Tag Archives: Life

Work/Life balance? What nonsense!

The phrase “work life balance” (or “work wife balance” as my brother in law says) makes no sense to me (hmm, actually work wife does seem potentially more useful… but I digress).

I have struggled with it for many years and am only now beginning to realise why it bugs me so much.  Basically it fundamentally conflicts with my view of life and, indeed, of work. The phrase doesn’t work (sic), its incomplete, its trite and just silly.  Its like saying “wall paper to house balance” or “ball to tennis balance”; its just nonsensical.

What is “life”?
Its this huge, incredibly all encompassing concept.  Massive and complicated and short and inspiring and so much more. Why is work not part of that?

What is “work”?
Something that means completely different things to different people at different times and in different places. Why does it need balanced?  Why is it separate from the rest of life?

Continue reading Work/Life balance? What nonsense!

Women are better than men?

Recently I’m being followed around by this message: Women are much better at business than men.

Nonsense!  “Glass ceiling, sexism, men have all the high paying jobs, etc, etc”
Yeah, but that’s not the fact that keeps rearing up where ever I look.  So don’t confuse me.

Yeah, but it is a generalisation. And all generalisations are bad!
That’s true (wait… what?), but this is really about me articulating an important point I am attempting to learn in a slightly disingenuous way.

OK, so what do you mean “followed around”?
Glad you asked.  Here is a completely un-random sample:

  •  An off hand statement over coffee from Eoghan MacKie, who is the force behind Challenges Worldwide (they do amazing work matching talent to businesses in low income countries). I’ll paraphrase: “One of the major indicators of a successful and sustainable business is a high percentage of women involved“.
  • I have spent years watching (with a little envy it must be admitted) the successful growth of SKChase into an amazing culture and an inspirational company. SKChase was founded by Kaye Clarke and Steph Wilson and is almost entirely female.   They accidently employed a bloke a few years back, but that doesn’t seem to have held them back too much (sorry Ben).  I did a lot of web dev for them over the years and wish I could learn more about non-techie things from them!
  • I just finished listening to the episode of Tim Conley’s Foolish Adventure show where he interviews Mark Manson of Postmasculine.com.  In the interview Mark throws out some data about how (I assume in the US) women under 30 are successfully turning the old gender assumptions on their heads.
  • We don’t have any women working for us AND the company hasn’t made me millions yet!
See? I’m haunted.  It adds up to incontrovertible proof.

Success: one day at a time

How is success measured for you?

Earning the money you need for the lifestyle you want? Having and keeping a happy family? Lots of travel and experiences? Climbing the career ladder? A big house full of all your stuff? Respect in the eyes of your peers? Having a positive impact on the world around you? Simply enjoying life? Reaching a comfortable retirement? Success in sport?

I haven’t yet worked out exactly what success looks like for me.  To make it even more confusing it seems to have changed at different times in my life, or even on different days of the last week! Looking back at this summer (Northern summer that is) one day does leap out in my memory as successful.

Not that it was the only day, very far from it, I mean I had an actual summer, with sun and everything (sorry, probably I wouldn’t find that funny if I didn’t live in Scotland).  Just that this day seems to typify how I currently measure success.

Continue reading Success: one day at a time

Stop wasting time!

One of my current challenges is being efficient, not just in how I work but in what I do.

I see lots of advice and comments on this, there seems to be an endless supply of schemes and programs that are aimed at helping productivity.  The problem is that its too easy to get caught up in the system and lose track of the goal.

So I’ve come to a conclusion: there are two things I will concentrate on, everything else is window dressing.  When I am better at these I achieve more and am happier about it.

This isn’t rocket science, when I focus on one thing I get it done.  When I’m trying to do lots of things (or think about lots of things) I get nothing done.

So why am I spending so much time in the ‘blue’ region?

 Achieve, not just spend time
There is too much to do, absolutely no way that I can fit in everything I want to.  So obviously the challenge is deciding what to do.  From a personal perspective this is boiling down to choosing those things that I feel are most important and/or enjoyable.

From a business point of view I am not yet doing well on this.  A huge amount of my time seems to be used up on the stuff (mostly technical) that I could be delegating, outsourcing or otherwise getting done differently.  Of course, there are lots of reasons; “I can do it better”, “it takes to long to explain”, “can’t afford it”, “its what I’m good at” and many more.

That’s not good enough.

My resolution from now is to change things so that all my time is on the most important parts of the business. That will be challenging personally, practically and financially; but it is the only way that I or the business can grow.

Something Amazing?

So I came to a conclusion the other day while sitting in my “office” in Sa Pa (northern Vietnam) looking out at the cloud shrouded mountains.

I am doing something amazing.

Not just a thing, or a good thing or even a great thing; but something that is truly outstanding.

There are two significant parts to this for me.  The first is that doing something so cool is obviously significant, but the second is a subtler and probably even more personally significant. I am actually aware that it is amazing and am confident enough to talk about it.  The latter is such a big deal because it represents a huge break from my usual Northern Irish (and Scottish for that matter) self-effacing, “I’m sorry you stood on my foot” lack of self confidence.

That is a big step.

Don’t get me wrong, nothing is perfect and this thing I am doing is not unique (oops, slipping back into devaluing it, maybe I’ve only taken a little step after all).

So what am I talking about?  Well I am glad you asked:  I can work from pretty much anywhere on the planet; and I am actually doing it!

I can have a location independent lifestyle, be a digital nomad or whatever the coolest term is now. My skills, business and life have reached the point that I have been talking about for an extremely long time.  That I find amazing!

Earlier this year I was going to my “office” in Uganda in the living area of my new friend Harry’s house in Kampala (check out powerstationafrica.com – its truly inspiring). And I’ve just spent 2 months in Vietnam moving “office” every week or so as I slowly made my way from Saigon (HCMC) to these beautiful (if a bit damp) mountains in the north.

I’m properly working as well, putting in longer hours in Vietnam than I have recently in Scotland, plus I have become rejuvenated about both my current business and future opportunities.  All while having a great time exploring this gorgeous, fascinating, challenging, fun country with food to die for!

Not bad, even if I do (finally) say so myself.