Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Crane Kick

Image souce

One of the most exciting things ever to happen in my adult life occurred in the gym this week. During my Tabata class one of the sessions was dedicated to …. wait for it … The Crane Kick from The Karate Kid.

Finally! Here was my chance!! Never in my wildest dreams did I think this would happen to me as an adult. I’d all but forgotten it but my love for The Crane Kick has never left me. It has been woven into the very fibre of my being since I was a child. Make no mistake - when I was a kid I was The Crane Kick fucking master. For real! At the height of Karate Kid fever I discovered I could do The Crane Kick and from there on you couldn’t tell me I wasn’t great. 

I busted that move out at every opportunity. The Crane Kick to me was like singing is to Jamie Foxx – I was ready to unleash my talent on the world every time I had a captive audience whether they were even remotely interested or not!

Alas, as with many of youth’s immense pleasures (cartwheels, Coke spiders, sticking your fingers in your ears when someone is saying something you don’t want to know about) I stopped practicing The Crane Kick many decades ago.

Actually, I think I may have rolled out a revival performance in the kitchen late one Saturday night but my memories of this are hazy at best. 

So here, last Wednesday morning, was my chance at 41 years old to resurrect my old party trick. After a hiatus of many a decade, The Crane Kick wasn’t just a calling deep within me; it was a direct order from my TATABA instructor. Its execution was my mission for a dedicated 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest, repeat – alternating legs – for eight full on sets.

So, on her signal I unleashed hell. It was an all-out, continuous Crane Kick assault. Until I made two important revelations:

      1. While my right leg Crane Kick was still in top nick (all things considering), I’d never really refined my left leg technique. It took a lot more concentration and by the end it was looking less like a highly specialised martial arts weapon of death and more like an unco attempt at prancercise.

   2.   After the first 20 seconds, all-out continuous Crane Kick aint much fun.
The Lesson:
Look, practice may make perfect and all that bullshit, but too much practice is a pain in the arse. And the legs and the knees and you get the picture.

Upon reflection, I’ve also realised that there are a lot of fabulous things in life that aren’t much fun when you experience them unrelentingly repetitively. For instance:

  • Eating tuna on toast for lunch
  • Using the word ‘we’ to begin a paragraph
  • GIFs
  • The phrase 'Whoomp! (there It Is)’
  • The song Flashlight (soz, not soz - that song is like, never off the radio)
  • Lengthy web pages
  • The words synergy; benchmark; guru; leading edge; regroup; actualise; operationalise; anything ending in 'ise' or 'ize' 
  • Calling a journalist to ask if they got your press release
  • Facebook posts/blogs/tweets that self-promote
  • Puns (my son will disagree)
  • Rainy days
  • Croutons (I can give you the data on this one – too many will leave you feeling really nauseous)
  • Blatant sales pitches
  • Checking Instagram/Facebook/Twitter in the company of others
  • Photos/stories of your children
  • Requests for information via fax

  • Leadership spills
  • Doing things the same way as they ever were
  • The breastfeeding debate
  • Drinking shots
  • Excuses
  • The same friend running late
  • Giving (accidentally) bad advice
  • Fucking up their, there and they’re and you’re, your and yore (Seriously. How hard is it?)
  • Gratuitous email Reply All
  • Beards on young, gorgeous faces
  • Allowing a huge team to individually provide feedback on marketing initiatives
  • Bronnie B wears Prada

                  What about you? What have you had enough of already!?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Why thinking at your desk never works

Where do you do your best thinking?

Winston Churchill liked a walk around the garden with a weak whiskey.

Charles Darwin gave himself a lot of time to recharge the grey matter (figures). CD, too walked - to his greenhouse and around his sandwalk - either alone or with his dog. He also favoured resting while listening to his wife read aloud.

Mr Breakfast at Tiffany's himself, Truman Capote divulged, “I am a completely horizontal author. I can’t think unless I’m lying down, either in bed or stretched on a couch and with a cigarette and a coffee handy.”

Chaos is king in the world of queen singer-songwriter, Martha Wainwright, “Most of my songs are defined by a sense of loneliness, of isolation, that I probably get from spending a lot of time on my own. The little images that I get from sitting alone in my apartment – the way the light is falling through the window; the man I just saw walk by on the other side of the street – find their way into snatches of lyrics. I write in short spurts – for five, 10, 15 minutes – then I pace around the room, or go and get a snack.”

A key was key to the crazy arse concepts of Salvador Dali. He would power nap sitting in a chair with a metal key in his hand above a metal plate. The moment he would fall into sleep, the key would slip and clang onto the plate, waking him up from a brief moment away from consciousness. This is called hypnagogia and Dali would benefit from the transitional state between sleep and awake when ego boundaries are loosened and we are more receptive to a fluid association of ideas.

The South Park guys, Trey Parker and Matt Stone are true believers in the power of panic to inspire. They conduct the writing, animation, voice acting, sound and editing of each episode the week it is due to be aired. They believe the deadline panic is a significant part of their creative process – they can’t second guess themselves, resulting in more spontaneous brainstorming.

