Borrowed Bravery

Hey there…. I know that lately you haven’t been feeling it. It’s hard to see the finish line when the world becomes a 24/7 obstacle course. I’ve been there and am here to offer you all the bravery you need to get through this moment.

Here’s the thing… I know that you are on the cusp of awesome and I know what it feels like to be scared and unsure. It’s because I’m so familiar with what you must be feeling today I thought I would let you know that I have some extra brave that is yours no questions asked.

I see you hesitating. Let me just stop you there. I know every single one of your arguments.

You’re afraid of failure.

You aren’t ready yet.

You don’t have enough skills, intelligence, education, or good old fashioned gumption to do the thing you want to do.

The rest of the world knows how much you don’t deserve this chance.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point.

I’ve been where you are right now. Paralysed by inadequacy. Sure that at any point someone is going to point out what a faker you are. I understand completely. I’ve been there before and I am very aware of the fact that at some point I will be there again.

So.. here’s the deal. You can borrow my brave today. I have enough confidence for both of us that you are EXACTLY the right person for the job.

I also know that with the little boost that my bravery can give you, you are going to be Ah-Freakin’-May-ZING. I know that what you don’t have today, you will work for and will turn this little boost into a rocket towards a future you can’t yet imagine.

That’s right, for the total price of nothing but a signature on the dotted line, you can have every single one of the talents you see in front of you right now. I have enough brave for both of us today, so I’ve got your deficits covered.

All the confidence, all the skills and knowledge I have collected over the years they are 100% yours to use. I paused for a second to think about what you WILL accomplish with just 10% of the faith I have in you. GAWD… You will be unstoppable.

But there’s a catch. (Damn sales pitches and their fine print).

You can’t keep it. You can use my bravery as long as you need to, but when you have a cup full of bravery of your own you need to give the extra away.

Bravery is a thing that MUST be paid forward. As soon as you realise that you are no longer drowning in fear and inadequacy, you HAVE to give some of that brave away. Someone else will need it more than you and it’s critical that you help another when they are in need.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. Winston Churchill

Until you are ready just use my faith in you to push through the scary bits on your way to filling your own cup of brave, I’ve got plenty and am happy to share.

Ready? You’ve got this. 

Forget about all of the reasons why you can’t. Take a big gulp from my cup of brave and kick some ass.

 

 

The art of Procrastivity

People talk about how bad procrastination is, but I think that there is a way to procrastinate productively. I dub this effort PROCRASTIVITY and it helps me to do #ALLTHETHINGS!

Yes, that is a made up word…mind you if we look at the way language evolves it might be a real word soon enough. I digress, but really it’s just the synergy of how my avoidance of particular tasks can actually match up with my goals and deliver more outcomes in less time than you might expect.

To be honest I have a lot of things on the go at any one time. Collaborative projects, writing commitments, grad school, work for clients, hobbies, etc. etc. I do a lot of things in my quest to be a polymath and when I procrastinate I have discovered that I often avoid one work effort by doing another.

What? I decide that I don’t want to do my expenses and say…uhm…spend the time instead of doing my expenses writing a blog or doing research for a client. I’m not unproductive, just producing differently. You might be familiar with the feeling of being struck by a powerful need to clean out your closet when you should be doing your homework, or maybe the urgent need to squeeze in that week of meal prep before you can contemplate going to the gym. If you use your desire to avoid a task as fuel to complete another you can be abundantly productive.

While I have to admit that sometimes I do avoid tasks with the help of my couch and Netflix (I’m human people!) when I am avoiding one thing I am primarily working on something else that adds value to one of my goals.

So often we hear about the downfalls of procrastination. We hear stories of how people struggle to accomplish their basic life tasks and rarely hear positive stories. I’m here to tell you about how the act of deferring one task in favour of another can actually help people to deliver more than they thought possible.

