More is not more

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  • More followers does not equal more value.
  • More activity does not equal more result.
  • More stuff does not equal more contentment.

It might, but it doesn’t necessarily. By walking the essentialist lifestyle I have discovered all the more (!) that more is not more.

In the words of the author Greg McKeeown, I’m on the disciplined pursuit of less. Indeed, I always have been, but it’s great to have words that explain it.

The way I have found I like to function as an essentialist is to gather, and then eliminate: I’m ok getting more, but I know it’s not more. I then cut down to the essence.

Ever heard of essentialism? I’m keen to know if you’ve experimented with it.

In with the Old, out with the New

How do you keep up with it all? I mean all the content, the blog posts, the ideas, the formulas, the “must-read” articles and “must-watch” videos.

My answer: I can’t.

But for a long time I tried. It was a stark revelation to me when I was a minister, doing what I felt was my duty before God, and I realised I simply couldn’t read all the books on any given subject, and thus I could never be sure I had considered every point and was teaching what was definitely, certainly, totally true on any scripture.

It’s the same in my work. I was trying to read about psychology, sociology and anthropology to fill in the gaps on my engagement theory, but I couldn’t do it. There’s just too much content to consider.

This was a particular struggle when I was trying to solve my own faith-wrestle with the existence, or at least the common expression, of God. So many people had written so much about it: how could I ever come to a conclusion?

I realised that, as I wrote in my journal in 2015:

I cannot have it all, know it all, or do it all.

The solution, I have since decided, is to focus on what is essential.

And I have come to believe that what is essential is that which has stood the test of time. The Old.

Accordingly:

  • I gave away around 2/3rds of my library.
  • I am buying no new books for 2017, and possibly beyond.
  • I am not entertaining any new ideas.
  • I’m still not watching TED Talks, or listening to sermons, or the like.

Instead, I’m embracing the old.

For instance, one example of the Old is Jesus saying love your neighbour. Do we really need more than that?

My Values

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On my journey to discover who I am, I have been thinking about my values. By codifying my values, I hope to have a list of criteria for things that I do, then if what I’m doing doesn’t reflect this list of values, it’s the wrong thing for me to be doing.

I took me a while to get the list together, but I finally was able to boil it down to 5, each beginning with a different vowel. The 5 initial letters gave me a challenge to really think this through and pick what are the quintessential values for me:

A – Authentic
E – Essentially
I – Integrity
O – Orderly
U – Unity

Authenticity is being true to myself, open with my life, being genuine. This would probably be the number one word that people use to describe me when they talk to me, something I hold as a great honour.

Essentially is about minimalism and essentialism. It’s an adverb, so it’s about how I do things.

Integrity is doing what’s right by others and by myself. Integrity is very important to me.

Orderly is about doing things in a systematic way. It doesn’t mean pushing order onto others or not being able to handle the messiness of life, rather it’s an adverb about how I naturally seem to do things in an orderly, systematic way, and as a leader bring order to chaos. This means that when I do something, I can turn it into a framework or maxim, which I love.

Unity is being one with the world, with nature, with others, and therefore not being judgmental. There’s a spiritual element to this, but also an aspiration to be someone who’s at peace with others, rather than in antagonism with those I find difficult.

What I like is that as vowels, these are my “vowels” – and every “word” that I write with me life will have will them in it. They are also my “vows” – the way that I commit to living.

The difficult journey of being yourself

Years ago I read that as a leader you will have your own values that you lead by. This was a revelation to me – I had assumed that as a leader who should get rid of your own personality (I was a self-effacing church leader, after all!)

Recently I have returned to business after a hiatus, and one of my struggles has been to create the offerings that people will buy from me.

The struggle has been twofold. First of all, it’s finding out what’s valuable to others that I have. But the second has been in the way I’ve tried to edit who I am in order to provide that value.

Then in a moment of frustration (and to be honest, depression) a month or so ago I realised that I was making a mistake. Why was I trying to change myself in order to be valuable to others? Or, was it that I need to become even more driven, more promotional, to make things work?

Then I read this tweet, from my friend Adam, that really set me free from this pressure:

What a beautiful line! “Be yourself. Eventually we all are.”

Isn’t that just the truth? How often do we try to edit ourselves for something to end up only reverting back to ourselves in the end anyway. Thus, I realised that I would save a lot of time if I could create business offerings that were as close to the authentic me as possible.

I’m still on that process of working that out. (Hey, clarity is hard work!)

But, I have made progress by codifying my values – the essence of who I am. More on that another day.

 

Focussing In

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Some say that you should make your goals public, others say you shouldn’t. I probably sit on the keep-it-to-yourself end of the spectrum.

But one goal that I will make public is my desire to focus.

I was thinking today how what is one person’s inspiring is another’s distracting. I have to be careful about how much inspiration I let in: TED Talks, upbeat ‘you can do it’ LinkedIn posts, people going crazy over Gary Vaynerchuk or Michael Hyatt, or talking about personal branding.

