Friday Favourites – 20th July 2018

So this week has been a little crazy, I’m moving house at the weekend and will be in London again! It is all very exciting and I am looking forward to being closer to all the hustle and bustle of the city (even if I am in somewhat leafy suburbs…) Here is a round-up of my favourite self-development inspiration this week:

Favourite Podcast

Why We Sleep with Matthew Walker – Feel Better, Live More by Dr Chatterjee

I have been a fan of Dr Chatterjee’s work since my Dad came to me with his book ‘The Four Pillar Plan’ about 6 months ago, along with a glowing recommendation for its revolutionary impact on my family’s life and wellbeing (and just this week it went on sale for prime day so I bought my very own copy! Yey!) It is packed full of practical tips supported by well-researched, solid scientific evidence along each of the four pillars of health: Move, Eat, Relax Sleep.

This podcast addresses the fourth pillar, Sleep. Matthew Walker shares some astounding facts about the importance of sleep and presents a solid argument that sleep is the foundational pillar of health upon which diet and exercise can be built. The wealth of information crammed into this two-part podcast makes it worth listening to in full, but here are three insights which I found fascinating:

  • Sleep impacts mental health: short sleep duration is usually predictive of either suicidal thoughts, suicidal attempts and sadly, suicidal completion
  • A lack of sleep costs most nations about 2% GDP, which in the UK equates to £30 billion lost economic value ($411 billion in the USA!)
  • Caffeine takes longer than you think to leave your system: if you have a cup of coffee at noon, a quarter of that caffeine is still circulating around your brain at midnight. That is the equivalent of getting into bed and drinking a quarter of a cup of coffee right before you turn the light out!

Favourite watch

Ted Talk: The Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen by Hans Rosling

This Ted Talk was recommended to me when I was looking at big data as part of a module on marketing metrics for a professional qualification I am in the process of completing. This talk was given not too long ago, in 2006, and it is clear that data visualisation software has since come on leaps and bounds! (Most likely due to Rosling’s work, I dare to suggest!) Hans Rosling is one of the most compelling and entertaining speakers I have watched, and his work has been instrumental not only in improving research practices but on educating the public on the true state of the world. I am part-way through his book Factfulness, in which he demonstrates that our knowledge and view of the world across the board is generally outdated as the media and teaching in schools and universities has failed to catch up with the realities of the modern world – actually, we are less likely than chimpanzees to answer questions about the state of the world correctly! Overall, we can be a lot more optimistic about the future of humanity than you may think. For example, did you know that:

  • In low-income countries across the world today, around 60% of girls finish primary school?
  • The majority of the world’s population lives in middle-income countries?
  • In the last 20 years, the proportion of the population living in extreme poverty has almost halved?

Currently pondering: Should you follow your passion or your strengths?

Stanford University has recently published new research that suggests that following your passion is likely to make you less successful! (Side note: one of the researchers is Carol Dweck, author of the fantastic book Mindset: Changing the Way You Think to Fulfil Your Potential) The premise of this research is that by having the preconception that following a passion is an easier route, you are less likely to put in the work required to become a success. It also can make you less likely to pursue new avenues of interest. When I stumbled across this article, I reflected on what I had heard Elizabeth Gilbert say in an interview – this short clip explains:


“The world is divided into two kinds of people: there are the jackhammers and there are the hummingbirds. Jackhammers are people like me, you put a passion in our hands and we’re like [hammer drill action] and we don’t look up… we’re focused on that until the end of time…. Hummingbirds move from tree to tree, from flower to flower, from field to field, trying this, trying that. And two things happen: they create incredibly rich and complex lives for themselves and they also end up cross-pollinating the world”

She goes on to say that if you are a hummingbird, keep doing what you are doing because one day you will look up and realise you are exactly where you are supposed to be. This truly resonated with me: I always felt there is a passion waiting for me, which aligns perfectly with my strengths and what I enjoy, so if I could just find it and make a success out of it then I will be happy. Yet as I move into my late twenties, after about half a decade of struggling with that question, I’m starting to think that perhaps I need both: I need to do what I want, and do what I need to do, and my life will gradually shift into better alignment as I am in tune with myself.

On the other hand, I think it is hard to refute that you are more likely to enjoy something that you are good at, and that understanding your strengths can help you find ways to better serve others and enjoy your work. You are therefore more likely to develop a passion as a consequence of doing what you are good at first. But with the rare exception of some creative ‘jackhammers’, most of us have a limit to the time and energy we can put into a passion project before we lose motivation: so, we also need to cultivate habits and behaviours which facilitate hard work. This is reflected in Lewis Howes’ Podcast Episode 635: To be the best you have to learn from the best, where Brendon Burchard says:

And the problem about the Strengthsfinder and all of the strengths based movement is, and they were all written academically this way, based on what are called innate strengths. And innate strength is the assumption that you had that from birth. And that those innate strengths are what you focus on.

And I’m like, “Well, if you had it at birth, then you probably had it at fifteen years old, too. So if it’s innate, you had it at fifteen, are the strengths you had at fifteen sufficient to serve you at fifty?” Hell, no! You have to develop beyond what’s innate and go to a whole other level.


Favourite Social media find

I am fascinated by Adam Grant – his books, podcasts and vast content output is an endless source of inspiration. I’ll leave you with the idea that in business, for all its war-like rhetoric of “competitors” and “strategy”, there is an alternative view to simply win/lose:

Adam Grant: If you define success in terms of winning and losing, you’ve already lost. The higher you climb, the more your success depends on making others successful. The most rewarding way to live is to find as much joy in others’ success as you do in your own.


See Adam’s original post here:

Have a wonderful weekend!