Just Finished: Brain Rules

Brain Rules by John Medina –  This book was recommended to me by a professor of music education as a good book for learning about teaching methodology.   Even as simplified as the science is, it’s pretty heady stuff (pun intended).  However, if you do any sort of presentations or teaching, there are some good insights on how to improve the way you present.  Here were my 4 key takeaways:

  1. Review a project before starting on it, go to sleep, then start the next day.  Your brain will review the patterns all night while you sleep and help you better tackle the challenge the next day.
  2. When presenting, you’ve got seconds to grab someone’s attention and only 10 minutes to keep it.  At 9 minutes 59 seconds you must do something to restart the clock – something emotional and relevant.
  3. Stories and examples reinforce memory.
  4. Our brains pay special attention to objects in motion, so include video and animation in presentations.

May 2018

The biggest influence on my insights this month was easily Show Your Work by Austin Kleon.  I’m supposed to be reading Brain Rules (and I am) but it’s pretty heady stuff, pun intended.   I got diverted and started re-reading Steal Like An Artist by Kleon which lead me to Show Your Work.  I read both of these books in a matter of days.

You can read my full reviews on the books here, but the combination of the two books helped me to come up with my own social media policy and to try and be creative every day.

For my new Social Media policy, it’s very simple – Share something that is interesting, entertaining, or helpful.  Is a picture of my dog, or food, or something mundane any of those things?  Probably not.  Is the way I plan my workout routines as a Personal Trainer helpful?  Maybe a little more so.

For creativity, the books gave me a spark of motivation to sit down and write.   I started using two simple prompts in my daily journal:

1. What did I make today?
2. What did I learn today?
Each of these prompts forces me to do something creative each day and to try and learn something each day.  This doesn’t have to be something huge, but as I said before, the value of doing a little of something each day acts like compounding interest that can give a larger pay off over time.
Outside of drawing motivation from these books, I also took time to go to a festival and to visit the riverfront park that I hadn’t been to in a long time for a leisurely walk, as opposed to a fast paced run.  Reflecting on this, it made me realize that while I take a lot of comfort in routines, it’s very easy to get stuck in rut.  My new goal is to do go somewhere new-ish or experience something new each month in order to break up the routine just a bit.
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It pretty much rained all month in May…

Favorite Articles from the Month:

April 2018

Creativity is the residue of time wasted – Albert Einstein

We went camping in April, and spent the majority of the time doing….nothing. My April activity balanced the needs of many new experiences with that of idle time. In our productivity centric society, the idea of wasting time is sacrilege; but this month reinforced to me that sometimes there is a great value in doing nothing or doing things that are a waste of time within a balanced frame work.

Taking time to be in nature, to turn off your phone, not listen to music, and just look around can refresh your mind. Using time to do relaxing activities that might not have any real merit, like playing video games, can also have some benefit in moderation. Many of my reflexions from the month highlighted that joy.

Of course, idle time needs to be balanced with output of creativity and insights. April was used to restart some creative pursuits, like drawing, and to do and experience new things. For instance, in April:

  • I started to teach a new exercise class
  • I went to a new restaurant in town
  • I went to a new art festival
  • I started playing golf
  • I went on vacation somewhere I’d never been before

Doing even small things in town that are new experiences created new insights for me, and has given me drive to continue to look for new experiences each month. Can I carve out one day each month to do something or go somewhere new or fresh? That is the goal for May and beyond.

Link I’m enjoying:

Here’s What It Looks Like Inside the Handmade Sketchbooks of a Well-Traveled Artist – This look inside the notebooks of artist Jose Naranja is just inspirational

The Read List

This list contains affiliate links, which means if you click on the link and make a purchase, I receive a small percentage of the sale at no cost to you. These links are not a paid endorsement of a product or service.

2018

Poke the Box by Seth Godin This book was less than 100 pages, but I found several notations in my journal for the ideas it generated. In summary, the book is about initiating, starting, doings, and then shipping – share the idea. But from there, what is the “idea” – what would I do if I had a TED talk? What could I build? The goal with “work” should be to generate unique learnings and interactions that are worth sharing.

The $100 Start Up by Chris Guillebeau The case studies of different micro business owners has been a great aid for me in ideation, reinforcing certain product management and business basics related to pricing, business plans, and examining a market. I highly recommend it.