Strategic diversity

In order to master procrastivity you need to make some choices about how you want to grow as a person. From making space to develop a creative skill, growing your career, or investing in a dream, your alternate projects need to deliver value to your life plan or personal goals. By doing this you will be assembling items that regardless of what you pick will be doing something good for you.

Think of it like a menu from your favourite restaurant, no matter what you select, it is sure to be tasty and fill your belly. BUT…… you also cannot and should not live exclusively on junk food anymore than you should limit your goals.

Implementing procrastivity

Make the initial list of everything you want to do and prioritise it. Include all the things that you want to do personally, with your loved ones, and professionally. Do not skip concepts like relaxation, fitness, and time with your family as they need to fit in just as much as getting that new certification or promotion might.

Note: The items on your list do not need to add instant value, but MUST add long term value to YOU (nobody else needs to get anything from your goals). Make sure that you are thinking thoughtfully about the things you are adding to your to-do list and how they might contribute to your overall quality of life and personal goals.

An example of this strategic diversity might be goals like learning a language, educating yourself about your professional field, training for your first marathon, doing your day job, and spending time with your family. While this might seem like a big roster of items you can easily slot them all in if you are aware about what items you can be flexible with and what items you need to stick to a schedule with.

Something like education in your professional field could have complete flexibility because you are reading/listening to content about the topic or maybe taking part in a MOOC. These items can be done in the time you wait in a queue for coffee or when you have a few moments free waiting for transit. Comparatively, things like our day jobs can’t be quite as flexible so you have to slot the other items around them.

Most items sit in the middle zone. Training for a marathon for example might require a certain commitment of hours on the road so you need to find a block of time a few days a week before or after work, while family/partner time might be very flexible about the when and not about the how much so you block most of your weeknights to dedicate to your goals and spend your weekend adventuring with your loved ones.

You also have to accept that the priority must correlate to how much time you can invest in each item right now. Maybe that means that something is not going to get as much attention in the short term because of current demands, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t continue to progress as time allows and may become more focused when something else reduces in volume or effort.

Opportunity for connections

So often when we are in the middle of something specific we develop tunnel vision. We forget about other perspectives or options. It’s not our fault, it just happens.

Procrastivity allows us to see new links between seemingly disparate topics through reflection and new knowledge creation. Personal reflection is often powered by walking away from a task and provides us with chances to let our subconscious brain problem solve as it places the new knowledge into slots in our brains. More often than not something that I have been working on for one thing can serve to inform another when I least expect it.

Learn new things

I know this is a bit overly simplified, but doing more than one thing intentionally helps you to learn and grow as a person. We can never know how a passion to learn to play the guitar might result in finding your dream job because of a connection you make or a place you go. Creating a plan to extend your comfort zone will be sure to drive you forward in more ways than the single skill you are acquiring or developing in that moment.

So, now that you have realised that procrastivity is the way forward what are you going to do about it?

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#Procrastivity for the WIN!

There are also some great to-do lists that can help you to master procrastivity. I really like this one from That’s what she said.

KNOW-MO

It’s funny what happens when you start deciding not to be somewhere. We have all done it. New jobs, cities, hobbies, even nights in armed with tea and binge watching TV happen because we resolve not to do something.

You know what you are missing because you chose not to do it. It doesn’t matter what you are doing instead. From riding your bike with bums you know to selfies or cocktails or selfies featuring cocktails, you know what would be happening IF.
If you were there.

If you decided that the other thing was more important than the thing you are doing now.

But.

It isn’t.

You decided. You have to own it, but it doesn’t make it easy and this is where Know-MO comes in.

Maybe it was your bank account that motivated it. Maybe it was your desire to see the ocean every day, but whatever it was, it was more important than the thing you are kinda missing right now.

I say kinda, because you and I both know that you made a choice. That what is happening right now somewhere else isn’t your jam today.

It isn’t fear of missing out. You have no FOMO. You aren’t afraid. You made a selection based on some type of weighted decision criteria and something else won out.

When I decided to move across the planet I evaluated the pros against the cons. In typical Rory fashion I made a list.

Leave a job I loved in a city I loved with friends I loved for a city I didn’t really know, with a partner I loved to live a life I craved near the ocean with unaccounted for ideas of adventure that I couldn’t yet imagine.

The partner and the ocean weighed more than the job, friends, and city. It was a weird choice. I would have loved to have taken all the amazing things with me, but life is not about what is nice to have.

I chose to give up a life I loved for a life I didn’t know much about. It meant that I would have to accept that things I liked doing in places I claimed as my favs were going to happen without me. It wasn’t FOMO. It was KNOW-MO. I know exactly what I am missing every day.

For the last couple of weeks, I have headed back to visit cities I love, with people I love to hang out and do the things I’ve been knowingly missing and I find myself already thinking about home. I know what I gave up to leave and now I know what I am leaving to visit old homes and already find myself missing home before I have even really been gone.

Each time we leave something we love we make choices. It might be the city we grew up in or a home we selected to make our own, but at the end of the day it is something we knew in exchange for some type of adventure.

I freaking LOVE adventure. I love discovering new places and exploring. A couple of years ago I made a choice to leave what I knew in exchange for what I wanted and a slew of things I didn’t even know I wanted yet.

That is what adventures teach us. That what happens after you step outside your comfort zone might be better or worse than what is inside it. Even more importantly it is about the things we cannot even imagine discovering that begin to appear when we are open to it.

It’s weird to know what you are missing. You have to acknowledge it and move forward.

We talk about FOMO mostly in regard to a night out with your friends  versus a night in with Netflix and comfy pants (you only get to call them yoga pants if you actually do freaking yoga in them…let’s be honest here).

The last few weeks have reminded me that while I don’t consider places like Toronto and Atlanta to be like home anymore they are filled with loving friends, chosen family, and a version of welcome that cannot be adequately described without hugs, tears from laughter, and high fives.

Thank you to everyone who reminded me that I am loved, who went out of their way to renew my welcome, and who took time out of their very busy lives to shuttle me about and help me to arrive everywhere safely. My door is always open to each of you, just remember to bring your passport in order to clear customs en route.

Dear Sarcasm…..

Ah Sarcasm,

We have had a good run you and I. There have been some fun times, but it’s just not working anymore.

Love Erin

Dear Sarcasm

I read somewhere that sarcasm is the lowest form of discourse (literature scholars please offer a source for this truth). I had always thought that sarcasm was a gift. I didn’t realise that it was one of those gifts that might be best left behind for another to use.

For a long-time I took pride in my fast responses and enjoyed the impact of a well placed disdainful comment. I didn’t fully value the impact that these remarks might have on perceptions.

As a professional I do my best to keep my terminology crisp and clear as so much can be lost in the space between words read quickly on a screen. This has come from some tough lessons of items that have been misconstrued due to language or context being undeclared in the content.

Sarcasm can be a great tool in the right circumstance. When combined with wit or humour a sarcastic retort can be impactful. It can make a story land in a way that makes a listener remember it. Over time I have learned that unlike sarcasm both wit and humour can be used to great impact on their own. Sarcasm can too, but without humour or wit to soften the blow it tends to just sound bitchy.

You will notice in great literature sarcasm is a tool for the supporting characters. Rarely is it used by the hero of the story. Heroes are known to put the villains back in their places without the need for this crutch. So why does this matter?

If you want to be the hero instead of the sidekick, you better get some more effective weapons for your arsenal.

Not too long ago I submitted some writing that I had done for a grad school assignment. One of the items had what I considered a cheeky dig at the opponent’s approach. While my work received a great grade, the point received a negative comment from my professor. At the time I thought that she was attacking my point which was well researched and valid. I was offended that she didn’t get me.

This weekend I went for a hike in the woods and was struck with an epiphany that she wasn’t actually attacking me. She was warning me that I might lose my argument because of the sarcastic delivery.