Don’t just sit there!

Big, audacious ideas never come to you at your desk. Neither does personal insight so profound you wonder how it wasn’t obvious to you before.

If you need to come up with something new, to create, or to appraise; don’t ever do it in one sitting. Sure, inspirational websites, your past work, background information and a red hot go at the foundation of what you want to do or say can be bashed out on the computer in a dedicated block of task and time. But once you’ve done that, step away from the keyboard.

Then what?

Go for a run or a walk, go to bed, pour a glass of wine, have a shower, think about something else (not all consequentially  … but ok if that works for you).

For me, the two most effective creation and clarity strategies are going for a run and going to bed. They both work in opposite ways. When I need mental resolve or reinvigoration and I run, every few minutes I make a concerted effort to think about the work or personal issue at hand and the rest of the time I enjoy the music on my headphones or focus on my running technique. During that time, something comes to me– sometimes it’s small, sometimes it’s insignificant but usually it’s an alternative way of thinking about the subject. And it's usually at least a litte bit valuable.

Conversely, the sleeping method means forgetting about the issue altogether. I don’t know why or how it works but so many professional and life challenges have been solved by me with crystal clear enlightenment simply by going to sleep and letting my subconscious figure out what has to be done and push it to the surface. You never know when this is going to work but when it actually does, it is undoubtedly one of life’s Awesome Little Moments.

And then there’s this.

This is my new go to.

My chiminea is my new obsession. At least once a week I go out there light and tend to a fire. No phone, no computer, no distractions (of course my family are around but they are usually intermittent presences – I’m in the fire for the long haul). …(Figuratively speaking). There’s just something about the minor, manual upkeep required to keep it going that keeps my brain a little bit engaged and the free form thought that just goes with the territory of staring at nuture’s TV to make it a nice Thinking Place

Shit's about to get creative

Science tells us that certain circumstances are more conducive to getting bright ideas than others: 

  • We think best when a lot of dopamine is released in our brains (during exercise, listening to music, enjoying warm water of a shower and other general feel-good scenarios)
  • When we are relaxed we’re more likely to turn our attention inwards and make insightful connections (hello third glass of wine in)
  • If we’re distracted, our subconscious gets a good crack at the problem

 The common thread here is they are times when we are physically or mentally active, but only mildly so. You need to be familiar or comfortable enough in your surroundings to keep you engaged, you are not bored and your stream of consciousness isn’t interrupted (much).
When ideas can flow unrestrained, the more likely you are to make useful connections between thoughts that you’ve never had before. Just make sure wherever you are when your Eureka moment is likely to strike, you’ve got a pen or a voice recording device handy.

You might also like to have a gander at this post:
Ted Take

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Expressions of Interest

This week I'm listening to:

Forces by Japanese Wallpaper

standout lyrics: 
'Cause I've been thinking bout it And I've been dreaming bout you Won't do a thing about this 'Cause I don't wanna ruin you 

Hallelujah by The Rubens

standout lyrics:
'Cause I'm a son of a gun
(It's not easy to pull that line off in this day 'n age).

... I'm reading ...

Rediscovering one of my long time loves: magazines. I'm finding particularly tasty morsels in Marie Claire and The Monthly. Also, InStyle to a degree; see, while I'm loving hard the gift Ginger/Smart tote, I am really not digging on the clumsy photoshopping of the limbs of already slim women into veritable toothpicks.

... I'm watching ....

Aca-massacring great songs

Pitch Perfect 2. Admittedly, while the off beat humour is enough to keep me on side, the singing really shits me at times. Also, why is so much of Rebel Wilson's career so mired in self deprecation and beating others to the punch line mean observations about her weight? I don't get it. Still, I took my children to see it and about halfway through (ie. the first minute) I began questioning the wisdom of taking a 7 and a 10 year old to see this slightly rudey M-rater. However, my son's grateful smirk every time a smutty piece of dialogue was spoken left me in no doubt of his take on the cinematic choice of the day.

... I'm thinking ....

Emojis in workplace communications: Just. No.

This revelation came to me while rereading an email with a smiley emoji in it that I had sent to a colleague, at least 15 years younger than me who I barely, actually do not, know.

And it struck me:
a) a bit desperate or beneath me or both
b) lazy
c) work email emojis are hereto forthwith now banished from my repertoire 

(That said, they're still on like Donkey Kong in personal texts ... if it didn't take me 20 minutes to find an appropriate little symbol to illustrate my SMS efforts I don't know what I'd do with all the extra time in my life). 

If you liked this, you might also cast your attention back to ancient history:
Things I Love Today (August 2009)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Video of the week: by Krafty Kuts

Diesel did well to get in on this

A-Z of Dance.. #NextLevelism
Posted by Krafty Kuts on Monday, April 14, 2014

If you like this, check out:
Eminem calls BS on no rhyme for orange