I watched a mini documentary on Netflix yesterday and it was all about concentration and focus, and it taught me a few things about how I see the world.
The basic message that the programme was trying to get across was that humans are generally pretty bad at multi-tasking; we can only really focus on one thing at a time. I always thought that I was good at doing more than one thing at a time, and I realised that actually, this was not true.
For example, I always write while watching TV and I thought that I could do that quite successfully. However, I now see that when I’m focusing on one thing, I absolutely cannot take in what is going on on the screen.
But, worse than that was the realisation that I must miss so much in life because of this. I’m focusing on one thing and missing out on possibly something better. On the show they asked you to focus on something and while you do you completely miss the fact that a gorilla walks into shot.
If I can miss a gorilla tiptoeing across the screen, what wonderful things might I accidentally be missing out on?
I don’t know how we get around this because we are wired this way, but I do know that I should stop going out of my way to zoom in on the negative crap. I guess it’s true that you really can shape your life, just by concentrating on the good stuff.
That’s something to think about whenever I’m moaning about the bad kids in my class next week. Instead, I’ll look very carefully at the remaining twenty kids who are concentrating and enjoying my lesson.
So I got up a bit late today and I sleepily logged into my emails with ten minutes to go before our tutor time was about to start. And there in my inbox was an email asking if I wanted to open the class as I was due to take it.
I thought that I was just sitting in and watching so, of course, I had nothing prepared. I felt my stomach drop as I wondered what the hell I was going to do. I even started typing out an email to say, no way was I going to take it because I had no idea I was supposed to. I also considered feigning illness and just not pitching up.
But then I did something different to my normal line of action. I decided to just have a go.
I quickly went into the file where all of the tutor activities are kept and pulled something out at random, opened the meeting and then just winged it.
And I think I got away with it.
Normally, I’d be curled up in a ball crying and this time I actually performed. It was far from perfect but the kids got some interaction and I didn’t look like a complete idiot.
So there you have it. Once again, I have proved myself wrong. I’m not useless and I can perform when the pressure is on. I won’t be making a habit of not preparing, but I know I have that skill if I should ever need it.
I did my first tutor time session with my new Year 7 group today. For anyone not in the UK, tutor time is when students are registered and it gives them the opportunity to talk to a teacher about any problems and do an activity that normally has something to do with what is going on in the world. It only lasts about twenty minutes but it’s every day and it gives you a chance to build a solid relationship with that group of students.
Year 7 students are all eleven and twelve year olds and they are in their first year at secondary school, so they’re still pretty young. However, I think that with the internet and constant streaming of news and media, they are all clued up on a lot of the things that are going on in the world.
Today, I decided to play them this poem and then let them talk about themselves and it was so nice to enjoy a little slice of positivity in my morning. I began the session by playing the poem and then sharing that good things can come out of these awful situations. I told them that as a result of lockdown I’d decided to get a cat and it’s the most wonderful thing ever.
They shared back to me for almost quarter of an hour and I was blown away by how much good we can see in any situation if we put our minds to it. I heard about great staycations that they’d had; camping trips and canal boat holidays. I also heard about family time and new pets. Once I’d got them started it was almost impossible to stop them.
I just thought I’d share this because I know that I sometimes start to dwell on the bad, but those twenty minutes with the kids this morning, they buoyed me up for the rest of the day. If a bunch of pre-teens can do it then I’m sure us ‘groan ups’ can do it too.
The clocks are going back this weekend and for most of us that means that the summer is well and truly over. There will be no more sitting in the garden at ten at night, and there will be no more going for walks in T-shirt and shorts.
But there are some of us who love this time of year more. I do like all those things that summer brings, but who can hate the rain beating against the window as you sit curled up with a good book? And who can hate the spiced pumpkin lattes? Or the new winter coats? Or Christmas being just around the corner?
There have been so many bad things that have happened this year, and so I think that we owe it to ourselves to embrace everything that comes our way. There is a little bit of positive in everything, so lets not just trounce on something just because it’s cold and dark.
I know that the clocks going back is normally such a negative thing in our lives, but try to think of it positively for this one. Even if it’s just because you’ll get an extra hour in bed tomorrow!
