Three quick tips to avoid the trap of tick-boxing

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Three ways to get out of “another fine mess I got me into”

Imagine you have just made a really dumb mistake.

Like deleting and trying to retrieve day’s worth of laborious data entry. You will know the feeling ……it’s like unscrambling this brainteaser puzzle below without a pen!

You have to do it mentally without leaving any guiding marks on the paper. (And you must not mentally cross any other mental tracks, And you’re tired, and the light is dim).

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I feel befuddled at the very thought! And that’s only in 2D. Then there’s internet marketing!

“Why, when  I try so hard to do this stuff, can’t I get it right?”

Is that what you whisper under your breath?

Perhaps you are a Dominant or Inspirational, or a Plant or Team-Player? Whenever you do one of those personality or leadership assessment style tests, do you feel just a little comforted by your summary? (If it’s what you expect I guess so). It’s very liberating to know what you are best at. And a bit disheartening if you need to offload an awful lot of the things you are not good at.

There’s an odd thing about most of you. (Whether you are “top of the wave” big-picture visionaries or into cautious detail and directions).

Yes, YOU REALLY LOVE LISTS.

Because of one of these , I had a sensible plan to out-source something I was avoiding. It was a daunting task for me.

Yes, I would pay someone else to migrate and blend a blog and a website into one home. Valuing my time and their skill I could have the pleasure of doing something else with them!

In a week it would all be streamlined and integrated! Great!

Blog self-hosted TICK

Website refreshed TICK

All hyperlinks tested TICK

Ultimately email list growth TICK

Well it didn’t work like that. The first seller freaked me out by directly asking for my Paypal details so I aborted that transaction.

The second one was mysteriously removed from the (shall remain unnamed) marketplace platform before my task was through, leaving me with NO original content and no new website. I did what I never wanted to do. I had to ask for generous support from a virtual friend to retrieve and re-direct everything back to where it started. Nine days locked out of webmail later and $40 lighter, I was SO tempted to repeat the mantra.

“Why, when  I try so hard to do this stuff, can’t I get it right?”

Yet, my list was covered in ticks!

Anyone that has attempted to unscramble their stuff knows how therapeutic it can be to write a list.

But the list isn’t the end, it’s a means to an end. And if working through a list means you skate over the task in hand then the list is a mockery of your intentions.

Make it a list of interdependent technical tasks and for creatives like me-you have a recipe for disorientation right there!

So to a favourite quote,

A threefold cord is not easily broken

However, a threefold cord in the wrong combination can be carefully disentangled.

To re-state and straighten out everything, just to be clear, here are the essential and effective list-maker’s three interdependent strands of a nearly indestructible cord of creation.

  • Lists should serve the intention (that’s why we have listservers)
  •  The intention should simplify the list (don’t even list the things that you don’t HAVE to or WANT to do)
  •  Thirdly, and where I had it wrong this time, YOU be that list-server or simplifier for someone else and those people will start to show up for you too!

Now I want to get you my my fun, free Mini Three-fold List check pdf

So here’s my dilemma.

I could spend more than half a day poring over the intricacies by which I can get you on my email list. And if I work really hard at stuff I’m not good at, I might get a clickable image here to send you to a contact form on my (recovered) website. There you subscribe and automatically receive a responder with a link to the URL of my dropbox saved freemium gift.

Wow! Instant for you, painstaking for me.

Or we could do something a bit different, trust each other and I simply ask you anyway to visit the site, subscribe, download it and take it from there. A simple service for those who really intend to do something with it!

Thanks, Gill

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Why I was fidgeting in 2015 and deluded about 2016!

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As everyone on the planet is doing today, I am about to offer my best wishes for a new and improved upgrade on 2015!

So was 2015 an upgrade on 2014?

For me, I really couldn’t say it was overall. Though it has had its moments of joy and defeat as every year does. The cycle of life often takes very elliptical turns and twists. We really cannot assume anything.

Yet, Hope does spring eternal and is always backed by good intentions and relevant effort for the most part. However, my challenge is always to manage that precariously fine balance of effort and expectation with gratitude and contentment.

Storm of Frankness

We just suffered a battering in the UK by Storm Frank that brought flooding and devastation to thousands of homes and livelihoods. Now, allow me to be frank as I too had my own little personal disruption. Unpleasant and yet refreshing, I now have a chance to tackle life with new vigour.

Let me admit it. I may have written a book on the subject. I may be the “Unravelling Frustration Guru” to some and I had a still deeper lesson into its cycles of intrusion coming. To me.

Yes, I still battle with this sucker.

To add context, I’ll explain that my rude awakening relates to my secret name Sought-After Dares. This identity was discovered through a defining moment upon reading Your Secret Name in 2011. You can download that story here.

Yet again, among the leftovers of Christmas, I was examining my persistent lack of breakthrough in life.

I was deeply challenged by my listening friend who actually suggested that even in my very deliberate and diligent efforts I was somewhat self-deluded.

Wham! That hurt!

(Who knows that wounds from a friend are invaluable, far more precious than kisses from an enemy?)

Why indeed do I, (and possibly you) work so hard, with so little breakthrough? In fact I encounter some disproportionate and unbelievable setbacks and U-turns. I suddenly flashed back: I was about seven years old, sent to my room as was common discipline after many childish mishaps. It broke my heart that for long hours no one came to me to resolve the situation.

No One Comes

So I realised a pattern, a glaringly obvious one.

I drive forward to a point in effort, or an investigation then I stop short of a breakthrough.

I eventually turn to prayer but do I really push in an invested way?

