thoughts

    It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you just are who you are, forgetting the power you have to take action and become who you want to be.

    Let’s not let the challenges of the past and the present hold you back from moving forward towards where you want to go.

    Keep taking those steps, no matter how tiny they may feel. They all add up if you just show up and keep moving.

    Smile when you can. It makes the journey more fun.

    So here’s to the future, and the steps we’ll take to shape it.

    A sandy beach covered in footprints with the ocean behind

    Interesting to hear Malcolm Gladwell talk about his writing process on MasterClass.

    He shared how he breaks every piece of writing down into small, numbered sections before stringing it all together and figuring out what goes where and working on transitions. He didn’t mean sections like chapters in a book or even subheadings in an article, he suggested that his sections are often far more granular than that.

    Sounds pretty basic. But this approach makes large, intimidating projects easier to handle. It also helps build a feeling of ongoing momentum. I do something similar but without the numbers. Think I’ll give the numbers a go.

    This has been a year of discovering American sports. Feels like they never stop, except for the ads. Chose Chicago as my base, don’t ask me why. It amazes me how frequently Americans stop me in the street to talk about the Cubs when I’m out in my cap, even in some of the most remote corners of Europe.

    I’m currently listening to The Now Habit audiobook by Dr Neil Fiore. 📚

    It’s about beating procrastination. My main takeaway so far is the idea of replacing ‘I have to’ do [task] with ‘I choose to’ do [task].

    If there’s something to do, and I’ve agreed to do it, then that was a decision I made instead of facing the alternative. So just do it and stop whining, or make the decision not to, deal with the consequences and move on to the next thing.

    Dr Fiore highlights that productive people are able to reduce the agitated energy of a huge pending task by focusing on what can be done now. No matter how small the step.

    Perfectionism is another big cause of procrastination. It’s something I’m certainly guilty of. Dr Fiore emphasised the importance of accepting you’re human and that it’s normal to make mistakes and for things not to go perfectly. He suggests not giving yourself big expectations as this can stop you from doing the things you need to do.

    Sounds quite simple when you write it down like that, but it’s much more difficult to put into action when you risk something going wrong.

    For me the ongoing energy, mood and consequences of procrastination are worse than almost anything. It’s something to fix.

    Good listen so far, will keep going.

    Funny? Funny how?

    Watched a MasterClass video with the poet Billy Collins about reading and writing poetry.

    He made the point that it’s easy for anybody to pretend to be serious but impossible to pretend to be funny. You are either funny or you aren’t.

    Got me thinking about how so much B2B content could do with more humour and personality. Is your audience really so serious?

    It’s easy to pretend to be serious with a stern face and half-baked ‘thought leadership’, but it’s much more difficult to put yourself out there with some personality and a sense of humour.

    I think the world needs more of it. What an opportunity.

    Collins highlighted that Chaucer and Shakespeare loved to throw in jokes all over the place, and then the romantic poets came along and tried to bring that to a close.

    Keats and Wordsworth are great poets. But I would probably rather have a chat, and a couple of drinks, with Chaucer or Shakespeare. When technology allows, of course.

    There’s a whole world of B2B content where jokes and puns are frowned upon. You may feel the need to be serious to get your content signed off. Yes, humour has its place, but why not expand it where we can?

    And the punchline? Well, just watch this post gain hardly any traction and imagine my expression as I realise where I’ve been going wrong.

    LinkedIn post

    Em dashes (—), en dashes (–) and hyphens (-)

    I’m currently rereading Dreyer’s English to brush up on some American grammar and enjoy the excellent prose of a man so in love with the craft of writing.

    While chatting about this book on a call with somebody this morning, the conversation turned to hyphens and dashes.

    Lots of people don’t give much thought to the fact that em dashes (—), en dashes (–) and hyphens (-) all have different lengths and should be used for different purposes.

    Hands up if you’re guilty of reaching too quickly for the hyphen.

    Watched: Noam Chomsky’s ‘Independent Thinking and Media’s Invisible Powers’ course on MasterClass. 🎥

    Well worth the time. Being sceptical of the information we get is perhaps more important than ever. About two billion people are voting this year in a world where AI makes it easy to facilitate misinformation and disinformation on a massive scale.

    New year, new home for my thoughts. Let’s make writing here a habit in 2024.