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 meaningful. 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.


Resolve – diving in versus pulling out

This year I resolve that I will dive in to the following:

  • Wife and Family
  • Everything social
  • Writing, Work and Study
  • Fitness
  • Music
  • Outdoors

…and I will pull out of the following:

  • Randomised time wasting (aimless internet, mainly)
  • Sugar binging
  • Late nights
  • Wasted weekends

The biggest challenge here is probably study and work related – How to find time for creativity and learning.

Happy new years.


Good if…

Drinking is good if you can stop after a couple.

Listening to podcasts is good if you have set a time and a place for regularly listening to them.

Technology is good if you use it, rather than it using you.

Exercise is good if you have had enough sleep and food to carry you through.

Relationships are good if you can look after yourself.

The internet is good if you create as well as consume.


Pleasure, sadness and reality

As an experiment, try and find the habits in your daily life that are driven by pleasure – you know the ones i mean – those things you do when you’re a little bit bored which give you that nice little buzz and dopamine hit.

It is difficult. It forces you to reflect on your actions and life, and it eventually forces you to recognise that pleasurable things are not the most fulfilling things, precisely because they are temporary and external. In this way, pleasure is different to happiness.

Pleasure is a momentary feeling that comes from something external — a good meal, a message notification, making love and so on. Pleasurable experiences can give us momentary feelings of satisfaction, but this feeling does not last long because it is dependent upon external events and experiences. Try and locate the pleasurable (not happy, remember) activity in your life and try to stop doing it for a whole day – I’m almost certain you’ll find it hard to do.

But pleasure is not wrong in and of itself – so why stop? Because we need to know how we feel without the constant pleasure seeking. Are we doing all these things because we are sad without them? And if we are in fact sad about something, shouldn’t we find a more permanent solution?

The trouble comes when we ascribe the pleasurable activities in our lives more value and power than we should. A drug addict gives heroine priority over everything else – she sees it as the source of her happiness and of her power in life. Similarly a bulimic ascribes power to food and the control thereof. In actual fact, drugs and throwing up give us but a temporary pleasure – not a true satisfaction. They are not the answer to any sadness that is felt.

Once we see the things we are deriving pleasure from, a useful next step is to reflect on how we feel when we do not have access to these things – are we happy or sad without them? If we are happy without them, then there is no real problem. Carry on living.

If we are sad without them, and furthermore if we rely on the activity more than we should – then something needs to change for the sadness to lift.

Setting expectations

Every now and then you will run into conflict. At work, at home, or inside your head. These moments are normally due to expectations that have not been met. They’re best treated as an opportunity to set or reset expectations around the topic.

Almost any destructive behaviour I can think of is the result of expectations not being met. A missed deadline is a missed expectation. An angry spouse is likely a missed expectation. A compulsive obsession is a missed expectation.

Be clear about what you expect of yourself and others. It matters perhaps more than anything else.



How many of your life’s decisions are chosen by your ego? For me personally, my ego gets in the way a lot. The ego wants things in a very particular way to satisfy its urges.

Often this only leads to a cycle of pleasuring the ego, while the greater goal rides off into the sunset.

If we can learn when to get out of the way and let a situation unfold without intervention, it is a lot less tiring that fighting tooth and nail to change the course of the tide.

What is your life’s map going to be?

For anyone interested in maps I would highly recommend this a16z podcast: link

Maps are diagrammatic representations of our world around us. Unknown areas are blank spaces, known areas are full of available detail.

As a species, we humans are becoming predominantly sensor carrying data creators. Not just our watches and our phones attached to our bodies, but our cars and our homes are causing tidal waves of information to flow and to be captured.

One of the consequences is a mapping of life as we know it. You are most likely creating a map of your life online and in ever more detail.

You also have a say in what it says about you.