 

March 2018

In March, modesty was a reoccurring theme. For me modesty means recognizing that you can’t do everything, and that if you do decide to do something (start any activity – exercise, writing, journaling, etc.) that there is going to be a trade off. For me, it is recognizing that I need to be modest in my use of time, and be modest in what I put on my plate.

The popular notation of a “side hustle” involves a trade off. For the time you spend each week developing a “side hustle”, you lose that time that you could have spent with your family, time you could have spent resting and recuperating so as to be at your best for other commitments and responsibilities. You have to examine why you want to take on extra work. What tangible benefit do you gain for the trade off you’re making? Is it really worth it?

A quote that stuck out to me in this regard: “As few as you can, as many as you must.” – John Stuart Mill

My second take away was related to the need for thankfulness. I used a guided run with the Nike Run Club app, and in doing the “don’t want to run” run there was a powerful quote/idea – it’s easier to tear yourself down than to build yourself up. It’s like how it’s easier to knock things off a shelf than to put them on the shelf.

For me, it’s very easy to get down on myself and what I’m not doing or on the goals I’ve still haven’t reached. However, it’s important to reflect positively on the things I have accomplished and the things I have been blessed with. Doing this type of positive reflection builds self-efficacy that reinforces that future goals can be reached if I persist.

This month, I performed brainstorming for the first time with the journal. Being able to put down the seeds of different ideas and flesh them out as the days went along had a real positive impact on my professional life this month. I would say without a doubt it was a combination of reading non-fiction and journaling that brought about this breakthrough for me.

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This month I’ve been reading The $100 Start Up by Chris Guillebeau. The case studies of different micro business owners has been a great aid for me in ideation, reinforcing certain product management and business basics related to pricing, business plans, and examining a market. I highly recommend it.

***This post does contain affiliate links, which means if you click on the link and make a purchase, i receive a small percentage of the sale at no cost to you. This link is not a paid endorsement of a product or service.

February 2018

In my reflections of this past month’s journal entries, there were two key influences over my thoughts and actions for the month: Time and Poke the Box

TIME: Time passes very, very quickly. When you’re involved in a number of activities within your community, the weekends quickly go by and you find little time for yourself to truly relax and pursue self-reflexition and rest. Each weekend of the past month was filled with activtivites and giving to others. However, there is a reward in giving of yourself to others, because yoou’re able to positively impact other peoples’ lives. And in turn, others will give to you based on what you give out. The underlying principle of you reap what you sow is shown through seeing the positive results your actions have. The things you do directly impact the results you achieve.

POKE THE BOX: I read Poke the Box by Seth Godin this month. This book was less than 100 pages, but I found several notations in my journal for the ideas it generated. In summary, the book is about initiating, starting, doings, and then shipping – share the idea. But from there, what is the “idea” – what would I do if I had a TED talk? What could I build? The goal with “work” should be to generate unique learnings and interactions that are worth sharing.

My hope is that putting these ideas I’ve learned over the past month in this online journal is worth sharing.

***This post does contain affiliate links, which means if you click on the link and make a purchase, I receive a small percentage of the sale at no cost to you. This link is not a paid endorsement of a product or service.

January 2018

One of my goals for this year is to keep a daily journal. Thus far, I’ve been able to stay on track, recording a thought, sketch, reflection, etc (almost) everyday. What benefit have I really gained?

My fear midway through was that this was just an exercise in navel gazing. My past journaling efforts fell by the wayside because I felt like I was just recording the repetitive daily routine I follow. This time around, I’ve tried to focus less on events and more on thoughts, self reflections, and in some cases mixing things up with doodles and art prompts.

One pay off I’m seeing is from my January 22 entry – It is clear that small creative acts done daily over time act as a compounding interest of sorts. The act of writing and sketching adds to my problem solving abilities and creative thinking. Also, having a compilation of reflections, quotes, and a record of a moment in time pays benefits later when you’re able to go back and read these reflections and see where your life is over time.

This was impressed to me when I found some old journal attempts from 6 and 7 years ago. To see where things are today having reached goals I set back then, and how much happier that has made me today having reached those goals, gives me confidence in the ability to reach current goals and to know the pay off at the end is the satisfaction of having accomplished something I set out to do.

This blog will act as my secondary journal to use as a consolidation and reflection of the previous month’s daily journal.  These insights I gain will be distilled here for quick reference and perhaps a public benefit.

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Articles that inspired my journaling: