The Neural Grind

In the trenches of the neural tug-of-war

Category: Productivity

Life Is Not A Dress Rehearsal

When you’re old and gray, grandchildren on your lap: what’s the one big project you’ll brag about? What’s the one thing you’re delighted and proud you accomplished during your career?

I gave this some thought and came up empty. I quickly understood I had to change a few things — I decided I’ll not retire until I have at least one such accomplishment behind me.

It’s a profoundly sad thought to have spent a whole life without anything to be truly proud of. What would cause this? No ambitious goals? Too much Facebook? Being too considerate and kind to get what you’re after? Too lazy? Lack of structure? Fear? Not seeing what’s really important?

Life Is Not a Dress Rehearsal

This is the one chance you get. Wouldn’t it be an incredible waste if spent on scattered projects leading nowhere? I get the feeling that’s what most of us do, being reactive and taking whatever comes in our lap, not knowing when to say “no” and when to say “yes”.

This requires one thing: a goal, and a relentless pursuit of this goal. That, in turn, requires you do give up other projects that get in the way of this goal. That’s hard to do, but if it was easy it probably wouldn’t be worth doing anyway.

I write about personal growth, psychology, leadership, relationships and soft skills at The Neural Grind.

Everything That Needs to Be Said Has Already Been Said

But you can re-frame it and put it in a different perspective. That’s what writing, or any creative output is all about.

Some days, doing any creative endeavour can feel meaningless, especially when we start to think “this has been done before”. Of course it has, but why should that discourage us? André Gide said “Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.” 

That’s important to remember, every single time you try to make something new. It’s not really new, but it’s yours. It’s a little different, and most likely it bears repeating because not everyone heard it the first time.

Don’t ever let the feeling that it’s been done before hold you back. Just remember to give it your own voice.

I write about personal growth, psychology, leadership, relationships and soft skills at The Neural Grind.

The News is full of Soothsayers

The other day, I listened to the news just after there had been a bombing raid in Syria. In the following days, the news broadcasts were mostly filled with so-called experts who chimed in on what was going to happen next.

I don’t doubt their expertise, but I seriously doubt they have the ability to predict the future. Yet, every news-channel everywhere in the world are filling airtime with people making predictions.

Are these predictions useful? Do they help us in any way or do they simply instill fear in us, making us spend even more time in fearful listening to try and foresee the unforeseeable future?

I decided it’s not a productive way to spend time listening to fearmongers and experts state what they think is going to happen next. It’s merely my fear that feeds on these opinions. Spend some time catching up on the news, sure — it’s important to have a grasp on what’s going on in the world. But don’t become a fear-ridden news addict that have to listen to every analyst chiming in with their take on the situation. Spend your time making something interesting instead, or making a connection with someone else. The world will be much better off.

I write about personal growth, psychology, leadership, relationships and soft skills at The Neural Grind.

How One Simple Process Mistake Risk Destroying Your Best Work

How One Simple Process Mistake Risk Destroying Your Best Work
The deadline was in four days and I had never been so excited about anything I’d made before. The process had been painless. The animations were gorgeous, the attention to detail unmatched, the story entertaining. Everything was coherent and matched the soundtrack down to every little detail. Even the project handoff went great. In short, a great product that matched spec perfectly, something I was proud of. Can you imagine why I had to do it over again?

The shocking message came after they had shown our product to their boss for the first time. Turns out she hated it.

She hadn’t been part of the process. No one had thought about that part somehow. The person sitting on the bag of money wasn’t informed while the project progressed. Sure, the boss had given the project managers full authority to manage the project after we had agreed on the budget. But when she saw the result, it wasn’t what she had imagined. It’s not that she thought it was bad – it just didn’t match her own image of what she was buying. Who can blame her, really?

A Great Process With One Cardinal Sin

We had all done our part, everything in writing, every step of the process. But we still had one unhappy paying client. What could we do? We delivered everything we had agreed upon and had successful sign-offs. Enthusiastic sign-offs even. But the project managers didn’t have the authority they thought they had, so it didn’t matter.

How could we please the boss? We had to make some changes and the client was willing to compensate us (a little) for the extra work. They understood after all that it was a mistake on their part not having gone through the proper channels.

But the changes didn’t improve the end result. They made it different, something other than it was. But they made the CEO feel as if she had played an instrumental part in making it. She mattered. Her opinions changed the outcome. And so when she got the new hybrid, lifeless and anemic product, a shadow of its former self, with more corporate music, more generic titles and less edge, she was happy.

“Do you want a new logo? How many people has to say “yes” to the new logo? If it’s “I don’t know” then don’t even start.”
Seth Godin

Define the Real Authority, Early

What did we set out to do? Make something magical for our portfolio and make our client happy. We failed at both. Not because we didn’t communicate clearly enough, nor because we didn’t get everything in writing. Not because we didn’t deliver something outstanding. We failed because we didn’t talk with the real decision-maker, and decision-makers want to make decisions. Many believe they can delegate tasks, but only to a certain point. When they see something that’s supposed to represent their company, something the public will witness and respond to — they won’t let it go without having had their say.

I had some of my greatest work turn into something less than mediocre as a result. A great portfolio piece that I’ll hide away instead. Next time, I’ll make sure I’m dealing with the real authority and not her minions.

Have you ever lived the same story? Do you have the antidote for these situations? Please leave a comment below or read about why stupid people are smarter than you.

I write about personal growth, psychology, leadership, relationships and soft skills at The Neural Grind.

Escalators Reveal Two Kinds of People

Escalators Reveal Two Kinds of PeopleEscalators reveal two kinds of people: those who walk and those who stand. Those who see it as a chance to do nothing, and those who see it as a means to reach their goal faster. Which one are you?

I never understood those who stand still. If you’re old, pregnant or otherwise disabled, you rest and relax. If you’re healthy and able, why do you just stand there, staring into nothingness letting time pass?

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I write about personal growth, psychology, leadership, relationships and soft skills at The Neural Grind.

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