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Strong Women and Systems Thinking

I feel like writing, so that’s what I’m gonna do. I have no idea what will come out. Let’s just see, shall we?

Firstly, Rebecca Tracey of uncageyourbusiness.com sent a fantastic email newslettery thing called ‘Fuck that Guy’. I don’t know what it is, but I’m attracted to strong women how can speak their minds in that way. That was what attracted me to Amanda Bond and her course back when I was spending money on social media marketing courses like I had a never-ending supply.

I considered spending money on Rebecca Tracey’s course too. I was on holiday at the time and got a really nice glimpse into how to crush it in terms of marketing and reel in the little fishies on the hook. I got this close to it, with all those emotional butterflies and thoughts flying around my head saying: ‘This is IT! This is the ONE! Buy this course and everything will be GOLDEN!’ Rebecca even sent me a couple of personal voice memos with some feedback on my social media marketing business as it was then.

So. Close!

I talked it over with my ever-loving wife in the car on the way to Dudley Zoo, and kind of came to the conclusion that social media marketing isn’t really my thing, and that’s the reason it’s not working — not because I’ve not done enough learning, but because I don’t really want to do it. It took that experience to bring that out of me, that experience and a talk with my wife. I should do that more instead of being so insular with my thoughts. Note to self: your wife is your best friend and ally and supports you even when she disagrees.

That would’ve cost me $2k, money which, I hasten to add, my wife has earned, not I.

Okay, so it seems that my writing is about my attraction to strong women then. Ha!

So what exactly IS my plan then?

More courses, naturally.

Systems Thinking with August Bradley

I’m enjoying August Bradley’s Systems Thinking course right now. In fact after only two weeks I think I can say already that it’s one of the best courses I’ve done. I’m struggling to get my head round the Notion system that he’s teaching, but it’s not really about that so much as it is about learning how to think in terms of systems and really work out what I want to do and then how to do that. It was the first part that was missing, which is why I’ve been kind of wandering around aimlessly or aiming at the wrong things since I sold the post office a year ago.

As I watched the live call on Tuesday with about five layers on and my hood up (yes, the house is BALTIC!) I started making notes about my values and what August calls ‘value goals’. Without starting there, I’m kind of in the weeds. Things like:

  1. Be the best guitar player I can be
  2. Satisfaction in life
  3. Mind improvement
  4. To be loved
  5. To have a comfortable, warm, uncluttered house
  6. To live more minimally (minimalistically?)

They’re pretty nebulous and unmeasurable, right? That’s the idea though; to start with some top level life goals and then work back to come up with goal outcomes that will move me towards those value goals. Value goals have to come from the heart, and that’s the key. If I just put something like ‘be an awesome social media manager’, it’s not really a heart-felt thing that will drive me, you see?

But if I take the first one: Be the best guitar player I can be, I can come up with some goal outcomes for that:

  1. Complete Mike Dawes’ video course
  2. Finish Fred Noad Solo Guitar Playing Book
  3. Finish Mary Flowers’ blues DVD

Then I can use habits or projects to work towards those goals. The goal outcomes will be set to one or two quarters, then the projects or habits will break down into weeks and months, so let’s say:

  1. Finish half of the Solo Guitar Playing book by the end of November
    • Chapter 3 by end of next week
      • Two exercises today
      • Two exercises tomorrow
    • Chapter 4 by end of following week

That kind of thing.

So how does Notion help with this? To be honest I’m still kind of in the weeds with that. I’ve tried to implement this kind of thing but so far unsuccessfully.

I’m still very much at the learning stage as the course is still at the beginning more or less, and I should spend the time until the end of the year working on my value goals and learning how to use Notion and create my own personal operating system.

Ali Abdaal’s YouTube Academy

This is the second of two courses I’ve enrolled for. As I consider my value goals and figure out just what it is that I want to do, rather than what I think I should do, this seems like it.

