10 Things Remote Working Has Taught Me About Learning and the Future of Work

Remote working is the future of work

Nursery. Primary school. Middle school. Secondary school. Undergraduate degree. Masters degree. Post-graduate Certificate in Education. Teaching. For thirty years (almost consecutively) I’ve been a cog in the state education machine. And yet, the best learning I have done has been in the first four months since I left full-time teaching/education and embraced the world of remote working as part of a distributed team with Social INK.

Here are the ten things remote working has taught me about learning and the future of work.

1) The Future of Work Is Looking Increasingly Decentralised

Work as we have known it since the Industrial Revolution is finally evolving. There’s no longer a need for conveyor-belt workers performing mechanical tasks. Automation has long taken care of that. Instead, with improved technology, greater global access to the internet and faster connection speeds, employers are now able to recruit from a global talent pool.

International borders, commutes into work, and skills gaps (like the factory line) will also soon be a thing of the past. Being able to potentially cover all time zones with your distributed workforce and offer a worldwide 24/7 service at a fraction of the cost — that’s the way the wind is blowing.

2) People Are Taking Back Ownership of Their Time

In order to work remotely successfully, you need to be a self-starter. You have to self-motivate and be driven to complete your tasks without having someone looking over your shoulder. It won’t work otherwise. Get up. Get dressed. Start work. Manage your day. But, without the commute to “the office” and without the endless and unnecessary meetings, all of a sudden there are extra hours in the day.

If you’re clever with your scheduling, you can even begin to find time to do things you’ve always wanted to do but never had the working flexibility to do so. How you use your time is up to you. So long as what needs to get done, gets done.

3) Knowledge Isn’t as Important as Skills

You don’t need to know what an oxbow lake is or how it is formed. Or what happened to Henry VIII’s wives (divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived).

Knowledge is freely and readily available if you are willing to seek it out. Everything you need to know is a mouse-click or tap away. But skills. The ability to do something. To add value. That isn’t so abundant. So take time to learn new skills. You never know when they may come in handy.

4) Resilience Is Key

Never give up. Keep trying. Circumstances change. Change is inevitable. It’s how you deal with it that really matters. Learn from failure. I’ve yet to meet anyone who gets everything right first time. Persistence, stoic stubbornness in finding solutions instead of wallowing in self-pity, will drive you to success.

5) Remote Working Requires Adaptability

This is a bit of a combination of Points 3 and 4.

Change happens. Equip yourself to deal with it. Adapt to the changing needs and demands of society/clients/technology. Embrace it as personal and professional growth. And be ready to adapt again in the near future.

6) Be Open and Receptive to New Ideas

You don’t know it all.

There are many people who know things that you don’t. Be open to this. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried. You may just profit from it in some way.

7) There’s an App for That

Whatever you need, whatever it is you do, there’s an app for that.

Equip yourself with the tools that will make you more efficient. And if you find that there isn’t an app for your specific need, you may just have stumbled across a business idea.

8) The Internet Is Your Office

There’s no need for a physical office space (unless you’re in retail — maybe). Do away with the costs of having one and work from wherever you please. It’s freeing and often inspiring. Change your scenery and reap the rewards.

9) Creativity Does Not Mean Art

The creative subjects at school are the arty ones for arty people: Art, Drama, Music.

Actually, creativity is bigger than that. It’s about problem-solving. Being able to offer solutions to problems is less the domain of the artist and more that of the critical thinker. Scientists are creative. As are writers, mathematicians, chefs, manufacturers. Everyone is creative. Figure out how to tap into that and you’re golden.

10) The Best Learning Happens Outside of the Classroom

‘Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.’ ~ Albert Einstein

Make of that what you will.

Please follow and like:

There’s More To Wearing Odd Socks Than You Think

Odd socks say more about you than you may think.

Recently I put on a pair of odd socks by mistake. They’d accidentally been coupled together in the wash. I didn’t realise until it was too late, and they were on my feet and in my shoes.

I felt uncomfortable.

Not physically. Psychologically.

Perhaps it’s a streak of OCD. Maybe it’s social conditioning. But I couldn’t stop thinking about my mismatching socks.

I was acutely aware that they looked odd.

And whereas some people wholeheartedly embrace regularly wearing odd socks (even deliberately buying them that way), I was experiencing inner turmoil.

So I took a philosophical approach.

Is There More To Odd Socks Than Meets The Eye?

