to be able to fully engage, to adapt and develop, to grow stronger at what it is you are engaged in.

Fitness means so many different things to different people. Being the right fit for a job, being physically fit, emotionally fit, mentally fit. All of these aspects of Fitness apply to business people. Sure, it is super clear with an athlete and we watch them typically on competition days.

But what about days when they are not competing ( with others) what about when we are not watching, what is it that the top performers do that other performers do not do? And for ourselves, what days are we not competing at least against ourselves?

Rest, reflect, hydrate, take refreshment.  That makes sense doesn’t it?

Think about yourself? You know you  can only keep going as long as there is a will to do so. As long as you have the mind for it. If you never pause for refreshment, take the time to break out, how can you make space for new ideas, remind yourself of what you know, what is important.

Refresh yourself?

In simpler terms an article this time directly from sport talks about rest. The quote that may mean all the difference to you  is this one.

“adaptation takes place during the rest and recovery phase, not during the workout! ”

( you can find the article here )

Still wondering how valid the comparison with an Athlete is? It is used a lot but does it apply really to you?

Competition – sound familiar? Competing for customers? Endurance and maintaining performance through difficult times, like a recession, or training up for a new role?  Coaching a good performance out of your team or those you work with? Collaborating with others, building a team? Being in a team?  Are convinced yet?

And finally Hydration.

When you are dehydrated even adrenalin will stop helping you after a while.

Working hard, focussing, competing, engaging, collaborating, studying, learning, supporting etc etc, it is all very energising for a while but without the time to rest they all take a natural toll on your mind, your body and your spirit.

Refuelling isn’t always enough you also need to refresh too.

Re Fresh – Get Fresh again.

The ability is there but no time out for refreshment will render you unable to deliver, will fundamentally limit your opportunities for adaptation,development, growth and change.

It will sap your joy, personally and professionally.

What are you doing to build in the regular rest and refreshment?

How are you pausing to maintain long term momentum?

Making Time out a strategy for the long term will pay dividends

Interested in ways to build in refreshment  ?

Click here

the deadline for applications is May 14th

8 hours or 16 hours or more to live/love your life

Once upon a  time in the last century  in Britain a sort of agreement was reached between the bosses and the unions who were fighting for the employed.

Go to Work  for 8 hours

Go to Sleep for 8 hours

and then that leaves

8 hours for Yourself

This was the birth of the 40 hour week.

At the time it was a great bargain, fought hard for. Of course some of those eight hours were caught inside the middle of work, with tea breaks and lunch breaks. And even outside of work we still had to find time to eat, prepare clothes for more going to work etc.

Nevertheless the notion was accepted ( mostly) that everyday you had 8 hours for your own stuff.

8 hours for your family, your friends, your hobbies, your dreams?

So what did we do with those 8 hours? What did we get sucked into.. is it productive, is it relaxing, is it when you stop to think about it what you would do, IF you did

THINK ABOUT  IT

More specifically what do YOU do with those 8 hours and do they feel like enough?

Chances are you are working some of them.

Somewhere for many of us the split was never that direct anyway.  Either we went hunting for a job we loved, OR we fell in love with it somewhere along the way. It might have been the tasks we were engaged in, or the team we were part of. It might have been the opportunity to DO stuff, that had always been elusive at school and university and now it was real.. and it was exciting. It was not always easy but there was an enthusiasm.

Eight (ANY) hours at work is nothing when it doesnt feel like work and it is easy for the day to be an expansive time with lots of different pleasures in it. And healthy too

Was it Confucious who said ( or was quoted)

” Do what you love and you will never do another day’s work again”

It is easy to love stuff when you can be yourself, when you can have your own authentic reaction to events, when you can have some real say in what you do. When you are awake most of the time, not just sleep walking through activities that you now know off pat, or which you have lost the desire to fiddle with…

So I have a question for you…

I’d love to see your answers and please feel free to pass this post and the poll on to everyone you know..

Heading off – Out to gather back in.

In a former life I used to project manage fast and furious and sometimes slow and strenuous technology projects. It was an exciting and adrenaline driven experience. Satisfying.  Everyone does this in different ways some rely on process and organisation.

I relied on people, and the strengths of the relationships built before during and after the projects. Running multiple projects across different countries each with different timelines leads to a facility for the scattered mind to function and for what feels like several layers of consciousness. However it is not my preferred state. I can do it. I am good at it but I no longer have joy form the experience itself. Certainly not for long periods of time. It is a learned strength. 

In other non work related parts of my life right now the project manager is busy with planned events and planning generally. It is all for stuff I care very much about, that is where the drive, the motivation is.

BUT

I am at that point, that frustrating point where I have the poles set up, some of them have plates on them, and some of the plates are spinning. It is progress. I am not yet at the point where all the plates are up and there is a pleasant hum. There is not enough momentum yet for the effort to be elegant.

Its strenuous, important and not yet at the point where it is satisfying. That is a few steps away and all I can do is remember that is it a few steps away and now I have to wait. 

 

In the meantime I have to switch from a feeling of high intensity, getting in close to the detail and step back far enough to see what I am attempting to achieve.  To a completely different way of thinking and BEING this afternoon

So I am off OUT. Under the sky, with a dog, breathing, walking and waiting for the scattered mind to come back together before the next phase of different focus.

 

Oh yes, just been playing with quick posting, now about to Post, without all the usual options to check… my creative mind would love that. But I am living with the scattered project manager’s mind right now — and she isn’t too keen.. 😉