I’ve been enjoying Ali’s content for a couple of months now and his candour in giving away his revenue numbers is one of the things that pushed me over the edge with my (wife’s) money in my hand.

I’ve been on YouTube since before the Google days and I feel like if I’d had a systems way of thinking back then, I’d be one of the YouTube celebs by now. I don’t say that flippantly, I actually believe that. And if I can carry that belief forward to today, well, why the hell not! I’ll learn how to make videos with an eye on systems, both my own and YouTube’s and find a way of making them work together to earn me enough to pay the bills. That’s my goal: pay the bills. I don’t need a Tesla but I do need a way of spending my time in exchange for money that I can use to pay the bills. Simple.

https://academy.aliabdaal.com/

Right, I really better get on with my day. This turned out to be way longer than I was expecting!

By the way, it seems like this would make two or maybe three actual blog posts with value for people if I were to work on the content a little. Could there be room for that over at camscampbell.com? I really do like writing …

Building a Personal Operating System

I’ve been enjoying reading over the past few weeks, both for pleasure and for education – not that education and pleasure are mutually exclusive of course!

Having started August Bradley’s course on building a personal operating system with Notion last week, I chose a book from his recommended reading list and started it yesterday. It’s called Thinking in Systems: A Primer, by Donella H. Meadows and it’s very good.

I’ve tried many different personal operating systems to help me achieve my goals, but have never really understood how to plan for the weak points. I tend to have an ‘all or nothing’ character, so I’m either merrily ticking off my habit tracker every day or not ticking it off at all on any day. I’ve tried bullet journalling, OmniFocus, GTD, Things, Streaks. They all have the same problem – me!

What I like about August’s course is that its fundamental focus is on systems with flexible software that you don’t have to try and shoehorn into your personality. He’s just put up his Notion template, which I haven’t duplicated to my own Notion account yet or even really looked at. I’m a little hesitant to do it because it will have that ‘shoehorn’ feeling, but I’m pretty certain that the course will teach me not only how his system works, but how to change it to fit my own goals and aspirations.

I’ll be diving into his videos over the weekend, while keeping my all-or-nothing character in check so that I don’t get grumpy when my daughter needs to use my studio to record her audition pieces. To that end, part of setting up my own personal operating system will have to include a way of adding flexibility and the expectation of distractions. It’s probably more of a Mindset issue, the idea that what I call distractions are actually distractions, or if they’re just life encroaching into my unrealistic expectations of myself. So not over planning will be important, and also being able to focus for fixed periods of time and plan for that by not picking up my phone when it buzzes and by actually communicating with my family in a nice way that I’m unavailable for this chunk of time.

I’m really looking forward to this!

Mindset

Oh, and speaking of Mindset, I’ve also started another of August’s recommended reading books, Mindset, by Carol Dweck.

So far it’s okay, but not really telling me anything that I didn’t already know. Still, I’d never really had it explained to me before by someone else so I think it will be helpful in the long run.

It talks about the growth mindset vs the fixed mindset and I think my characters has elements of both, but probably tending towards more growth than fixed. I’m sure I’ll be able to use what I learn from this book to tweak my personal operating system and make allowances for potential points of failure.

Or will it end up being Yet Another Course that I’ve spent money on and changes nothing? Again, I refer you to Mindset! I think I’ve got this!

Writing is a Skill that Requires Practice.

Slept until 08:46. Result! Still feeling tired though. I made Illy coffee again because Len was still sleeping. She got up just as the last drips dropped into the mug. Ugh.

I read a nice quote from Scott Adams’ blog yesterday that kind of sums up what I’m trying to do here:

Writing is a skill that requires practice. So the first part of my system involves practicing on a regular basis. I didn’t know what I was practicing for, exactly, and that’s what makes it a system and not a goal. I was moving from a place with low odds (being an out-of-practice writer) to a place of good odds (a well-practiced writer with higher visibility).