Wearing odd socks is more than just having a quirky dress sense. It’s more than laziness, or losing items in the wash, or a nonchalant approach to footwear. It says a lot about you as a person.

What?

It begins with a pejorative.

What’s Wrong With Being Odd?

“Ha ha! You’re the odd one out!”

“He’s a bit odd.”

“Oddball!”

It’s strange how “odd” is seen as a negative, almost derogatory, term.

What’s wrong with being odd? Apart from not being divisible by two?

Well, actually, that could be the likely source of the problem.

The Safety Of Symmetry

We love things that are even. Symmetry is comforting. Just look in the mirror.

Two eyes, ears, arms, legs, etc.

Same number of teeth, toes, fingers, ribs, nostrils, on each side.

And anything singular is bang in the middle. Nose, belly button, naughty bits.

The things we see, day in, day out, are what we guide ourselves by. Symmetry and even numbers represent safety and normality.

That’s why odd is considered unappealing.

It’s safer to conform and be part of the crowd than risk standing out.

After all, isn’t it better to have balance?

A world where people know their place — in line with everyone else.

Easier to control.

We can’t have hordes of freethinking, free spirited individuals running wild in society now, can we?

That just wouldn’t do. It would be chaos.

Or would it?

Oddity Is Just Another Word For Unshackled Creativity

Take a look at a Picasso painting. Odd.

David Bowie. Odd.

Salvador Dalí. Very odd!

And yet, there’s little doubt that they were masters at their craft. Creative geniuses with a different world view.

It’s this distinctiveness that sets them apart from everyone else. That’s why they are memorable. Revered.

Because they’re not like everyone else.

They embraced being odd. It allowed creative freedom. And, as a result, it helped them stand out from the crowd and carve their own, unassailable, creative niche.

Stick Out Like A Sore Thumb

Negative idioms like this abound. Conformity is the message. Odd is not good.

Wrong.

Setting yourself apart IS a good thing.

Being the odd one out can be an advantage

Be contrary.

Have confidence.

Don’t be swayed by what other people think or say. It is merely an opinion.

It’s ok for people not to agree with you.

Don’t feel you have to shy away.

Be the odd one out.

Wear odd socks.

You’ll certainly get noticed.

And who knows where that might lead!

Gareth

 

 

Main Image Courtesy of Michael Wright on Unsplash

Please follow and like:

Don’t Obsess Over The Answer. Obsess Over The Question.

There are plenty of big questions out there in the universe

We want results. And we want them yesterday!

Give me answers.

I want solutions. Not problems.

It’s often the case that we obsess over the answer, the final outcome, the end result. But if we neglect the question, the answer can be rendered irrelevant. And the process of arriving at the solution becomes inefficient and wasteful.

As mentioned in a previous post (Slow Down! Why busy people need to stop and disconnect) the first step is to gain some perspective and objectivity.

Breathe deeply and slow things down. We are all very busy and this can affect our ability to distinguish the wood from the trees.

With this done, it’s time to change the obsession.

The Answer Is In The Question

Knowing how to phrase a question correctly is key to gaining a meaningful solution to the problem.

This is what Adam Morgan and Mark Barden call “A Propelling Question” in their book A Beautiful Constraint.

“A propelling question is one that has both a bold ambition and a significant constraint linked together”

It forces you to think and behave in a different way.

The Audi R10 TDI was the answer to a propelling question

(Image courtesy of http://www.evo.co.uk/audi/7921/audi-diesel-for-le-mans)

Morgan and Barden offer several examples of propelling questions that harness the constraint to the ambition, ensuring the constraint drives the solution:

  • How do we win the race with a car that is no faster than anyone else’s? (Audi, Le Mans 2006)
  • How do we build a well-designed, durable table for five euros? (IKEA)

In this way, questions that exhibit a bold ambition linked to a limiting factor, or constraint, will yield better answers.

The Power Of Why

My two-year old son understands the Power Of Why all too well.

He is a master.

There isn’t a statement or utterance that isn’t met with an instant “why?” in our house.

This will inevitably lead to an explanation. Followed by another “why?” And some further explanation. Then yet another “why?” In a seemingly endless sequence in search of the truth (usually ending in exasperation or throwing the question back at him: “why do you think?” – that’s CIA-level parenting for you).

But there’s a wisdom in this transaction.

As annoying as it can be, it is his way of trying to understand things better. He’s not satisfied with the quick, generic response to his question. He wants to know the detail.

