5 Wandering Wonders

My mind has been in overdrive. Whether driving, sitting, sleeping, concentrating, the mind wanders and I wonder. Here are five things that have occupied my mind this week. More questions than “answers”, so let me know what you think.

Detail – Check out the image above. Walking down the street, I saw this sign at my local cinema. Two spelling errors, proudly displayed. Why? I can deal with the 5 for an S but ASAIN5? Really? FHARENHEIT? Come again?

I wanted to ask, but at 9:00am on Saturday, the cinema was closed. Why would they misspell these words? The film posters, correct spelling and all, were prominently displayed inside the cinema’s lobby.

Now, I am not having a go at the local cinema. I am just curious. Did they notice? Why not? Did they care? Why not? Is it part of their marketing? Seriously, I don’t think I would have paid attention to this sign if the words had been spelled correctly. And if it is a marketing tactic, how is it working for them?

Lack of attention to detail is unfortunately pervasive. Yet it is so important. As Nabokov said, “caress the detail, the divine detail.” When we don’t, it opens up questions. If we missed the detail, what else did we miss? If we don’t “care” about the small things, what about the big things? Maybe I am overreaching here but if I think this, how many others  think the same? Get the detail right please.

Maps vs GPS – Whenever I moved to a new city, I remember having to buy a street directory. A particularly important purchase in cities with named and curved streets. I recall having to plan my routes the night before, start at the destination on page 93, flick back to page 87, then 78, 77, 76, 67, 58, 57 and arrive at departure point on page 43. I had no choice but to notice which way I was going, the names of some of the key streets I would drive on, the names of the suburbs I would pass through, maybe even some of the local attractions nearby.

We don’t need these anymore. Most cars have a GPS or we have maps on our phone. We input the address, pay attention to the voice (or arrow) and off we go. No real idea which way we are going, the names of key streets, which suburbs we are passing through, let alone the local attractions nearby.

Efficient? Arguably so. But here is my question. If we know the destination, is it necessary for us to know all that other stuff? In a way, this reminds me of our goals. Yes, you know where you are going, but at some stage, you need to work backwards to determine how you are going to get there. As Henry David Thoreau said “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” 

Tell it like it is – our eldest daughter was telling us she needed to get a new phone because her existing one “is ruined”. Mind you, the existing one is less than 2-years old, but five “oops, my phone dropped” and three screen replacements later, I am not surprised “it is ruined”. Please just say you messed up your phone. You are not kidding us. But with that choice of words, you are kidding yourself.

That afternoon, my son asked me to buy him a “snack”. “You just had lunch, what do you want?” Zappos. Hint, they are not a snack and you are not kidding me. But with that choice of words, you are kidding yourself.

Please, tell it like it is. Otherwise, you may be kidding the most important person of them all, you. As Teller from Penn and Teller fame said, “nothing fools you better than the lie you tell yourself.”

Optimism – An optimist is someone who is hopeful and confident about the future. And ideally, this drives us to plan and create a better future. However, in their book A Beautiful ConstraintAdam Morgan and Mark Barden suggest that one of the optimist’s biases could be that “I am optimistic about my future but pessimistic about our future.” The optimist feels more personally confident as opposed to collectively confident.

So for the optimist, the realisation that for us to get somewhere, to make a significant contribution and positive change in the world, we need to enrol others to our cause. How do we do this? How do we enrol others? How do we create the right context for positivity? How do we become collectively optimistic? What do I need to do and what do I need you to do?

I love the fact that I am an optimist, but it will take more than me to change the world.

Competition – Many argue that competition brings out the best in us, and although I am not an active competitor in most physical activities, when I do compete, there is a subtle change to how I perform – normally better. It does not mean I win, triumphs are few and far in between if at all. But there is a charge in that competitive environment that tends to bring the best out of us.

But think about this. Every second of our life is a competition.

“Wait, stop. It’s not and you are making me tired just saying that.”

It is true, every second of our life is a competition, whether you want to acknowledge or recognise this for what it is.

“I said stop! It is not!”

It is. James Altucher articulated it perfectly,

“your competition is not other people but the time you kill, the ill will you create, the knowledge you neglect to learn, the connections you fail to build, the health you sacrifice along the path, your inability to generate ideas, the people around you who don’t support and love your efforts, and whatever god you curse for your bad luck.” 

All you have to do now is get on with it and you will win!


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