Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Right brain left brain

Not convinced by this, but interesting nonetheless. I can't make her go anti clockwise and can't even imagine that anyone can - but see what you think.,21598,22492511-5005375,00.html

Also, from the description I am definitely more left brain, yet it insists I am more right brain. How about you?

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Multiple Careers

Back to examining the key elements of career decision. The last exercise was about judging jobs by the criteria one has already identified.

I recommend constructing your own, as described here, but you can do it with special psychometric tests too. I remember I did one and my ideal job came up as..... Dental Hygienist. Not that that's a bad was just, well, I hadn't really considered it before.

Second was Counselling Psychologist, so not all wrong.

When I constructed my own spreadsheet 'Writer' consistently came up with the highest scores. Counselling Psychologist came second. Personal trainer was third and journalist and then academic researcher 4th and 5th. Using my number 1 choice as a benchmark, I put my current job (management consultant) through the test and it came out as 75% of the benchmark.

Of course, the problem is that giving it all up to be just a writer is somewhat difficult with perhaps not a great gain to be made (25%). And what about my wish to do all the other things on my list, which also all finished ahead of consulting?

This is where the idea of multiple careers comes in. We are on the home stretch.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Jonny and the art of imperfection

Jonny Wilkinson has only just become a hero. When I say only just, I mean this year, 2007.

How on earth can I say such a thing about England's greatest ever rugby player? Because perfection inspires in a different way to excellence.

In 2003, Jonny changed English sport by beating the Australians, in Australia, thereby fulfilling his own talent as well as that of the England team itself. This was the fruit of Jonny's perfectionism - he is the most dedicated professional the world has ever seen, who will not settle for second best. His dedication to perfect goal kicking is legendary. He would take 99 kicks in practice, and if the 100th was wrong, he'd start again.

Notoriously, Jonny's is a driven, troubled mind. He will not sleep if he does not do well. He cannot live with himself if he makes a mistake. Therefore, he will pratice endlessly to control what happens on the pitch. And til 2003, he never really did make a mistake. He was driven, by fear of imperfection, to be perfect. And he pretty much was.

But, as the great Simon Barnes once wrote, it was as though in exchange for that winning kick in Sydney, Jonny entered into a Faustian pact in which he would never play properly again. Since that time he has played 17 matches in 4 years. He has injured both knees, his back, his kidney, his feet, his neck, and if I remember correctly, his bicep. I think he threw in a hernia operation too.

It is Jonny's response to this that marked the beginning of his hero status. Because Jonny
showed the same dedication, determination and guts to come back from all those injuries. For someone who worked so tirelessly to eradicate the flaws from his game, he must have begun to doubt himself, and realised that fate was his master after all.

But he never gave up. Instead he came back again and again and again. He even made it to the world cup final.

But now here's the real lesson.

He is not the player he once was. He just isn't as good. His kicking is not as good. He missed crucial kicks against both Australia and France and gave too much possession away. He is also in a team which is nowhere near as good as 2003.

The moment Jonny became a hero is not when he was perfect - kicking England to victory and never making a mistake. No, Jonny because a hero when he started missing kicks, yet STILL carried on doing his best for the team. And Jonny's best still wins games for his team, partly because he is still good, but partly because he inspires his team mates.

Sure, it must be great having a perfect player in your side. But this doesn't inspire those around you in the same way. In terms of teamwork, in terms of all being in it together, of the sheer value of having a man such as this in your side, I suspect England would take this new, damaged Jonny.

This is now a Jonny Wilkinson who knew perfection, but who then fell short. Then without ego, he shrugged even that off, and set out once more do his best for his team.

I know many perfectionists, and I can be one too. But now's a good time to remember, Jonny's best can still be good enough, though it is not always. But he became truly inspirational when he became imperfect, and still kept trying.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Back to running!

I have been thinking about T's observations about running and cycling, and my own conclusion that it is essential to find a form of exercise that is comfortable and around which one can build a routine and a narrative for one's own exercise.

Cycling fulfils all those criteria for T, and that is great.

But I think T must also return to running. Let me explain my argument.

The problem is, I think, that what happens as we become unfit is that we lose control over our own body weight. As this happens, everything becomes more of an effort - standing up, sitting down, walking - and we feel more tired doing more and more mundane things. Age compounds the problem by introducing creaking joints. Brilliant.
Unless we counter this (seemingly inevitable) process, and regain control then we will never feel really fit ever again.

Logically, to counter one force you must resist with an equal force. The only way to regain control over one's own bodyweight is to control the weight of one's own body when exercising.
Running, yoga, or any exercise where your weight is unsupported and you are moving (like press ups), is essential to providing that challenge. When overweight, these are all unpleasant (believe me I know!).
Therefore, cycling can continue to form the basis of a fitness routine, but it will not do enough to counter the loss of control over one's own body weight, essentially because the bike helps you out. It is an excellent addition (or foundation) to fitness, but we all need to find at least 3 hours a week to challenge ourselves properly.
If T were a client, I would encourage a narrative that included running, however displeasing the prospect, balance work on the swiss ball, and yoga.
And if it's any consolation, I'll be doing exactly the same thing myself.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

A lesson...

Now, I'm sorry for gloating (I'm not really) but let's just take a nice long look at the attached:

To those of you who don't follow rugby, Australia were huge and overhwhelming favourites, whose media and players had crowed all week about their superiority. How can one explain such a defeat of massive, overwhelming favourites?
Quite simply, psychology. Being the favourites, or being the better side is promising, but it is no more than that: a promise.

What life values is action. You'll see in those stats a stubborn refusal to yield to overwhelming inevitability (by England). Slowly, the thought must have been in Australia's mind: the pressure is actually on us, not them. Australia's media is a double edged sword.

Whenever I play sport I always try and pick out those who are either under pressure or feel pressure and just remind them of that fact, again and again. It's amazing what that can do. But you have to do that - make them think. You don't want them to feel they have nothing to lose. You want them to know they have everything to lose.

Australia play sport too often with a sense of adventure and freedom. Whenever England play them we should seek to turn that spirit into oppressive doubt and apprehension by reminding them of the expectation at home and the cost of failure. And last night, we did.