“Why” is the way to a clearer answer.

Especially once you’ve found an initial solution.

Ask yourself, why you should accept it? Or, why it worked? Even, why you arrived at that answer and not a different one?

Do this and your results will improve.

Stretch And Challenge

The grid below is used widely in education.

The language you use in your questions is critical

It teaches the vocabulary of inquiry and how to ask good questions (for both teachers and students).

As you can see, “Why” questions (along with “How”) feature in the higher order Analytical and Application Synthesis sections of the grid.

When coupled together with the verbs across the top of the grid, these form powerful questions that really stretch and challenge your thinking. Inevitably leading you to a better answer.

It’s Ok Not To Have All The Answers

So long as you’re asking the right questions.

Get the question right, and you open the door to an intricate thought process.

You will arrive at the solution. There will be a final outcome. And you will gain results.

But the journey, the twists and turns, the developing sequence of questions that you use to arrive at the answer, may end up being more beneficial and enlightening.

Why?

How?

Over to you.

 

Gareth

 

Please follow and like:

Sharing Is Caring And Nothing Beats Retweets. How One Minute Briefs Adds Value To Content.

Sharing is caring

Sharing interesting articles, videos, photos, designs even memes is a fundamental digital content transaction we participate in daily. Just scroll through your Facebook news feed. Or Twitter. LinkedIn.

But why bother sharing?

Like. You know. Whatever.

Liking a post is great.

It shows that… You like the post.

And whilst that’s fine, it doesn’t really add any value. It doesn’t really help the content’s creator. At least, not in the same way sharing does.

Sure, a ‘like’ shows appreciation. It lets people know that you enjoyed their content.

But did you really?

Sharing A Post Adds Exponential Value.

Unfortunately, liking posts doesn’t really help the original publisher. It doesn’t move the content along. All it does is stamp a little heart or a thumbs-up on it.

And surely, if you really enjoyed the post, wouldn’t you want others to enjoy it too?

That’s why sharing or retweeting content is infinitely better.

By sharing a post you’re not only giving it your seal of approval, you’re vouching for it.

When you retweet or re-post something, you are effectively sifting through all the content traffic and cherry-picking the interesting bits for the rest of your network to see.

You’ve determined it has value. It is of interest. And it is worth people’s time and attention.

Passing on a piece of content means that you believe the rest of your close network will appreciate it too. And, because it came from you, they are more likely to trust it and engage with it. After all, you are infinitely more trustworthy than an anonymous source of content. Right?

You share it. Then someone else shares it. And all of a sudden the readership has multiplied.

Reach (the number of people who see the content). Impressions (the number of times the content is displayed). Engagement (the number of interactions people have with the content).

This is how retweets and shares add exponential value.

You Are An “Influencer”

This is a term that gets bandied about a lot.

But what does it actually mean?

Simply put, influencer marketing uses the popularity of influential people and their extended network to deliver a message to their followers. Individuals, who may have an influence over potential buyers within a target market, are identified and used to promote a product.

Sharing.

That makes YOU an influencer.

Widening The Net

That’s why sharing content is so important.

One Minute Briefs encourages retweets for this very reason. It expands the audience for the content creator.

One Minute Briefs Logo

If you like an ad created in response to a brief, retweet it.

You’ll gain the creator greater exposure. You’re adding value to their work and ideas. And this is a whole lot more appreciative than just a ‘like’.

So next time you read or see something that you really like and wish to show your appreciation…

Share.

Retweet.

You are influential.

We all are.

 

Gareth

Please follow and like:

Dink Thifferently: Rules are only the limit of someone else’s imagination.

Blue shoe. Yellow shoe. Break the rules. Live a life without limits.

There’s a lot we can learn about creative problem solving from pioneers like Carol Dweck, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs and Avis. They know how to push beyond the limits of what is believed possible.

No. No Limits.

For every time someone has said “it can’t be done” there’s always been someone else thinking “how can I do it?”

If history teaches us anything, it is that things that were once believed to be impossible, can be achieved.

Just watch any science fiction TV show from the 60s!

Pioneers are those who shun “can’t” and embrace “can’t yet”. They embrace challenges. Persist in the face of setbacks. Acknowledge that effort leads to mastery. Learn from criticism. Find lessons in the success of others.

In short, they don’t put a limit on what they can achieve.

Or, as Carol Dweck explains, they have a Growth Mindset.