It was Oprah who once said that nervousness is actually a selfish emotion. When I first heard this I thought she was having a laugh. As someone who has been diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder I get nervous about lots of situations and I thought it was a bit rich of her to say that made me selfish. But when I read her reasoning behind this statement it made me start to at least try and change my mind set when tackling new and scary things.
When Oprah made this statement she wasn’t trying to say that us anxious types were horrible people; what she was saying was that a safe amount of anxiety is no reason to deny the world of your idea. Saying that you’re too scared and then not carrying through with it because of that fear could stop something really great from being released into the world. And who are you to say that nobody can experience that thing you dreamt up? What would have happened if Fleming had decided he was too scared to tell the world that he had discovered penicillin in case something went wrong and everyone laughed at him? Or if Mandela hadn’t fought for the end of apartheid because he knew that he was going to get resistance? The world could have been a very different place, and don’t go thinking that your small idea couldn’t make the biggest of waves.
If you’ve read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert then you may be familiar with the idea that any inspiration that comes flying into your head is a gift and it should be treated as such. If somebody gave you a gift of a million pounds and told you to spread it between your favourite charities you wouldn’t then put it in your bank and keep it to yourself. Surely this should be the same with gifts that are given to us from God? Use them and help to make the people around you happy.
So yeah, I totally get what Oprah meant when she said that it’s a selfish emotion. She meant that we need to push through our own feelings so that we can make the world a better place. If you’re struggling to get past this first step towards success because you’re feeling frightened then keep these things in mind:
Number One- Most people will be secretly impressed that you’re trying.
Because, news flash! Everyone else is scared too! If people are standing in the wings waiting for you to fail then it’s because it backs up their own theory that they shouldn’t try. If the people around you are real friends then they will support you no matter what you try and it won’t matter whether you succeed or fail.
Number Two – What’s the worst that could happen?
Even if things do go really badly you can still turn it around again. Most of the super successful people in the world have had some pretty serious setbacks. Some very famous billionaires have filed for bankruptcy several times. Hopefully you won’t be at the point where you are doing that, but this is proof that it can still not necessarily mean game over.
If you’re scared of people’s opinions then the worst that could happen is that those people fall out of your life. And would you really want those people in your life?
On the other hand, there’s always the possibility that things could go well, and then what? That business could take off or the book could get published and then you’ll be left wondering what you were ever wondering about in the first place.
Number Three – Try to see these risks like a book of puzzles
If I buy a book of Sudoku puzzles, I normally expect that I can get one or two wrong. But there are normally a hundred or so other puzzles in the book that I can have a go at. There are an infinite number of challenges out there in the world and I can have a go at them even if I’ve already failed at something else.
Keeping with the same analogy, there is nothing stopping me doing a puzzle in pencil so that I can rub it out and have a go at the same one a second time. I had this experience when I first started ultra running. I had a go at a 100 mile race and got to 54 miles before I bombed out. I could have said ‘screw that, I’m not doing that again!’ But I didn’t. I dusted myself off and started training again and it took me another three years, but eventually I did it.
So when you’re scared of taking that first step remember what you could be depriving the world of and keep in mind that even if you do fail miserably, failure is the way that you refine your skills, learn and become the very best you can be at something. So take a deep breath and have a go!
I’m in the middle of working a couple of nights again so it’s really difficult to sit down and write something serious and heartfelt. It’s hard to do that anyway so I thought I’d do what I do best and not even try to be deep.
I really enjoyed writing some poetry for this blog yesterday and everyone loves a little doodle to go along with it. So of course I thought I’d do it again because I need something easy to do when I’m feeling as flipping knackered as I am right now.
Here’s my poem that I am calling ‘always get back on the horse’. It’s an epic piece of literature that I think could possibly win me a few awards and I hope that you all feel as positive about it as I do.
There will always be times when things go wrong,
And goals are taking far too long.
You may feel like staying down,
When others round you start to drown.
But I want you to fiercely growl,
When you really want to chuck in the towel.
Rise and roar like the tiger that you are,
Light up the sky like a freaking shooting star.
But when you make it to the very top,
And all you do, has that crazy jazzy pop.
Remember to be really kind,
Because if you’re not, you may find.
That you will quickly tumble back,
To the place that’s really black.
So get back on your mother trucking horse,
And make sure you run that bloody course!
Have an amazing day, much love
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