NAVIGATING THE FUSTERCLUCK

One of the biggest frustrations I get asked for help with is navigating office politics. It’s really not my area of expertise, I have always been a little too “call it like I see it”. My general advice is not to get sucked into a game you can’t win; like all politics, you can quickly end up in over your head.

Enter my old buddy Wegs. Full name Jim Wegerbauer but we are all invited to call him Wegs (rhymes with eggs). Wegs is a great human being. I met Wegs back in my Victors & Spoils days, he was vulnerable and transparent way before Brene Brown made that OK.

His new podcast is pure Wegs, I couldn’t get my headphones fast enough. He calls his podcast ‘snackable insights to help you navigate the topsy/turvy world of creativity’. While his experience is deep in adland it has so much relevance for anyone navigating the topsy/turvy world period.

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Even better, he dedicates the first two episodes of Navigating the Fustercluck (how great is that title) to the tricky issue of Office Politics. My favorite nugget is his reference to a piece of George Bernard Shaw wisdom “never wrestle a pig in the mud, the pig likes it”. Wegs cautions about getting in the dirt with your office nemesis, commenting “you will just get dirty”.

There is so much wisdom jam-packed into this fabulous resource and the best part is that his content is mostly short. Wegs powers through topics from Happiness and Certainty to Office Politics and Collaboration, all in under 15 minutes.

Check him out here

FIND YOUR FOCUS

There are a million little things we manage to distract ourselves with. Some days we even justify those things as priorities. Like spending hours on email knowing your inbox is not your priority but really it’s filled with other people’s priorities. Social media is a fan-favorite non priority distraction and of course the necessary time you spent online tracking down a specific pair of shoes you really don’t need.

Then there are the things that seem like priorities but they really are not. Watching three hours of Ted Talks that you call ‘research’ but you know you should really be working on the paper that is due. Reading books about sleep when you just should go to bed earlier. Or re-writing your company pitch deck for the 7th time when your time would be so much better spent doing just-about-anything-else.

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Some days, and some tasks, just seem hard. There are days when the last thing I want to do is focus on a priority task. I’m tired, I’m hungry, the house is a mess, I need another coffee, my email is stacking up and my team needs me for a million other things. It’s like there is temptation in distraction. It’s like I want to do all the wrong things; anything but that task that is looming in technicolor in front of me. That task I know is a priority but I just can’t get to it.

I so get it. You know what you are supposed to be working on but for some reason you can’t get started. You have cleared the time; you are in a quiet zone; you have turned off all the distractions - but you still struggle to get started. I used to find this with writing and then I discovered binaural beat videos on YouTube which are the ultimate hack to get you through the labyrinth of distraction.

Binaural Beat Therapy is music that plays a specific frequency that your brain adjusts to sync with. Through this use of frequencies the music is actually capable of changing your mood. I am not going to pretend I understand the science but the internet tells me that binaural beats are an ‘auditory illusion’ that ‘promote optimal brainwave states’. AKA listening to them produces a specific response from your body.

Research on binaural beats suggests they improve the production of the hormones cortisol, DHEA, and melatonin in your body. The release of these chemicals, among others is the mood-altering part of the binaural beat magic. This article in Psychology Todayexplains how binaural beats can aid sleep and the reduction of anxiety.

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I’m literally listening to one right now as I write. After a full day of writing and working I was hitting a wall. A late night conference call last night was catching up with me. My inner three year old was telling me to do anything but persevere with my blog writing.

Now when I feel this way I to immediately go to YouTube and hit play on one of the videos. And this blog just poured out of me. I told you, magic!

I have compiled a few of my favorites on my YouTube channel - check them out here. There is a one hour one which is great for a very specific task and then a number of three-hour ones which I love for focussed productivity.

See if they work for you. YouTube will helpfully suggest a number of other ones for you too, so make sure to browse and find the one that works for you.

Now go get on those priority tasks!

THE OPPORTUNITY IN THE PROBLEM

Photo Credit: Pexels-photo-415188

Photo Credit: Pexels-photo-415188

You fall down as a kid, you look around to see if anyone is watching. If they are not, well you get up and start doing whatever you were doing before. As an adult, you freeze, concerned that you might fall down and someone might be watching.

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Brene Brown talks about the importance of having “the courage to be imperfect”. In her 2010 Tedx talk she references how earth shattering it was to learn that you cannot control and predict your way to a great life. That life is messy. That a great life is messy.

Sure, fine. Sounds great in a TedTalk. Not so great when you are chasing a deadline and start to feel like you are never going to get there. Not so great when you are busting your butt trying to find a new job and every twist and turn feels like a no. Not so great when you know you have to start a project, and you really want to start the project, but that voice in your head is on a loop of “you are not good enough, you will never pull this off”.

In his Commencement Address at Merrimack College, Charlie Day (creator and actor in the off-the-wall show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) talks about the mess of his success. He talks about the panic that came over him as prepared his address to his alma mater. “Yes”, he says, “I can be worried about all these things going wrong”. But, he declares in a way only Charlie Day can, “I don’t give a shit”. He continues, “You cannot let a fear of failure stop you from doing what’s going to make you great. You cannot succeed without this risk of failure.”

Everything happens for a reason. But sometimes the reason is that you’re stupid and you make bad decisions. Everyone makes stupid decisions. We go to the beach instead of working, we waste hours researching instead of writing the paper, we spend too much time applying to jobs online instead of using our networks.

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Life is messy and as a very smart person once told me “there are no facts about the future”. Trying to make it otherwise is a futile waste of your time and energy.

Your job in these moments is not to focus on the problem but instead look for the opportunity. You are behind or lost or maybe even jobless - what is the one thing you can do to start moving forward? What is the one thing you can do to broaden the scope of the immediate issue and find a solution in a different realm.

Decide you don’t give a shit! What would you do if no one was watching and you knew you couldn’t fail?

DO THAT!

CHANGE IS NOT A FOUR LETTER WORD

CHANGE IS NOT A FOUR LETTER WORD

The concept of squiggling was born from my experience in start-up land. Creating a new business and ‘going it alone’ is an emotional rollercoaster. And often that is all that you feel, alone. It’s daunting, scary and often confusing. It’s also exciting, fun and intensely rewarding.