The difference between a Growth Mindset and a Fixed Mindset

Finding Lessons In The Success Of Others

When something is considered to be unreachable, it becomes the benchmark.

For some, it’s the limit.

For others, it’s a glass ceiling waiting to be shattered.

This is especially relevant to the three rule breakers below. They defied the norm successfully. They didn’t accept limitations. Instead, they transformed the sense of what was possible.

Afford A Ford

These days it’s hard to imagine a world without automation.

When Ford started building cars he did it in exactly the same way that every other car manufacturer did. One at a time.

This was the norm.

The car was built from the ground up by a team of mechanics. They would have to source parts, then return to the vehicle in order to assemble it.

Not a very efficient process. And very expensive.

Perfecting the assembly line concept turned the process on its head. Ford changed the game.

Henry Ford's legendary Mode T

(Image courtesy of https://hymanltd.com/vehicles/6028-1921-ford-model-t-center-door-sedan/)

He wanted to mass-produce affordable vehicles. Increase efficiency and reduce costs. He wanted to push beyond the limits of what convention dictated at the time.

Instead of having mechanics going back and forth to fetch parts, Ford had the parts brought to the mechanics at appointed stations. The chassis was then moved between each station, stopping along the way to have parts fitted, until the car was completed. (https://www.ford.co.uk/experience-ford/history-and-heritage#assemblyline)

Ford was able to reduce the assembly time of a Model T from twelve and a half hours to under six.

When everyone else was limited to building one car at a time, Ford found a way to push beyond what was conventionally accepted.

Cost-efficient, affordable vehicles for the masses became a reality.

A small change in thinking, made a big difference.

White Headphones

Steve Jobs unveiled the iPod on 23rd October 2001. A revolutionary device. It pushed beyond the limits of the portable audio technology available at the time.

An entire music library that fit inside your pocket!

This was the coolest, sleekest and most exciting new tech accessory ever invented. Everybody wanted one. And everybody who had one, wanted everyone else to know it.

But there was a problem.

It couldn’t be seen if it was in your pocket!

So, how would people be able to show off this cool new music device?

Before the iPod, headphone cables were black.

No one had ever had a reason to make them a different colour.

Want stand out from the crowd?

Go from black to white.

“As psychologists and business experts have acknowledged since iPod’s release, the decision to make its earbuds all-white sent Apple’s cache as an uber-cool company into the stratosphere.” (http://uk.businessinsider.com/why-are-apple-headphones-white-2016-5?r=US&IR=T)

From Second Best, To Second Is Best.

No one ever remembers who came second in a race. (Apart from the person who came second.)

That all changed in 1962.

Advertising agency DDB helped Avis turn being ‘second best’ into a strength.

Hertz had historically dominated the American car rental market. DDB turned this to Avis’ advantage. They devised a campaign celebrating the company’s customer service. Because “When you’re only No. 2, you try harder.”

Avis' famous disruptive "We try harder" campaign by DDB

“Within a year, Avis went from losing $3.2 million to earning $1.2 million[…] From 1963 to 1966, as Hertz ignored the Avis campaign, the market-share percentage gap between the two brands shrunk from 61–29 to 49–36. Terrified Hertz executives projected that by 1968 Avis might need a new ad campaign—because it would no longer be No. 2.”

(http://www.slate.com/articles/business/rivalries/2013/08/hertz_vs_avis_advertising_wars_how_an_ad_firm_made_a_virtue_out_of_second.html)

Suddenly, being the best wasn’t as good as being second best.

That’s how you tear up the rulebook!

Sometimes,  you need to openly acknowledge your limitations. It might just be the kind of thinking that sets you apart from everyone else.

Break Through The Glass Ceiling

Rules and perceived limits can act as psychological barriers.

They can make something seem daunting and unreachable. However, changing your mindset can transform a limiting factor into a target for success.

Conventional wisdom is the general and unquestioning acceptance of the limitations of someone else’s capacity and imagination.

Don’t be defined by what someone else said can or can’t be done.

Break the rules.

Embrace challenges.

Persist in the face of setbacks.

Acknowledge that effort leads to mastery.

Learn from criticism.

Find lessons in the success of others.

Dink Thifferently.

 

Gareth

 

Please follow and like:

The Alphabet Writing Challenge (It’s Not As Easy As It Sounds!)

The alphabet is there to be played with.

A while back I started setting myself short writing challenges. By doing so, I hoped to inject some fun into my blog whilst also providing ideas for anyone whose writing might be stagnating.