My work might not win the debate even though I had the better argument because my sarcasm would serve to make the reader stop listening.

People don’t hear your message when you attack them before you share it.

Persuasive arguments are fought on good data and sound logic. Sometimes they may include a witty or funny analogy in order to make the reader engage on a deeper level, but they have no need for bitchy digs.

It’s because of this realisation that over the next few months I am weaning myself off sarcastic comments. I work hard to build credible connections between different data points and should not serve to reduce their impact or risk losing the game by throwing foul balls at the batter.

I realise that it can be hard to change something that I used to take pride in. While I may mourn for the retorts never getting a chance to hit their mark, I will celebrate my ability to articulate an argument and win the debate as the hero of my story.

Becoming an educated consumer of ideas

I had a paper due last week that included a critical review on the ideas and strategy of a talented scholar. At first I struggled with the idea that my feedback could possibly be valuable. It wasn’t until I began to evaluate the content with fresh eyes that I was able to find the perspective I needed to add value.

Adding to a body of work in any area is intimidating, but it’s exactly how new ideas are born. The work I was reading had a particular approach that could be reused and adapted to meet other environments and it was my fresh perspective and background that make that possible.

It is in this frame that I present my newly created 3 step process to becoming an educated consumer of ideas:

  1. Educated idea consumers have a base to start from: You must first have a foundation of knowledge to evaluate content on. In the case of my paper, I was using research methodology and types of critical inquiry to evaluate the authors work. In order to provide any feedback of value, I had to make sure I understood the theory behind research and inquiry before evaluating theirs. See the contrary approach of the guy who refuses to vote but criticises the politician.
  2. Admit what you do not know: I was not an expert in the topic of the paper so didn’t provide feedback on the data itself, but instead on the way they approached the research question and the methodology they used to develop their theory. See the guy who critiques the mechanic when they have never even lifted a wrench.
  3. Take a chance to learn from what you read or hear: The topic of the paper was fascinating to me well beyond what I was tasked with reading it for. It motivated me to do additional reading to further solidify the new ideas in my own mind. While at first I was intimidated by the topic I was able to take the new content on a more personal journey through the internet so that I could understand the overall purpose more fully and add a new tool in my mental toolbox to further improve the way I work. See the girl who receives irrefutable evidence but still swears that her argument is valid.

Reading and writing critically will be something I continue to work on, but with the help of great instructors, and some friends on the internet I was able to learn about two things at once. Talk about double dipping! If we each apply these three simple steps we can all become more educated consumers and creators of ideas.

 

Mutations in the Public Domain

Bond. Steve Bond.

Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, now does it?

Every day we use methods and models that used to belong to someone else to produce intellectual property of all sorts that we eventually profit from. In software, we often talk about open source versus closed source code bases as though they cannot possibly ever connect. In many cases closed source code involves open source areas and vice versa. This is true in the real world in many cases as well.

As a writer I like to think that my ideas are open source and the words that I have actually written are closed. In my head my words are mine for now and forever. It’s a magical concept that doesn’t really exist.

Sadly the reality is that my words are mine, for now at least, but at some point in the future they will not belong to me or to those who inherit what I leave behind. Eventually whether or not my words are worth remembering, they will progress to the public domain.

So what is the public domain?

The public domain is a place where ideas and words blend together to be created and redesigned in the way a new author or producer sees fit. It’s open source ideas and words to be mixed and matched for the profit of whoever wants to create something with them.

The best example of content in the public domain that I can come up with is the fairy tale. Since most of our favourites are hundreds of years old, people are able to re-write/re-produce them and even subsequently profit however they want and no income is returned to the original author or those who now hold their estate.

As someone who has been raised with these recycled favourites I had come to accept the idea that every fairy tale was mine as much as it was a possession of The Brothers Grimm.

So… why should anyone care?

50 to 70 years after our death our ideas become public domain for mutation in good and bad ways.

