Ask Yourself Why?

This fascinating presentation by the South American business man and entrepreneur Ricardo Semler asks a lot of great questions about work, life, and what it’s all about (it’s also pretty funny too!).
 


 
It certainly gave me a lot to think about.

I had an interesting chat today with a guy I used to work with a couple of years ago. We both spent a long time at the same company, and we were both generally (but not specifically) miserable for a great number of those years.

As with all these things, it’s only once you get away and look back do you realise just how unhappy you were, and you wonder why you put up with it for so long?

Thinking about it, it occurred to me it’s like the frog in a pan of water on a low heat. Turn the heat up slowly and frog will boil to death before he even realises what’s going on. But try to toss him into some already boiling water and he’ll jump straight out again!

So it is with unhappy situations. The really terrible ones are so shocking we escape from them immediately. The truly nasty, pernicious ones worm there way deep down inside us without us even realising it (often until we explode and don’t understand why?).

I got out by choice, training as a yoga teacher and then going traveling round the world. One of the best decisions I ever made. My friend had a little less of a choice about his exit, which made it a much harder and more painful experience for him.

But looking back now he truly believes it was the best thing that could have happened to him (work-wise, at least). He’s happier now, he’s about to embark upon his own business venture, and to quote him directly, he feels that “…a great weight has been lifted from [his] shoulders.”

Change can be hard, especially when it’s not by choice, but if we can take that change, build on it, and come out the other end with something that benefits us, then it makes it all worthwhile.

That’s what I think anyway. 🙂

Week 21: In which our hero goes offline, then goes glamping

Such an odd week this week. As well as not drinking I decided to do away with electronic distractions also; namely no internet, no DVDs and no iPod. I did allow myself some music, but no radio, and I tried to avoid listening to podcasts. Also, where possible, I left the mobile at home too. As best I could it was pretty total.

library selection

First thing I did, I read a lot. Got through three whole books in the first four days or so, as well as various bits of others. Then I started thinking. That was the point you see, without games to play, e-mails to check, and films to watch, I was leaving myself no refuge. I had to deal with my thoughts, and everything that involved.

Now I can’t go into too much detail on the general subject matter, as it ranged over many topics for a great length of time, but I can share some of the conclusion I came to. Here’s two extracts from something I wrote that pretty much sums it up nicely.

“…be centre stage in your own life rather than a bit player. And above all enjoy the life you’ve chosen, because you’ve got to do something day to day, so you may as well enjoy it, because it happening whether you do or not…”

“And remember, most of what happens to you is a construct in your head. They’re your thoughts, and opinions, and ideas; your moods and your musings; and not immutable facts. So you may as well construct a world you enjoy…”

Buddhists and Taoists will recognise the idea, it’s not original, but putting it into my own words really helped me put it into action. So that’s what I’m doing now, constructing a fun world to be in, because if I don’t, who will? 🙂

first barbecue of the summer

Also, as a consequence of not sitting online for hours each day, I got out and did more stuff. Met up with the lovely Sarah and, in an effort to enjoy the glorious sunshine, we went for a walk down by the river, had a (non-alcoholic) drink in a couple of pubs by the Thames, then went back to mine for the first barbecue of the summer. The burgers were excellent (Redwood Company) but the kebabs were a little under-done. Also I normally put some tofu marinated in BBQ sauce on there to liven them up a bit. Still, as first barbies go it did the trick!

glamping

Later in the week I was very fortunate to go ‘glamping’ (glam camping) at the surprisingly lovely Layer Marney Tower near Tiptree in Essex. I went with the Badgers, a bunch who through many years attending The Big Chill, have gotten into the habit of going on mini adventures around the place together (usually Cornwall for a bit of surfing, but we’re open to possibilities).

We are most fortunate in that one of our number is the Travel Editor for Cosmopolitan magazine (I kid you not!) so we get to enjoy the generous fruits of the many publicity driven freebies she has offered to her (God bless you Mrs Mu!).

camping cornucopia

This was by far the swankiest bit of camping I’ve ever done. A massive hut that slept 6, proper plumbing, showers and even a hot tub! I was amazed, and very pleased (I am so over normal camping). A wood burning stove provided heat and cooking facilities – vegan curries and fried breakfasts were abound – and we were quite sated by the end. A good time was had by all, and even getting lost in the fields and absolutely soaked on a poorly planned ‘stroll’ to Tiptree didn’t dampen our spirits.

The interesting bit for me was that, without the internet, I had to go old skool and do everything by phone. From finding out about the unexpected trip, to planning the meet, getting train times and information, I am so used to just having all this at my finger tips. That’s where the internet comes into it’s own, as a resource. It only becomes a problem when it turns into a distraction.

I guess that’s what I have learnt from the whole experience, to keep things in perspective – life, the Universe, and everything – to get out more and just do stuff, and that 99% of how the world is is down to how I view things and what I do about them. As the late great Bill Hicks said, “How about waking up and enjoying the life you’ve chosen?” Amen brother.

ps: I’m famous! The very lovely and super cool Rickicupcake has featured me as this weeks Ask A Vegan on her brilliant blog Seitanic Vegan Heathen Check her out when you’ve got a mo, she’s the tops and well worth the effort. Cheers Ricki for the kudos. I’m well chuffed, hahaha 🙂

Structure, and something new

So I’ve been thinking…

This blog thing needs some kind of structure. I don’t want it to be just a load of ramblings. It needs a framework, or a timescale, something to keep it moving along and keep it interesting (if you know the whole Julie & Julia thing you’ll know what I mean). So for starters I’m going to stick with the weekly report. Maybe not in the format I did yesterday, but at least a summation of what I’ve accomplished that week, so I know where I’m at. And for the moment I’m going to set myself 2 tasks;

1. To do something new every week (of a reasonable standard, not just take 2 sugars in my tea instead of 1)

2. To create a new recipe every week (did I mention I’m quite into my cooking)

So there it is, my first two weekly tasks. I may add or subtract as I go along, I don’t know yet. Or I may abandon the idea in favour of a 1 year mission starting January 1st. You never know. Could even be a bit of both.

ps. Today I’ve emulated this garlic and cucumber dish I had in Hong Kong recently (did I mention I was in Hong Kong the other week learning some Tai Chi – not something I usually do, let me assure you, and probably part of the reason I want to do more with myself now), and I’ve decided this is going to be a week of Tai Chi (practicing what I learnt in Hong Kong). Let’s see how it goes.