Hey, I love that stuff. But for me, what is another’s inspiring, is my distracting. If I’m not careful, one little bit of content, and I’m off tangent and off focus.

Thus, this year’s goal is to add nothing more to my three goals (one for each of my three current projects). My goal is to focus.

Wish me luck!

5 Years Later

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No, this isn’t like 28 Weeks Later.

It’s been 5 years since April 2011, the month that I stopped blogging after doing it for 2 years, and also the same time that I was already drifting away from social media, and from the wonderful relationships that I had built with about 50 people through this blog.

What has happened in the last 5 years? In chronological order:

  • I had my first daughter, Summer, in April 2011.
  • My friend Trey Pennington sadly passed away on September 4th 2011. It was a tragedy.
  • The end of 2011 I decided I wanted to I move on from Like Minds, the conference that I co-founded, so that I could:
  • Fulfil my dream since I was 16, and start leading my own church, in Plymouth in March 2012.
  • My second daughter, Phoenix, was born in May 2013.
  • At the same time as Phoenix was born, I also had to remove my senior minister (who had been a mentor for 16 years) from his position due to serious moral issues. That was a biggie.
  • Phoenix had open heart surgery at 5 months old in October 2013. She had a condition called Tetralogy of Fallot.
  • In 2014 I had the best year of being a pastor since I had been a lay or full-time minister. The church in Plymouth really flourished. We grew to 150 people from the 30 that there were when I took it over.
  • At the beginning of 2015 I took a break from church leadership owing to depression from the fallout of my previous senior minister. As I began to read about spiritual abuse, I realised that he was a sociopath and had been pretty horrendous to me for the 16 years that he mentored me.
  • This led to me questioning my faith, which led it to it changing, which led to:
  • In May 2015 I left my pastoral role as I couldn’t continue it with integrity and started looking for work.
  • Thus I applied for 45 job applications with not a single interview!
  • September 2015 I started consulting again. I was nervous if I had anything to offer, but slowly rebuilt that as I got in touch with my old blog network.
  • In Feb 2016 had the wonderful news that Faye, my wife, is pregnant again :-)
  • March 2016 I put The Engaging Method online, and also started Ampersand Club.
  • April 2016 I resurrected this old blog as a reminder of the lovely community I found here.

Ok, so perhaps it was a little like 28 weeks later… it has been quite a journey. But, I am all the better for it.

Where to begin (again)

So, after pretty much 5 years of not writing on this blog (actually, I deleted it), I have painstakingly resurrected it and am now ready to begin, again.

But where to begin?

Here. This moment. My fingers on the keyboard, putting something out there.

It’s good to be back (again).

I’m Nobody.

It’s true. It’s not just another mantra. It’s not just a controversial, attention grabbing line.

The idea for Like Minds wasn’t really mine, it was Trey’s. The business model for Like Minds wasn’t really mine, it was Drew’s. The contacts, colleagues and friends that came – the majority of those 200 weren’t mine, they were yours. All the ideas, inspiration and information, certainly wasn’t mine – they came from Trey, Daren, Olivier and Maz.

The 500+ unique people that watched (average 70 concurrent) online, weren’t there because I announced it. The Twitterfall that brought fun, insight, and controversy wasn’t my making – it was, in particular, Nick Tadd and Vanessa Warwick who twitterscribed the whole thing. It certainly wasn’t me who wore a kilt – it was James. Neither was I part of this famous photo – that’s Maz and Daren’s thing. And as for whoever got Stephen Fry‘s attention to say hello – I can guarantee – it wasn’t me. In fact, even that photo above, wasn’t taken by me – obviously – but by Britt Warg.

Nor was the legendary ‘Social Media Guru‘ video made by me (despite my slip of the tongue), but by Markham Nolan. Nor was the facility run by me, but  by the wonderful people at Exeter Conference Centre. Nor did I fund the event, but it was with the help of our sponsors that we could do what we did.

Now, as the dust settles, and people call Like Minds a ‘movement’, ‘awesome’ and also an event that ‘under delivered’, it’s not me writing the blog posts, fuelling the discussion, and debating the issue of social media ROI, etc – it’s everyone listed here.

What, then, did I do?

I just brought passionate people together.

And I’m honoured that I could.

Confessions, Part 1

Last night Ruairi Fullam linked me to this post from ProBlogger, from May. As I read down the page, I got convicted by the following words from Chris Guillebeau:

The time to start presenting your big ideas is when you can no longer keep them to yourself in good conscience.

When you reach that same point, and when you’re willing to sacrifice for it, nothing can stop you. Some of the best advice I heard came from John Wesley at PicktheBrain.com. John told me that the turning point for his site was when it went from being about what he wanted to what the readers wanted.

I’ll be honest and open – I think I’m doing the first part – presenting big ideas. Perhaps the ideas are a little too conceptual… But anyway… What I am sure of, is that I’m not doing the second. Continue…