The first founding part of modern pop culture has become public domain in Canada (every country has different time guides). James Bond is no longer part of the Ian Flemming estate and someone has already written a new Bond book.

It made me realise that even books and movies that shaped my childhood like Star Wars and Harry Potter are en route to public domain too. After all George Lucas is already over 70 so maybe not in my lifetime, but shortly thereafter someone may create something new with themes that I hold dear.

All of the things that shape us as are eventually subject to reinterpretation by others.

I hope that at some point someone may think it’s a good idea to build on an idea or theory I present helping to further contribute to the wider body of global knowledge, but they may also mutate it beyond measure and that is outside of my control.
 

Head back to Academic and Social Research or check out other posts on Education.

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Why you need to check your sources

Cite your sourcesI know, it’s boring to go out and validate that Wikipedia page or tweet, but it’s crucial to ensuring your content is correct.

More importantly, because I know you aren’t convinced I came up with a list of reasons why you need to care.

  1. It doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing: Just because they are getting their content from a meme, doesn’t mean you should. (See your memory of your mom asking you about the bridge)
  2. It’s your reputation: I get that thousands of content producers out there are producing more stuff faster than you, but they don’t have to answer for the wrong content to your followers. You do
  3. Nobody else is doing it: That means that the volume of incorrect content floating around is getting higher everyday. If you do just a little bit of research, your chances of becoming a credible source go up immensely. Suddenly your well researched and cited articles will gain momentum and you are the accepted expert.
  4. Bad content spreads quickly: Incorrect content can easily be shared across the internet in minutes. More often than not before you realise a mistake, your content has already been seen by hundreds, if not thousands of readers. The magic of our ability to share is also a responsibility to those who follow us.
  5. The internet is a place where people will relish in your error: Trolls are everywhere and the likelihood that someone will see and make note of your mistake is high. They also are likely not to be very nice about telling you about your error.
  6. Someday you may want to go back to school: Executive programs follow high levels of ethical standards, reviews, and checks against the content that you produce. Being in the habit of giving original sources credit and double checking that you have your facts right will never be time that is lost
  7. It saves you time later: When those trolls jump all over you and tell you what you have done wrong, you will need to rewrite your post anyway. Doing a good job now will save you time in the long run that you can use to create NEW posts.

So, I get it. This is a boring topic that none of us want to do, but we need to take responsibility as creators and push high quality information out to the universe. Next time you write a post take 10 seconds to Google that quote to see if it really was said by the author you are quoting.

Kotter is my Pal

It’s funny, when I started writing each new paper I kept hitting a wall when I wanted to credit my sources.  When I was attempting to follow the formal rules for citing a source, I was also breaking apart the framework that made my argument solid with a clumsy transition from my interpretation of the idea into the actual source of the idea itself.

It just occurred to me that the easiest papers to read were written as though the writer had just had a chat with the original idea guy or gal.  They were discussing a concept and using evidence from other peoples work seamlessly because of the level of familiarity that they had with the raw concept and the source writer.

In many cases the research papers and journal articles that I am reading are written by some of the greatest minds in the business community.  These writers are prolific and have produced books, articles, case studies and even have YouTube channels all about their concepts.  What I discovered is that I too, am getting to know these brilliant minds.  I now understand and can use examples from the different works because I am getting familiar with their theories.

I will be referring to these gifted academics in papers (respectfully and with the correct CMOS footnotes) as though I know them.  The risk of not giving sources credit is too high to not work as hard as I can at finding a way to do this well.  I am going to try this approach for my next two papers.  Kaplan, Miles, Kotter et al are now my friends and trusted inner circle.  Starting today I will be crediting them the same way I would credit an idea from a call with my mom or lunch with a friend.

My goal from this test is to see if it helps my writing become fluid again and see if it helps me to take some of the crispy tone out of the sentences supported by a citation.  From what I understand this is a skill that needs practice and will someday become something I no longer have to work at.  Until such time as I can integrate credit with the best of them, these celebrities of academia are my peeps.