Creative writing should be just that: creative.

Doing something a little bit different can shake things up and help break you out of any rut you may find yourself in.

Experimenting and playing with language by imposing constraints and limitations means you have to take time to think imaginatively in order to find a solution. Find ways to focus your thinking and force yourself to pay attention to your craft. Give yourself time to play with written forms and you’ll soon see the benefits.

Here’s an example.

In this post I have set myself the alphabet writing challenge. Just in case you hadn’t noticed thus far, having started this post with the letter ‘a’, I have continued every subsequent sentence with the proceeding letter of the alphabet. Knitting it all together is where the creative wordplay comes into its own.

Let’s consider the uses for an exercise like the alphabet writing challenge.

Most would agree that, on the face of it, this is little more than a contrived piece of writing that serves no obvious purpose.

Nevertheless, by restricting the way you start your sentences in order to structure your writing, however contrived it may seem, demands creative thinking and considerable attention to detail.

Originally I set out to write twenty-six paragraphs, each beginning with a different letter of the alphabet, but I didn’t think this would amount to much of a challenge. Perhaps I was a bit hasty in changing my parameters down to twenty-six sentences, but there you go.

Quick as you like, my change of approach made writing this post infinitely more challenging – a problem with an ambitious outcome bound by a significant constraint.

Really, when compared to the other challenges I’ve set myself in the past, this one has required the most thought and creativity. Some letters of the alphabet do not naturally lend themselves to a starting berth in a sentence.

This is when you need to get really creative.

Up until this point it hasn’t been too bad. Varying sentence structures has been essential. When you get to the end of the alphabet though, it gets pretty tough.

Xylographs are engravings on wood, apparently.

Yes, that last sentence was extremely contrived, but this approach to writing is a great way to expand your vocabulary, and it’s a necessary evil if you are to stick to the form (just don’t do it too often, otherwise you risk entering the realms of nonsense).

Zenith achieved!

26 sentences, each beginning with consecutive letters of the alphabet. Not as easy as I first thought. But an enjoyable lexical challenge nonetheless.

Give it a go.

Share your efforts with me in the comments section below, or via my social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn).

Happy writings!

 

Gareth

Please follow and like:

Slow Down! Why busy people need to stop and disconnect.

Slow down and watch the world fly past - Train rushing past long exposure

Have you noticed how push notifications actually SHOVE their way loudly into your day? How instant messaging requires INSTANT REPLIES? Otherwise you end up having to scroll through a whole list of posts in the group chat to find out what the hell is going on! If you recognise these tell-tale signs you need to slow down. Breathe. Disconnect. Gain some perspective.

When Push Turns To Shove

Likes, shares and retweets are the new currency of approval and measures of success. We’re infinitely more connected, globally. Everything and everyone is pushing its way onto our phones and into our lives. Notifying us that we are indeed connected. And reminding us that we need to remain connected.

Yet, we’ve become totally disconnected. From real life.

We’re so busy chasing after faster broadband or super fast fibre optic connections. Moaning that 3G is too slow. Groaning because 4G just about manages to buffer a feature length film in full HD.

When are we getting 5G?

Everything is speeding up.

We need to slow it down. Stop. Disconnect. Unplug.

And let our natural creativity flow.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” ~ Ferris Bueller

Speed Limit

Here’s an interesting anecdote from someone I know who had to go to Speed School:

“If you drive above the speed limit you might arrive a few minutes earlier at your destination. But you greatly increase your chances of not getting there at all.”

This isn’t exactly revelatory.

Better late than never?

Life’s a marathon, not a sprint?

Slow and steady wins the race?

We’ve all heard these idioms, or variants of them, more often than we’d care to mention. Usually delivered with the gravitas of a sage by a parent. Or grandparent!

Beautifully cliché. Eye-roll inducing. Yet with their basis in a very simple truth.

As old and wrinkly as they may sound (not your parents/grandparents), there’s wisdom behind these idioms.

What’s the big rush?

Stop And Look Around

You only get to appreciate the pace, and fleetingness, of life once you’ve experienced enough of it to look back and wonder where it all went.

So, yes. What’s the big rush?

It’s amazing what you miss when you’re not looking. Ever bumped into someone or something whilst staring at your phone as you walk through town?

Look around you.

Children (especially children who cannot yet read) are highly observant. They don’t miss a thing.

They’re not distracted by the words and symbols that bombard us daily. These things hold no meaning for them. So they take in their surroundings. Completely.

Young children will notice the smallest detail.

Something that may have been there all along. Staring you in the face. But, as a busy adult, you fail to see. Overlook it because there are so many other things drawing your attention. Too much on your mind. Far too many distractions.

All too often, you can find yourself looking at the wrong thing.

Disconnect. Stop viewing the world through a phone.

And these things are getting in the way.

Reducing your productivity. Curtailing your creativity.

This Is Your Life

Rob Dial offers an interesting assessment of our Life Timeline.

With the best years of our life spent as a working adult it’s probably wise to seek enjoyment in what we do. But more importantly is to take time to actually live.

Nobody on their deathbed has ever said “I wish I had spent more time at the office.” ~ Senator Paul Tsongas

Shove those push notifications away!

They can wait.

Disconnect To Reconnect

We may all be infinitely more connected. So civilised and modern. Extremely knowledgeable and advanced. Yet detached from reality and our surroundings.

Everyone is always busy.

It’s as if we need to fill our lives with things to keep us occupied.

But actually, it’s ok to do nothing.

It’s ok to be bored.

And it’s perfectly fine to allow yourself to look out the window and daydream.

Disconnect. Then reconnect. With reality.

Take Time

You can’t make time.

Don’t try to find time.

Take your time instead.

Slow it all down. Take a good look around. Don’t just hear, actually listen.

Observe the world and all its subtleties.

Notice things.

Your capacity for creative thinking will increase.

As will your productivity.

 

Gareth

 

Please follow and like:

Get your writing into shape. Quick creative writing tasks to experiment with every day.

Triangles. Diamonds. Squares. Get your writing into shape.

Writing should be fun. It should be a source of creative enjoyment. But sometimes you can hit a rut. Writer’s block. Stagnation. So it’s important to have a few tools at your disposal to help you break through the wall and knock your writing back into shape.

These quick writing exercises will do just that.

Shape your writing!

Syllable Symbolism

Writers have always imposed constraints on their work to inspire creativity. And the use of syllables to impose a structure or limitation on your writing is a firm favourite.

There are many established forms based around syllable length: Iambic Pentameter, Haiku, Tanka.

These are some of the more easily identifiable verse forms. There are, of course many more. It just goes to show the importance of imposing restrictions on your work in order to develop creative responses.

So, borrowing from traditions of syllabic structures in writing, I’d like to propose the following three techniques to help you whip your words into shape, and have fun doing it:

1) It’s hip to be square

Turn  your  words   into   a  square.
Set      a      syllable      length     per
line  and  stick  to  it  as  best   you
can. Going down you should then
use   the   same  number   of   lines
as     you     have     used    syllables.
In      this      case     it      is      seven.

Ok, so this example might not look like a square, but that’s not the point.

It IS a square.

A 7-syllable by 7-line square.

Restrict yourself to a set number of syllables per line. Whatever the number you determine is, make that the number of lines of writing you will allow yourself in order to create your text.

2) Now try angles

There’s a pattern emerging here (excuse the puns).

I
will try
to show you
exactly    how
this writing technique
works, demonstrating how
you    can    use    syllables   to
shape      a      text.      Continually
add one more syllable to each new
line  of  text   so  it  forms   a   triangle.
Narrow   at   the   top   and   ever   widening
as you progress towards the bottom of the text.

Again, this is not an exact visual science. But we’re not looking for exact visuals.

This is just another way you can inject some fun and creativity into your writing by using syllable structures.

The objective is to work within the constraints of the form and challenge yourself to think of creative ways to harness the restrictions of the form.

3) Diamonds are forever

                                                          Just
                                                       like the
                                                      previous
                                             form, this writing
                                           technique relies on
                                          adding syllables per
                                      line of text up to a point,
                                           before beginning to
                                             remove syllables
                                              all the way back
                                                     down to a
                                                          single
                                                            one.

It’s silly. I know. But it’s a different way of thinking. A different way of writing. And, more importantly, it’s a way of refocusing your mind.

The shape of things to come

If you are stuck for ideas. When you hit a wall and find yourself struggling to get words down on the page. Break away and play with words for a bit.

Get your writing back into shape.

Figuratively.

Literally.

Creatively.

 

Gareth

 

 

Please follow and like:

3 Creative Tasks To Help You Break Free From Your Fear Of Failure

Hear no failure. See no failure. Speak no failure.

Fear of failure is the reason you’re not succeeding. Whether you think so or not, you are afraid to fail. Now’s the time to break free of the psychological preconditioning preventing you from maximising your potential.

“I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.” ~ Thomas Edison

Rules Schmules!

Children are inherently creative. Why?

More heart, less head. No fear of failure. No self-editing. They are still learning and figuring out the world and what they are capable of. They aren’t afraid of what other people think.

Adults are more resistant. Afraid of not knowing. We fear failure. More importantly, we’re afraid of the way our failures are perceived by others – colleagues and superiors.

Appearances matter. And they hold us back.

Find Your Inner Child

Everyone has an inner child (the creative free spirit) but as we grow older and take on responsibilities we bury this deeper and ignore it.

Giving your inner child a chance to express itself and have fun helps the adult ‘you’ become more creative.

Creativity is play.

Creativity is exploring the world around you. Discover your limitations. Find ways of solving the problems you face. Experiment. Fail. And don’t worry about it.

“If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun.” ~ Katharine Hepburn

Would you stop your kid learning how to walk after they fell over once? Twice? Five times?”

You learn more through failure. Embrace it. Learn what doesn’t work. Get one step closer to discovering what does.

Quantity Is The Route To Quality

Quality is what we all strive for and are pressured to achieve immediately – deadlines!

You can only get true quality by going through a process of generating QUANTITY.

“In 1953, a fledgling company called Rocket Chemical Company and its staff of three set out to create a line of rust-prevention solvents and degreasers for use in the aerospace industry. Working in a small lab in San Diego, California, it took them 40 attempts to get the water displacing formula worked out… WD-40® [was] perfected on the 40th try.”

(Source: https://www.wd40.com/cool-stuff/history)

 

Get ALL your ideas down.

No matter how childish, insane or improbable they may seem, DON’T SELF-EDIT. One of those ideas, or a combination of those ideas, could be the killer creative solution to your problem.

Unschool Yourself

Traditional approaches to education group and classify students depending on their age, background and perceived ability, based on standardised testing.

In school we are judged against static criteria. We are standardised. Everyone has their progress mapped out. We become part of an educational conveyor belt.

This model tells us what we are supposed to achieve by certain points in our life. When we should be able to read. What we should be able to read. How we should write. When we should be able to demonstrate these skills.

There’s one problem.

We don’t learn in a linear fashion.

What people think learning looks like vs. What learning really looks like

(Adapted from an original image by Demetri Martin. Source: https://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/5935)

 

This is the major flaw in the system. We learn and develop at different rates, in different ways. Yet we have to conform.

Creativity is beaten out of us.

Independent thought is nothing more than an aspiration; spoon-feeding is the reality because failure is not an option.

Failure is the best option.

Resilience is key.

Prepare To Love Failure!

The following tasks and activities are designed to help you break free from the fear of failure. Shifting the importance away from the end product, they focus on the process. They encourage creative silliness and remove the pressure of how ideas will be received and perceived.

Because the outcomes don’t matter, we are freed to express ourselves with the same reckless abandon that children have. It’s playful.

You can’t fail. But you can learn from the process.

1. The Alternative Uses Test

Our brains are conditioned to protect us from risk and err on the side of caution, preferring things that have worked previously – the Comfort Zone. This is why we end up generating the same ideas. You need to trick your brain into thinking differently.

J.P. Guilford developed the Alternative Uses Test to stretch our creativity. You have two minutes to think of as many possible alternative uses for an everyday object – like a phone, a blob of sticky tack, or a chair.

For example, “paper clips” could move beyond simply keeping your papers together to become: cufflinks, earrings, imitation mini-trombones, something you use to push the emergency restart button on your router, a way of keeping headphones from getting tangled up, a bookmark.

Try it yourself and see:

  • how many different uses you can come up with,
  • how uncommon or original the uses are,
  • how many different categories your answers cover (cufflinks and earrings are both accessories – one category )
  • how detailed and elaborate your responses are.

2. Torrance’s ‘Incomplete Figure’

Ellis Paul Torrance developed the Incomplete Figure test. This drawing challenge formed part of the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking (TTCT), a creativity-oriented alternative to traditional IQ tests. The result is a game similar to exquisite corpse.

You’re given a shape (like the one below, courtesy of What I See When I Look At), and then asked to complete the image.

 What I See When Spiral

(Click on the image to see some examples)

3. A Beautiful Constraint

Try imposing limits and restrictions on your work.

