Atrophy

If you ever want to prove the rule of atrophy, just go on a holiday.

We left the house in mostly working order. WiFi, phones, alarms, pets, cars all up and running.

But when we came back last night, the gremlins had struck. The power was out, which had tripped our alarm, which had sent the dogs into a two day frenzy. Phone and WiFi has disconnected. The car was dead. And so on.

If you throw a bunch of bricks in the air, it’s almost impossible that they will land on top of each other in a nice organised wall. Atrophy is a natural order of things. It means that everything falls apart and bends toward chaos, unless it is maintained.

Just ask my dogs.

Wind and whales

It’s a gusty day here by the sea. our kids are bothered by the sand and the choppy water. The whales don’t seem to care.

I just saw my first breach – like a rocket launching out the ocean.

Coming up from the deep with such force, the whale’s head and shoulders pushed into the air. It looked for a moment like the giant learned how to fly.

Then with half of its body out the water, the launch failed. The rocket fell down to the sea with a monstrous crash. I could see the explosion of water from kilometers away.

They’re still lolling about out there as I type this. Viva whales.

Rain

The rain has set in. The last few days on holiday have been hot and humid but now the cold front is here and we’re enveloped in cloud and cold air.

No hiking with the little ones. We’re playing table tennis and dominos with other guests at the hotel to pass the time.

For a few years we were in a drought, missing the rain in Cape Town. One wet winter and I find I’m wishing for the drought again. Fickle and selfish thoughts set in when you get bored I guess.

For now, indoors and bunkered down is the way forward. I find I am rearranging the apps in my phone for no particular reason.

The mind is a funny thing.

Who are you? personality traits

Our personalities are made up roughly of 5 different traits.

  • Agreeableness: Compassion and Politeness
  • Conscientiousness: Industriousness and Orderliness
  • Extraversion: Enthusiasm and Assertiveness
  • Neuroticism: Withdrawal and Volatility
  • Openness to Experience: Openness and Intellect

If you take a personality test, there is a high chance that it will grade you in terms of the above personality traits. Each personality trait and aspect (and your relative position with respect to them) has advantages and disadvantages.

It’s an interesting exercise in self-assessment. I was surprised by the results I got at first, but then upon thinking about them I saw how it might be accurate.

As with anything, you build up a narrative about yourself inside your head. This narrative is your own to create and change – and it might not be the same story that everyone else would tell about you. The more you can align your story with the outside world’s assessment of you, the more at ease you will be with this difficult life.

Emotional labour – extremes

Emotional labour is hard because we don’t feel like doing it. Put yourself in the shoes of another on purpose. It takes effort. By doing this you can make things easier for them to understand and to enjoy your company. They are more likely to listen to you.

At its easiest this process is smooth – Showing your child the stars and the moon. Explaining something to someone you already love. Maybe this doesn’t even count as labour, but it is rewarding – it gives as much as it takes – I saw the Milky Way with fresh eyes after taking it for granted for so long. I was proud and confident to sell our night skies to her.

At the business end of the spectrum emotional labour is often incredibly difficult and the crux of any transaction. To understand what drives another person – what will affect their status and their emotions? And to convince them of your ability to add value – that is work indeed. Marketing at its core. Do they need you? What are they thinking?

I market the galaxy to my daughter and it’s simple. I market a service to a bank and it’s brutally hard.

Trying to start a streak

Fred Wilson blogs on the power of streaks (link)

This is something I have not been able to generate in my life lately. Life with two tiny children is challenging, fun, tiring, amazing and, above all, interrupted! There is not a minute goes by where the parent is not needed for something – especially true when both parents are working from home as we are. Starting a streak in ANYTHING is tough.

Things in which I could start a streak, even with two little demanding limpets attached to my leg all day:

  • this blog – post every day until it’s a shame to not keep it up (keeping limpets off the keyboard)
  • listen to a new album every day (at night, when limpets sometimes fall asleep)
  • get a new customer in business every month (limpet-permitting)
  • going to the gym (dropping limpets at the limpetcare centre)
  • greeting my wife kindly each day (limpets actually help with this one)
  • eating right (not too hard – helps if limpets sleep, and then I sleep, and then sugar cravings subside)

etc. etc.

Streaks are the result of habits, and habits change your world…..limpets-permitting.

Long term>Short term

I am always pushing myself to focus more on the long term. This is focused on plans I have made with my wife. This is not as easy as I had hoped. The problem is expediency. Expediency is spending time on things that are convenient versus spending time on things that are in your best interests.

Long term plans help to distinguish what is expedient and what is meaningful.

For myself – our family, our business, and my own professional and personal fulfilment are meaningful. This blog is meaningful. Exercise and study are meaningful. Facebook newsfeed is not┬ámeaningful. Facebook messenger and Twitter are meaningful. Mindfulness and giving my head some space are meaningful. Nutrition is meaningful. Friends are meaningful.

A small quick paragraph to write, but to stick to it is very hard given all the temptations and distractions that abound.