Being like gravity

Gravity is massively underrated.

We take it for granted, as we well should. It doesn’t give us any reason not to. We don’t encounter situations where it varies from our expectation.

Gravity’s consistency makes life easier because we build it into our model of life. We don’t have to worry “Will gravity be working today when I to head into town?”

It’s defined by its consistency. It’s always on.

When we do our work, when we live our lives, we can choose, to be more like gravity.

This doesn’t mean that we become unchanging robots – but that we understand the power of consistency. It’s knowing that the “always on” aspects of ourselves define us.

It’s our consistent action, traits and behaviours which make us who we are.

No one remembers occasional brilliance when it’s wrapped in the behaviour of a consistent arsehole.

Understanding that we’re defined by our most consistent qualities can be a powerful focussing force. Like gravity, it can help to keep our feet on the ground.

Anger: Great warning system, lousy fuel

Anger gets a bad rap these days.

We’re told that we can’t be angry, that it doesn’t have a place in a peaceful, productive life.

But anger is as much a part of the human experience as breathing, sleeping or salted popcorn and denying it misses the whole point of its utility. It’s only when we use anger for the wrong purpose that it becomes problematic.

It’s like a sharp kitchen knife – great for cutting vegetables, but unhelpful for other household chores, like bathing children.

Anger is an amazing warning system. It tells us when something we care about is under threat. When used in this way, it allows us to take faster action to protect what’s important to us.

And since it’s not just physical items or people which make us angry – we can also use anger as a tool to understand what we’re sensitive about. We see this when we become angry at something surprising – and we become aware how attached we’ve become to something, only when we experience the prospect of losing it.

Making full use of anger involves recognising and acknowledging it, but then letting it go before taking any action. And letting it go is the key step.

We quickly get into hot water when we act without first letting go of our anger, as it becomes the fuel for our action.

When anger compel us, it limits our options. Possibilities which are open when we’re calm are off the table when anger is the fuel we’re burning.

Anger makes us more likely to deal with a situation, but strips us of the tools we need to make it a success.

The trick, is to spot as soon as it arrives, and then let it go before we do or say anything we’ll regret later. When we let anger fuel our actions, we’re essentially stomping around the house, waving a sharp knife and wondering why things aren’t going so well.

Ideas are great, but executions are wonderful

1863 Alexandre Cabanel - The Birth of Venus

Within the mind, our ideas remain perfect. They have neat form, divine purpose and they fulfil their destiny flawlessly.

With such perfection as a starting point, it’s understandable why we hesitate birthing them into the world. Not only does it take effort, but the real world is messy, complicated and brutal. It is merciless towards newly realised ideas. At best it is indifferent, at worst it is openly hostile.

So why do we bother ever trying to bring our ideas into the world when they will almost never live up to our visions for them?

We do it because an idea realised, even poorly, is more valuable than one never realised at all.

When an idea is realised, it gives us a benchmark. It gives us learning, proof of concept, inspiration and a path which both we and others can follow.

Ideas are valuable compared to nothing, but are nothing compared to execution.

Ants and expectations


One of the most resounding and enduring features of life, is that it refuses to conform to our expectations.

We generate these feelings about how the world “should” be, and the world just looks at us and says, “that’s nice dear, but here’s how it actually is.”

The weird thing is, that we tend to look at this state of affairs and think there’s something wrong with the world. That we’re right to have the expectations and the world is wrong to conform.

But this thinking only survives on our scale, in our own head.

Imagine an ant which wants to get from A to B.

On its journey, it discovers that some pesky humans have built a house in the way, so the ant thinks “this house shouldn’t be here”.

Chances are, you’re thinking “deal with it ant, the house ain’t moving just because you don’t like it”.

The house wasn’t built as a personal affront to the ant.

It wasn’t built to block the ant’s way, or ruin the ant’s life – even if it’s done both. The house – and those who built it, are completely indifferent to the ant.

When we are upset that the world doesn’t conform to our expectations, we are ants complaining about houses.

This doesn’t mean we can’t change the world, just that there’s no value in fighting it with our expectations.

Calm in the storm


When a crisis hits and your body is flooded with adrenaline, the immediate impulse is for action.

“Something is not right, therefore something must be done” screams your brain, desperate to translate the panic it feels into action.

This can be helpful in situations which are measured in seconds or minutes.

But most crises are measured in hours or days.

Most crises require at least a degree of waiting.

They demand calm:

  • to properly understand the situation
  • to asses the relevant options
  • to weigh the risks
  • to plot the best way forward

All of these activities are nigh-on-impossible in a state of panicked action.

When a crisis hits, sometimes the best option is to take a moment to let the adrenaline go and allow calm to assert itself again.

For situations measured in hours or days, calm is gold dust and panic is a lead weight.