No!

The implementation or follow through on my dreams and desires is tantalising. Yet despite starting with vigour, I retreat because I have learned that “no one comes”.

It isn’t that I give up easily.

That’s what makes this insight so gut wrenching.

I strain, I strive and overwork without great results because I don’t first gain that definitive “Yes” in my spirit that is so hard to reach. So I go about doing it anyway.

In those days when I was banished to my room I used to have to entertain myself. I learned to be very self-sufficient and creative with the limited resources in my room.

So now, you see, when I get no breakthrough, I am setting about entertaining myself in busyness.

For a very purpose driven character, this is quite shocking to realise. I would never want to just “fill time”. However, somewhere I lost the balance between learning and acting.

This failure to thrive is costing me dearly. And so in transparency today, without self-pity or even wanting to disclose this stuff for the sake of it I ask,

“Can you and I be real this year, share burdens, hopes and dreams, cut the niceties and ask honestly How are  you doing and maybe how are you “not doing?”

Let’s think before we all send out our NYE greetings into crowded cyberspace. Before we casually wish everyone the best for 2016 with back slapping and tipsy hugs at midnight.

No fidgeting

Be such a friend that you will say the hard stuff and stand with one another through its aftermath?

Find a true friend, an accountability partner or group, and the fun takes care of itself.

A Truthful, Authentic New Year to you and yours!

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Hard-wired or soft? Brainstorming 5 misconceptions about creativity!

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Years ago, in around 1993, I created and delivered what was my first piece of home grown curriculum for a cohort of district nurses. It was a teaching series on pain and symptom management.  I had experienced my fair share of workshops and trainings that felt to me to be fuzzy, short on content and over-reliant on peer participant contribution.

The second time through my new content I invited an anaesthetist to lecture on neural pain pathways. I had prepared the nurses earlier with an overview of the evolution of the science, anatomy and physiology of pain perception.  I should have known better than to construct an over- tidy version of reality for them!

What happened next, created chaos for my conscientious crowd!

Here are five misconceptions I had unwittingly absorbed and may helpfully alert you as you consciously embark upon a creative venture of any kind.

  • Learn from the Masters

My guest, a stereotypical Professor Branestawm character, with his shock of grey hair and crumpled jacket cut an awe-inspiring figure. However, in all his innocently wise and self-deprecating confidence he airily dismissed my carefully imparted body of knowledge.  Everything I had taught them about pain management to this point. I was horrified and the students shifted uncomfortably at my unease.

It was happening again.  That phrase that teachers say when you start a new programme of study “You know everything you were taught at GCSE? Forget that!”

Or “You know everything you were taught at “A” Level? Forget that!”

That day, for the first time, we were hearing about the concept of neuroplasticity.

“Think “spaghetti in soup” rather than “hard wiring”” he said.

Along with these disruptive and unqualified doubts and questions about what we actually knew about the brain with reference to pain (amongst many other things) my tidy theoretical world collapsed. I wasn’t sure I wanted to familiarise myself with yet more new horizons.

It is valuable to know what came before.  However it is also wise to value the innocence you bring to a new endeavour and to keep it free from contamination of old ways of thinking that no longer serve you or your generation.

  •  “There’s nothing new under the sun”

I wanted to help colleagues learn and apply new information! I demonstrated my propensity to biting off a good bit more than I could chew with this huge topic of pain control.  It was a severely underwhelming service generally to dying patients and their carers’ at that time.

I used words, pens, flipcharts, models, discussion, Q and A, guest speakers and group-work techniques. Barely cutting edge then, before video-clip, social media interactivity or even power-point. There was nothing new in any of that.

However, I did offer a brand new compilation and context. There is always something new about everything, every group formation, every new face, ever new act of creation.

  • “Wait for your muse”/ spontaneous inspiration

As a newly married, I spent my Monday evenings in front of this group. Three hours a week for ten weeks! This was quite a commitment, a specific plan to rack up my teaching hours.  There were plenty of other options, no inspired promptings, just an entirely deliberate effort. The result? A piece of professional development that was really unique in its day and very helpful in promoting consistent and contemporary practice.

There was nothing inspired about it, it was a necessary development I chose!

  • Debuts are definitive

I was a graduate nurse in a full time hospice role, training for certification as an adult educationalist.  This teaching commitment was a test bed for my adventure into education. I was terrified about teaching QUALIFIED and EXPERIENCED nurses.  Yet I was passionate about how much could be learned to improve the experience of the incurably ill patient.  This was a pain barrier of my own I had to overcome.

Remember the first time IS MERELY the first time!  I am sure most of those learners have long forgotten me and my outdated material content.

All you and I need to focus on is getting consistently and incrementally better at what we create EVERY time!

  •  “Now for something completely different”

Ah now THIS is the real bottleneck to creative activity!

We are SO scared of repeating a trend, of being “beige”, we have forgotten that we need some familiarity in order to breed contempt (read curiosity). If we are so radical that there are no longer any landmarks anchoring our efforts to commend novelty as valuable, its value as a statement is lost.

The need to be different is so, so inferior to having to be authentic. Authenticity will always be the convincing point of contact with your cohort, your crowd or your client.

  • Start with the end in mind?

This is one of my favourite quotations.

However, when it comes to creative work, this could be the biggest block of all. Our best inspiration comes when we are not attached to a fixed idea. So just start, listen and pay attention to the unfolding of the created with the creator

Finishing isn’t the deal. Doing it is.

Next time we will re-visit this curious thing called neuroplasticity and what it has to teach us creatives!

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