Hang on a minute. You’ve been going on about breaking free from constraints and self-imposed limits. What gives?”

At the risk of sounding contradictory, limiting yourself can actually help you be more creative.

“Adopting a ‘Transformer Mindset’ means viewing our constraint positively and possibly increasing the ambition along the way.”

(Source: http://www.abeautifulconstraint.com/the-process)

 

It is surprisingly easy to spend a lot of time doing very little.

Do more with less time! Force yourself to complete tasks quicker and with fewer resources.

 

 For example:

Write a story in 50 words. Then halve it. Reduce it further to 10 words. Or 6 words.

 

Creative constraints are the premise behind the One Minute Briefs I regularly enter (One Rule. One Minute. Create an Ad). Or the lipograms I write (no ‘a’ and no ‘e’).

If you impose restrictions you force creative thinking and problem solving. But most importantly you build resilience and you get over the fear of failure.

Because you don’t allow yourself time to be afraid of the outcome.

All you are focused on is getting the task done. Who cares what anyone thinks? Just get something done.

This can be transferred to any number of creative scenarios. Take the Status Quo approach to music and only use a small handful of chords in your song. Or limit the amount of colours you use in your designs.

These restrictions can bring out your most creative side.

Take Away Thoughts

Free your inner child.

Be childlike in your approach to tasks. We are all always learning.

Have fun. Create without restraint. Don’t self-edit. Don’t worry about what anyone thinks of your ideas. This will be liberating.

Ideas are a process, not the end product.

Make mistakes. Learn from them.

Keep up to date with my regular creative challenges on Twitter and via my blog. Join me as I explore more ways to help you break free from the fear of failure.

 

Gareth

 

 

Please follow and like:

I stopped using ‘e’ and it was hard!

Proud as a peacock with my lipogram efforts

Look! It’s a lipogram minus that fifth symbol in our Anglo-Saxon syllabary!

My last post about not using ‘a’ in my writing was fairly fruitful. But now a similar trial has found its way onto my lap(top). My task? To draft a lipogram without using that fifth symbol in our Anglo-Saxon syllabary at any point in my post.

I told you so!

Why am I doing this ridiculously tricky task? A pal said that I should.

That’s it…

To his mind my prior post was too straightforward and had nothing to it.

Don’t assign any “A’s” to your writing? No probs! Any fool with a modicum of insight and imagination can do that!

But that fifth symbol. That sign that is customarily found in our writing. Omitting that is a fitting confirmation of skill (and impulsivity).

Prior to this I thought I was foolhardy. Now I know that I am just a stubborn ass in my pursuit of lipogrammatic triumph.

I want to say to my old amigo “I told you so! I told you I could do it!”

So it’s onwards and upwards from this point forward.

Sitting on top of a building looking down at the world beneath your feet.

THIS is strikingly difficult.

But still a fantastic brain workout.

As with my last post of this kind, I truly savour how writing drills of this sort focus your mind. By imposing limitations and constraints on your work you ask that your brain think in distinct ways to find solutions.

It boosts your vocabulary too!

Any author or artistic individual will find this kind of activity fulfilling and possibly a bit hooking.

I know I do!

Mostly to confirm that I can actually accomplish such a tortuous task.

This is why YOU should try it.

Lipograms afford you an opportunity to amplify your capacity with words.

If you blog, you must try this task.

If you find joy in writing, you will fancy giving this a go.

If nothing, it’s a fantastic distraction from doing actual work! I think that is a major contributing factor to my frolics with lipograms.

As with anything you do, it’s a bit of a thrill to find triumph in any taxing task.

Writing this lipogram was fun.

And that’s most important.

I found I was grinning on many occasions during my writing. Such silly actions can add fun to a working day, and possibly stop it from spiralling down into banality.

It’s a way of splitting up that long list of tasks you must finish, with original and unusual thinking. It might aid you in accomplishing your goals by providing you with a surprisingly vanguard approach to your work.

In summary…

Writing should thrill you.

So add fun to it!

Assist and boost your brain into thinking in distinct ways. If your writing is stagnant you will find this kind of activity handy. It’s a practical way out of mind rot.

Why not play along? Do your own lipogram.

Push your mind and your words to work for you.

So, in conclusion…

I want to proclaim this as a linguistic victory.

I’m as proud as a bird with ridiculously long tail quills!


Gar’th

Please follow and like: