January 22, 2015

Being ‘Better’

For the last few years I’ve avoided the post Christmas New Year rush to new me-dom by carefully arranging to be in the US or Australia in January. This year I’ve been here and I’ve absorbed the full onslaught of the pressure of being fitter, thinner, more organised, happier, more successful in 2015.   This does have the adverse effect of making me want to reach for a bar of chocolate or pour a large glass of wine.  Being ‘better’ is  commodified for profit (outsourcing your weight loss or gym memberships that end up costing £100 a visit) or utilised for entirely laudable charitable fundraising (I’m doing the Bath Half Marathon for Cancer Research myself) but within this I think there are real opportunities to avoid the guilting to be better, just enjoy life a bit more and take it a little less seriously.

The campaign that appealed most to me has been This Girl Can.  Loads of vitriol online but anything that reminds me how much I used to enjoy netball at school and kicking a football at uni without ladling on the guilt gets my vote. Headphones in, five layers of lycra, I’m off for a run…

November 13, 2014

Creativity, Leadership and Introverts

I’ve been thinking a lot about introversion recently, mainly in terms of the ways in which I can better understand and work more successfully with the people I coach, mentor, tutor or work with to develop bespoke leadership or entrepreneurship programmes.  Myers Briggs tells me that I sit bang in the middle between Extrovert and Introvert and I now know that this is called an ambivert.  I learned this from a fascinating TED talk ‘The Power of Introverts’ by Susan Cain, a former corporate lawyer and negotiations consultant and a self-described introvert.  Along with what she calls ‘the year of speaking dangerously’ which I think is a brilliant way to get over an aversion to public speaking, she has three great calls for action.  The TED talk has been around for a couple of years but definitely worth a look and totally justifies keeping my books in a suitcase but encourages me to take them out and share sometimes.

July 28, 2014

Summer Thinking

Just back from being coached and feeling full of ideas and motivation for the summer and beyond.  Planning a trip to Australia to attend the Accelerate intensive session and to meet up with good friends, a new project and some exploratory conversations to build on existing work.  After a really useful planning session my insightful coach sent me the following piece:

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow

I have read Abramowski’s piece on ‘active procrastination’ (New voices, March 2014) but am not, on this occasion taking her advice. Instead, her thoughts touch on three points I’d like to mention which I might as well do straight away.

In the 1950s and 60s Professor Alec Rodger teaching occupational psychology at Birkbeck underlined that in developing a career there were at least two opposing strategies which might try to match an individual’s inclinations and abilities with external circumstances and opportunities. For some, a headlong target-oriented approach was appropriate in developing one’s career; while for others (guess who I am thinking of), both external fortune and internal inclination better prescribed a procrastinatory (though agile at the right moment) strategy. The idea is an old one, and none the worse for that.

The strategy applies not only on a grand scale to an individual’s design of one’s life; it can also be applied on a micro scale as when one attends a public meeting intending to make an impact with some point. Does one speak early on – or reserve one’s contribution until late in the session? Doing the latter allows one to take into account the forces in play and to try to pitch a comment or question in  a niche that has not been explored and in a way that either suits or challenges the emerging consensus.

There is one deadline, however, that not all active procrastinators can rely on beating – the Grim Reaper’s call. For people ‘of an age’ it is as well to focus on what one might want to achieve in the unpredictably limited time that remains – and there are some projects one can prioritise while leaving others to take their chances.

Mallory Wober PhD
London NW3
The Psychologist,  May 2014

Really focusses the mind – even with us active procrastinators!