Changing Your Perspective On Resolutions.

Do Contribute | Education

On Perspective and Change..

Reading about the International Space Station got me thinking about perspective. The astronauts aboard the ISS get to see our world from a completely different viewpoint. Upside down, speeded up, sideways, zoomed out.

From way up high, our world appears as an ever-transitioning, blue-hued pearl in the galaxy. So each time around, the view the astronauts see is also slightly different.

Back down on earth, we’re at a special point of transition in our life cycles too. It’s typically called the annual review. Where we get to look both backwards and forwards, to gain perspective on where we are now.

We consider how we’ve toiled and travailed, rebelled, revelled and rejoiced. We question whether we’re still on track to that bigger, blue-sky picture. And if we’ve lost our way, we contemplate how best to find it again.

This usually results in resolving to start (or stop) anew. To do better, to make amends, to change.

Tackling things from a fresh perspective

Unfortunately, the statistics for sticking with New Year’s resolutions are not encouraging. The tangible resolutions we typically set require self-control and willpower. We attempt to impose deliberate restraint in a world filled with variability, stress, temptation and constraints beyond our control. A world where our energy and focus is usually needed for other important things too.

So, I resolved a while back to stop making fixed or rigid physical resolutions. Such as losing 5kg in a month, or going to the gym 3x per week for a whole year, or not eating chocolate.

You see, when the pressure rises or the moon is high, chocolate can either be my kryptonite or my elixir of life. It has its place. And when the work I’m doing requires an extra sprint, making a 6pm spinning class typically falls off my radar.

It can become stressful just thinking about trying to “enforce” extra change in my life. It means I’m spending energy fighting motivational battles I’m less likely to win.

Now, I’m not advocating that we should skip exercise. Or that we all need to eat lots of chocolate daily. (I would if it was good for me, but from experience I know it’s sadly not). Nutrition and fitness have an important place in our lives, supporting our health and wellbeing. They enable and empower us to do the work and deal with the stress, excitement, and unexpected curve balls we’ll likely encounter in any given year.

Rather, I’m all for creating a more objective perspective around what we wish to achieve in our year, based on our identity. We’re better off focusing our precious energy on efforts and challenges that will help us attain realistic and relevant goals. Doing empowering activities which help move us forward with the least amount of resistance.

So how do we zoom in and simplify change?

1) By developing behaviours that are “like the ME” we each want to be.

2) By creating routines that are flexible. That will fit around the things in our lives which we can (and can’t) control.

3) By cultivating incremental good habits. Simple ones that we can build on slowly, over time.

Essentially, we simplify change by changing our perspective.

I’ve chosen health and fitness as specific examples, because they often serve as keystone behaviours which impact on the rest of our lives. But you can apply this way of thinking to anything you want to do and be. At work and play, in your personal and professional life.

Are you more likely to focus on healthy eating, or being a slave to sugar? And what else could or would you do?

For example, you could shift your focus to “eating more healthy meals every week” instead of “not eating chocolate”. Flip it to the positive outcome. Start with one healthy meal today. And build that up to one healthy meal every day. Then maybe two? And you get to choose every day whether it is like you to eat sugar, today or any day.

This way your focus isn’t on identifying primarily as a chocolate eater (who may have a slight chocolate addiction). Instead it’s on being someone who eats healthily most of the time, (and who may enjoy treats on the side). Try it, you’ll be amazed at how your eating habits change, because of how you view yourself.

Or, you could change your focus from “going to the gym every day” to “it is like me to do exercise every day”. That way, if you have a deadline looming and little time, you can still make room for a brisk walk (or run) around the neighbourhood. Or yoga stretches in your lounge. It brings variety to your fitness regime, and you won’t spend unnecessary energy “feeling bad” about not cracking all the steps needed to go the gym (e.g. change, commute, locker room, class, treadmill, rowing machine, locker room, commute, home). Again.

Unless you love going to gym, which is another story. If it is “like you” to specifically go to the gym, then you’re more likely to make it a non-negotiable in your daily routine!

Alternatively, if it is “like you” to be fit and active, then you’re more likely to do many, varied active things that help keep you fit over time, irrespective of what the exercise is. In other words, find exercise styles that fit with the variability of your day-to-day pressures, and the person you are and want to be. Make it an “easy” habit or routine, which it is like you to do.

Why make it about “ME” instead of my activity?

Making change in this way puts less pressure on our choice-making capabilities. Especially when our energy, attention and focus is already being demanded by other events, opportunities and challenges.

Like that big, new project we want to find the time and drive to dive into. Or those much-needed, grounding moments with loved ones after a long, tiring, meeting-filled day. Or the desire to teach your new dog that old trick of not chewing another of your shoes.

Doing things that are “like me” daily, means we’re investing in making better use of each day. To live and work in a way that helps us become a better version of ourselves. Being present in each day, instead of only thinking and dreaming about the future outcome of our actions. This makes it less likely for us to “fall off the wagon” with our resolutions.

And if we didn’t quite crack it today, we can take what we’ve learnt and make a better attempt tomorrow. So, each day, we’re focusing on “today”. But the outcome of each day contributes to our larger, longer-term goals.

Become your future self today.

See how a change in perspective improves our chances of making change? See how the likelihood of making a resolution stick improves, when we’re already acting as if we’re the person we want to become?

The astronauts on the International Space Station see earth from a fresh perspective every day. Circling the world at about 5 miles (7km) per second, they get to watch many sunrises in a day. That’s several fresh starts every day, compared to our single daily opportunity.

So, those 365 chances that we have for a fresh start this year, are actually pretty rare and special.

“If the world is our oyster, then each day we have in this world is an opportunity to create a pearl.” 
— Mich Bondesio (in my humble opinion)

From your perspective, what is your “like me” to be?
Zoomed In: Is it like you to…

eat your greens and take your supplements?
call and visit your family regularly?
walk the dog every day, rain or shine?
compliment people and smile at strangers?
run an extra mile just to see how it feels?
be calm, patient and tolerant under pressure?

Zoomed Out: Is it like you to…

always strive to deliver high quality output, whatever you’re doing?
be willing to accept criticism and see failure as valuable learning?
be curious enough about what you don’t know, to find out more, even though it may be difficult?
take the scary leap and start something completely new, because you believe in yourself?
share your knowledge and support others, irrespective of who they are?
do the things which help you move forward in your life?

Once you’ve got some images in your mind of what’s like you, then go, do and be.

Daily.

After all, the world is turning…

Video: One Year on Earth — Seen From 1 Million Miles

Video: One Year on Earth — Seen From 1 Million Miles

Education

Mich Bondesio

Curious about connection, communication, design, learning, wellbeing and potential. Sharing thoughts on doing life and business better in our digital world.

How You Frame You?

Do Contribute | Creativity

How you frame yourself ultimately defines you and your possibilities.

Time to reframe?

Our mental frames shape how we see ourselves - how we see others - how we see the world.

They give context to our thoughts, our attitudes - our every deed. They provide the framework for every single thing we do, think, see, or say.

Every decision we ever make is a direct result of the mental frame sets we employ every single day of our lives. And those same conceptual frames either restrict or expand our possibilities. Best case? They open up new horizons and new opportunities. Worst? They shut down all paths to new thought and experience. And your creative potential remains unrealised.

Our frame sets - the ways in which we perceive the world - become the very scaffolding upon which we build our lives. We each create our own reality in our own minds. We see it as a direct representation of the world around us. But it isn’t anything of the kind - it’s a fabrication of our own making. Hinduism refers to it as ‘Maya’ - the world of illusion.

The hard truth is, though, we can’t do without our mental frame sets. They’re a vital part of who and what we are. We rely on them to give focus and bring context to an ever-changing, increasingly complex world.

Trouble is, our mental frames not only come to shape our world, they in turn put limits on how we think and act. And thereby come to define who we think we are — the mind-set that defines all our future possibilities.

Is it any wonder then that we tend to think the same old things and react in the same old ways? Why we increasingly come to see only what we want to see - hear only what we want to hear. Close our minds to anything that contradicts our entrenched beliefs.

Birdcage? Goldfish bowl? Echo chamber?

Whatever you call it. However you think of it. It represents an unnecessary ‘Stop’ situation on all we do in our lives. Reason enough, surely, for you to want to disrupt the status quo.

“All men should strive to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why.”
— James Thurber , arch humorist and ardent observer of life

Free will?

It’s certainly not as free we’d all like to imagine it being. You’ve already programmed yourself to act one way or another - regardless of events - with you just waiting for someone or something to press whatever ‘hot buttons’ you’ve so painstakingly created for yourself.

The true tragicomedy of it all is that if you get bored enough with yourself and your life, you’re the one that’s likely to end up pressing those self-same ‘hot buttons’ - even if no more than to let you and those around you know you’re still alive - even if not exactly kicking.

That’s why - as often as we dare - we should seek to define our existing mental frame sets. Examine them to see whether they’re still relevant. See if our webs of perceptions still apply to who and what we want to become.

Then if you find yourself dissatisfied with what you find, to resolve to do something about it. Simply being aware of the fact that what we take to be ‘reality’ is formed, shaped, and created by our very own beliefs, biases, and assumptions, our loves, hates, and fears is a good start. Then you can begin to question each of those mental frames-sets in turn. And thereby begin to take responsibility for who you are in this life.

“He not busy being born is busy dying.”
— Bob Dylan , yet another arch humorist and ardent observer of life

Daunting? Not really. It’s the very act of you questioning anything at all about yourself that opens up new doors of thought and possibility.

The one constant in life is change. And if you never go out of your way to question yourself - disrupt yourself - make a concerted effort to get out of your own way - you’ll never change - you’ll stay as sweet or as sour as you are. And then things will come to take away and what gets taken away won’t always be to your liking or to your benefit.

Break your step and meet a stranger. You.

The only things you can ever change in yourself are the little things - at least to begin with. The big lesson just waiting to be stolen here; change enough tiny things - about how you see you - how you see the world - how you think and act and feel - and “Abracadabra” you’ll soon see real and effective change in yourself.

Best, though, not to try and change everything about yourself all at once. That wouldn’t be at all helpful. You don’t want to throw a perfectly good baby out with the bathwater. And yes, dear Alice, I know it’s an old saw, but one so apposite it’d be a shame not to use it here. One comes to think about such things differently, once you realise they apply directly to you.

Well, enough of that. It’s time to take that all-important first step outside of your comfort zone. Time to focus on the ‘why’ of you so that you can purposefully reframe yourself - and so come to redefine yourself.

That single step is all that’s required to start with. All you need do then is take it little by little “bird by bird” just one small step at a time.

At this stage, you needn’t delve too deeply into why you see things as you do. The idea here isn’t for you to give yourself a critical roasting. Perish the thought. And there’s no need yet to look for answers. It’s the simple fact of you asking questions of yourself that kicks the whole thing into motion.

You might even ask yourself: ‘Am I different when I’m alone?’ That’s a real un-corker of a question.

It might also be a good time to start thinking about the new and different ‘you’ waiting for you just over the horizon. As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the preternaturally gifted chronicler of The Little Prince, once said, “A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us.”

What a lovely thought.

Next step? Opening your mind to the power of positive thinking.

Think on.

Do.

 

Creativity

Tony Broadbent

Author. Writer. Designer. Mad-Man. Brand-Man. Strategist. Born in England. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Island Insomnia

Do Contribute | Environment

This is an account of a trip I took with my husband a few years ago to the west coast of Scotland. After loading our campervan with sea kayaks and extra camping gear we headed north from our home in Pembrokeshire to a place even more wild and beautiful than the Pembrokeshire coast. Loading our kayaks with overnight gear, we aimed to fling out to the offshore islands for a few days at a time, so that we could immerse ourselves in the spirit of the place. We were not disappointed…

I awake convinced that the bird responsible for the loud whistling that roused me must have entered the tent during the night and be standing on my pillow. And so began day one of our island insomnia tour of west Scotland. We had set off from the mainland in our seas kayaks the previous evening bound for an overnight stop on one of a scattering of islands just beyond the famous Grey Dogs tidal narrows. Spoilt for choice we settled on a small fragment of land, watched by the bobbing heads of curious common seals. Our home for the night had an easy, shingle-beach landing and a particularly spongy- looking spot for wild camping with a sunset-facing aspect. As we set up camp our senses began to soak in the golden light and the dramatic surroundings. The sun set soon after 11pm in a truly spectacular fashion; alone on our island we felt like it was meant just for us. We were humbled to experience the magic of the Scottish west coast that is often so elusive. As I dozed off on my natural mattress of thick grass I felt blissfully happy and excited about the next day of paddling.

Communing with nature can have its downsides and on this particular occasion noisy neighbours keeping anti-social hours were the main issue. During mid-summer in the Scottish western isles darkness is brief or non-existent and happens just a few hours before first light. Sunrise occurs at 2am around the summer solstice and a few of the feathered male inhabitants on our island took full advantage of the extended daylight hours. The first offender was the Common Sandpiper. About the size of a thrush and rather camouflaged if it weren’t for the habitual bobbing of the tail and 3-note whistling call. Their persistent calls are used to simultaneously proclaim their prowess to mates and see off other males. On this small island, they favoured rock outcrops to call from, several of which surrounded our chosen tent spot. Delivered at dawn at very close quarters, we had our very own island cockerel.

Up early we had time to explore the island to the natural sound track of the sandpipers, before setting off on the second leg of the trip and returning to the mainland at the end of the day.

After a quick re-pack and re-stock, and a passenger ferry to Barra, the second night of island wakefulness began with another evening launch. We arrived at our chosen island in the darkness by torch light. As the bow of my boat nudged on to the sand, I began to tune in to an unfamiliar distant sound. It reminded me of a guiro, those wooden ribbed percussion instruments you get to play in school music lessons. As we heaved our boats up the soft sand and stranded them above the tide line the auditory essence of this new island began to wash over me. With my senses enhanced by the darkness the rasping metronome sound set a hypnotic beat to our arrival. I knew this to be the call of the Corncrake, or Crex crex to give it the scientific name which aptly describes the sound. One ‘crex’ is uttered per second producing a monotonous, mechanical tone. We headed inland to find the camp spot and towards the source of the rasping.

