A new way of looking at things...

Other than this quote I’ve never read Henry Miller — although he is definitely an author that is on the list of must-reads.

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“One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things”

What excites me about this quote is not so much the fact that the quote is by Henry Miller but rather he’s touched one of my most favourite topics — the value that comes with looking at things differently, or as Mr. Miller calls it, a new way of looking at things. I probably should correct myself; it’s not just my most favourite topic, it has become a personal and professional mantra.

Up and above the personal joy that comes when someone brings up the topic, there is insight that the place you want to be is the result of looking at things in a new way — and more exciting still, this isn’t just a literal destination (like sitting on top of a warm volcano in Iceland) but also the endless number of figurative locations you may want for find yourself (like the solution of a problem, a happier sense of self, or a career opportunity).

It really is such a simple formula — adopting a new way of looking at things will take you where you want to be, and in doing so has taken you to where you should be. Thinking and looking at things in a new way will take you to a place that will ultimately take you anywhere; it is the destination that opens the door to everything.

At this point I feel obliged to share the story about the Bird and the Snake (which, believe it or not, will be relevant). I can’t really remember where I heard this story and it will take a little imagination —

One sunny day a snake was slithering along on his way to the annual snake convention; he was one of the key note speakers which is a big honour in the world of a snake. The travel was easy and he was making good time until he came to a very deep, and very wide, crevasse.

The snake’s mood became very dark because he just couldn’t figure out how he’d get across the divide and was most certainly going to miss the convention. High above a bird was circling watching the snake ponder the situation and smiled as the snake became more and more agitated. As if the snake could sense being watched he looked up and spotted the bird.

Hey bird?!

What do you want snake?! (as you know birds don’t like snakes so the response dripped with distain)

Can you come down here and carry me across this crevasse. I have to get somewhere.

Why would I do that? You will just bite me and I will die.

No I won’t. I really need get to the snake convention and I would take it as a personal favour. In fact, I will tell all the other snakes what you did for me and they will never bother you again.

How do I know you won’t bite me when we are crossing the crevasse?

Why would I do that? We would both fall to our deaths.

This made some sense to the bird and it would be nice not to have to worry about snakes — they were always trying to eat him. The bird flew down and with a little hesitation introduced himself. And good to his word the snake didn’t bite the bird. The bird picked up the snake and started to cross the crevasse. About half way across the bird looked at the snake and the snake looked at the bird, and then he bit the bird. In shock, and with poison coursing through its veins, the bird and snake plummeted to the ground.

But … why? You … will most certainly die.

I know. But I’m a snake and this is what snakes do.

When you are working on a new way of looking at things it is extremely important to know yourself, your habits, your preconceptions, and your methods for looking at something — and then fight them. It is hard to look at things a new way and it’s important to challenge your current thinking. You need to ensure you aren’t just doing what you’ve always done (or looking at something in the same old way). It is also important to surround yourself with people who will offer different ways of looking at things — when you ask how they see a situation you want differing perspectives that will help you expand your scope of understanding. This will take you where you want to go.

The snake probably should have listened to the bird because he was missed at the annual convention.

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Maybe I should...

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Lee and I have known each other forever, and although an exaggeration, we did start our careers together a very long time ago. I was in sales and he was my trusty Product Manager — we were a small group, misunderstood, laughed loudly, and most importantly, were very, very profitable. All in all, it was a great way to start a journey.

As with most starts, you ultimately find yourself moving forward and taking paths you never expected — mine had me wandering around North America and Lee found himself enjoying Europe. Our paths would cross once in a while and we would pick up where we had left off, and we always laughed. Social Media has made it easy stay connected and a quick note is always a click away.

One such note found its way to me the other day. It was a message that simply said,

“Graham!  saw your latest post. Sooner or later you are going to end up on a business video on the airplane entertainment system.  Best wishes...”

It made me smile and couldn’t help but imagine the celebrity that comes with closed circuit TV — it also had me saying, “Maybe I should”. Although there are a few hurdles that I’ll have to overcome, particularly the fundamental loathing that comes with having myself filmed or listening to my voice, none are show stoppers (something that will need to be addressed though). And when I weigh it against all the new skills I’ll develop, this really should be categorized as a no brainer.

To Lee’s point, it’s not that I don’t have a reasonable amount of content…

So here I am preparing for a little adventure that has nothing but upside because at the very least I will end up learning something new. There is some work to do for sure — I need to think of my formula, the production qualities I’ll use, what voice to use, the content needed (and a number of other things I don’t know enough to think of). What I can say is that there’s already a working title for my fledgling video series:

“Fasten your seatbelt”

It does feel right, and I’m certain it’ll position me well to enter the challenging and competitive world of airline entertainment. At the very least, I will ensure I do right by Lee.

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PS: If Derek, Marc, Doug, Natalie or Francois happen to be reading this, I hope all is well.

Advice for everything, and short enough for a T-shirt

I think there must be something buried deep in the human condition that craves some sort of simple proxy for things very complex and important. I know that physicists crave this because there is an ongoing search for the theory of everything — they’re looking for something so concise that it can be put on a T-shirt. How do I know this? I happened to read a book called the Universe on a T-shirt: The Quest for the Theory of Everything, by Dan Falk. I’lI say it’s a fun read, particularly if you’re not a physicist.

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I’ll admit I have no ideal why this came to mind but here we are, and I suppose here we go…

As I thought about this more and more I kept wondering if there was some simple advice that encompassed everything but doesn’t involve very much math (and to be used when someone comes up looking for answers). I mean, isn’t that what we’re all looking for, something that’s smart, snappy and easy to digest when you’re out with friends?

Sure, a smart snappy meme is a simple search away, but since the Internet is still very much the wild, wild west and nothing’s been agreed upon, I should at least get my voice out there. So here goes, this is what I’ve come up with — “Keep moving, just not backwards”. It’s profound, meaningful, simple, helpful, and definitely will fit on a T-shirt (although I will openly admit it’s not so clever or unique). I should also mention that this can be taken literally, although it mostly should be taken figuratively; for no other reason that I believe constant movement in a literal sense is a biological impossibility. Wait.. I’m wrong… sharks are constantly on the move or they will drown… but I digress (although I hope my point is well taken).

At this point I’m not even sure if I’m trying to be serious or just writing with my tongue-in-cheek. Nonetheless, there are some important messages behind my newly minted meme, and I believe they’re worth noting.

  • When you are moving, by definition there is action, and when there is action, something is getting done.

  • Although the movement may sometimes be slow, you are still progressing forward.

  • When you are moving you have momentum and that can take you far, particularly when you are a little tired.

  • Moving takes you to new places.

  • Not moving backwards ensures you are progressing.

  • You are definitely harder to catch when you are moving.

  • It’s healthier to move — it keeps you loose, agile, and strong.

  • If you aren’t moving you’re probably not doing anything

All of this is quite literally and figuratively speaking.

I really should consider having T-shirts made... maybe even sell them on the Internet… I’ll make a fortune.

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