Corncrakes are predominantly nocturnal, wetland birds favouring long, dense vegetation where they remain invisible to the observer; their presence is betrayed only by their voice. They thrive on some of the Scottish islands where they can nest on the ground undisturbed. Our chosen island was Pabbay in the Outer Hebrides and just happened to be a favourite haunt of this bird. As with most other birds their call serves to signal ‘no thanks, go away’ to other males and ‘yes please, this way’ to females. And because they hang out in thick vegetation it needs to be loud! The corncrake call is a wonderful sound, but it registers about 100 decibels at close quarters.

As I lay in my tent I was hoping the corncrakes call would lull me in to a deep, trance-like slumber. Instead it had more of a dripping tap effect which coupled with the anticipation of the next day’s paddling meant another disturbed night.

The next morning I lay in the tent feeling groggy and pondering Corncrakes for breakfast, but emerged to find an island paradise; white sand, gin-clear water and only our foot prints on the sand. Had the Crex crex hypnotised me in to thinking I was in the tropics? Was I in a Corncrake-induced dream? Thankfully it was all real and with no wind, a cloudless sky and an island more bountiful with wildlife than I’d ever seen before just round the corner, I was about to have one of my most memorable days ever out sea kayaking. Mingulay beckoned.

After a truly magical eight hours afloat exploring bounty island, I felt overwhelmed by the bonanza of wildlife that had filled my day. Basking sharks galore, thousands of nesting sea birds crammed on to 200m high cliffs and swimming all around us, big groups of seals lounging on wave washed ledges and the most spectacular through-caves and arches. I was exhausted and in need of some quality sleep. We pitched our tents above the perfect white sands of Mingulay’s east flank and settled in. But as darkness fell the islands nocturnal sounds began. We were serenaded through the night by the eerie vocalisations of seals and intrigued by the loud humming tail feathers of courting Snipe, marking the end of a perfect day of adventure.

The next day the pattern of repeatedly disturbed sleep began to take effect and paddling was hard work. My spirits waned as we paddled away from this island of such intoxicating abundance. I didn’t want to leave but our weather window was closing and reality beckoned. We needed to move on to the next island and a new cacophony of sounds.

Landing on our fourth wildlife island for a final night of insomnia we were greeted by oyster catchers who appeared to be in a constant state of vocal panic. Wherever we went they piped and we could see no sign of a nest or chicks. They piped until sunset and gradually went quiet as darkness fell. They allowed us a few hours of blissful peace until the early hours and then at sunrise the piping began again.

My restless nights on the islands served to blur the boundaries between dreams and wakefulness and left me with some profound memories. Each island had its own unique compliment of hypnotic wildlife and accompanying sound track. And although it didn’t amount to much quality sleep I wouldn’t have changed a moment, except for maybe trying those Corncrakes for breakfast…

Environment

Dr Lou Luddington

Marine biologist, sea kayak guide and surf coach. Happiest immersed in the sea, breathing clean air under the open sky and has a life mission to inspire awe for marine life in others.

Do Less To Create More.

Do Contribute | Creativity

Steve Hudson and Victoria Fallon were one of the best teams I ever learnt from at Abbott Mead Vickers.

When I could find them.

They were only ever in the building for briefs and reviews as AMV didn’t mind where you worked.

So Steve and Vic worked in the real world.

Not the agency’s ivory tower.

Cafes and buses mostly.

Picking up insights and dialogue as they sponged away, before crafting amazing campaigns: One2One / Levis / Audi.

By keeping in touch with reality they could write ads that resonated with real people. Not just ad-land.

One day I finally managed to show Steve one of my scripts.

He read it in the lift as he was leaving the office at 9.45am to go to work.

He smiled to himself as he digested the idea before frowning and saying it was too long.

He then showed me one of his scripts for BT.

It was four lines long.

I was shocked by its brutal simplicity.

Victoria is a great writer.

Why so few words?

Steve told me they always stripped their scripts right back.

Not only did this make their scripts easier for clients to ‘get’ and ‘buy’.

But more importantly when the directors got on board, there was room to add their creativity.

So for a 30 second ad they’d write a 20.

Then a director like Steve Reeves could add some touches. The cast could improvise and add a gag. And the editor could cut in a dramatic pause for comedy timing.

All this made the work better at every stage of the creative process and resulted in what appeared to be effortlessly great work. BT Rollercoaster.

I immediately put this into practice.

And one day managed to get Mike Leigh to shoot my BT script.

I often think he wouldn’t have done it if it didn’t have room for him to add his genius.

 

Creativity

Mike Nicholson

Bringing almost 20 years of experience from the world of digital, design and advertising. Mike likes helping ideas fly, SCA mentoring & green jumpers.