Scott Adams

It was that that inspired me to make this a thing that I do and not just a thing that I think about. And besides, I LOVE this Ducky One 2 keyboard with cherry red switches!

Yesterday’s Goals

What were yesterday’s goals? Let me check…

  1. I didn’t decide on the Notion course yet. I’m letting it percolate. I did reread August Bradley’s sales page and it *almost* converted and still very well might.
  2. Profits reinvested into Finiko and Finalmente as well. I had four plans cash out in Finalmente yesterday!
  3. Adding more Last.fm posts seems like a thing to do maybe one at a time as it’s not moving the needle on anything.
  4. I did get all the guitar exercises done, and done well too, including recording one and playing the teacher part to the recording AND tabbing one out in Guitar Pro.

Small Wins

Installing Guitar Pro and tabbing out a tune. That was a bit of a hurdle that I’d been putting off for a long time. There’s a real learning curve to that software, but I managed to figure out enough to notate a whole exercise!

Content Consumed

I did the dog walk loop in the middle of the day and listened to an enjoyable episode of Roderick on the Line. John Roderick talked at length about a relationship and went into the emotion behind it. It really get a lot from John’s candour, but this one in particular was quite moving and inspirational.

I started reading Mindset, by Carol Dweck. This came up on Jim Kwik’s talk for Teachable’s Share What You Know Summit, but the reviews put me off buying it at that time. It came up again on August Bradley’s course page as a prerequisite for the course, so I thought I’d give it a go. So far I haven’t learned anything from it that I didn’t already know. One reviewer suggested not bothering with it but reading Scott Adams’ book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life, instead. That seems more in my wheelhouse.

Can I do the thing that Ali Abdaal recommended in a YouTube video and stop reading a book? Can I really do that?

But wait, let me give Carol Dweck’s book a proper chance. I’ll read more today.

Today’s Goals

  1. Post the Blue Compass mic clamp back for a refund
  2. Post a book away from someone who asked for it on Bookmooch
  3. Learn Malagueña from the Solo Guitar Playing book.
  4. Read Carol Dweck’s book.
  5. Walk the dogs around the circuit.
  6. Write to Teachable with my questions. They didn’t respond to my Tweets.

Doesn’t sound like a really full day, does it? I could do more guitar but I want to NOT over extend with my goals and end up not fulfilling them. And I can spend as much time as is left reading and making notes.

Thoughts like Flies – Systems Thinking

Morning Pages - Thoughts Like Flies

Tired. It’s 07:46 and I’ve been awake for an hour. This happened yesterday, except that I woke up at 05:45 and did manage to get back to sleep. This morning though? Nope. As soon as I awake, the thoughts that are buzzing round my head like flies see that sliver of consciousness and pounce.

Let me just say that Illy coffee though? Yuck. When I wake up early, I use my tin of Illy instead of grinding beans because the family is still asleep, so it’s really an emergency supply. It reminds me of my Luxembourg days, when Maria Cristina and Leo would argue out over Illy vs Lavazza like it was the Mac vs PC wars all over again. It’s a happy memory though. I loved working with them.

Once you start getting freshly roasted beans though, the prepackaged preground stuff becomes emergency only. Even Costa is nicer than that!

August Bradley’s New Course

So, what’s on my mind? It’s actually August Bradley’s new course. You’ll remember yesterday that I talked about Nat Eliason and Roam Research? You obviously do, oh avid reader of mine.

Well, I asked on Twitter if there was a similar Notion course, and I got a helpful reply pointing me to August Bradley’s Notion Playlist on his YouTube channel.

I watched the first few videos and honestly felt like what I was watching was potentially life-changing. And this wasn’t marketing copy, although obviously this is part of August’s master plan of giving away incredibly valuable content as a way of marketing for his paid course—I get that now and can also learn from how he did that.

August talked at length about systems before he even opened up Notion to show us his workflow. And that is where I’m failing. I’ve tried various different tactics over the last year and longer to come up with habits and productivity and none of them have worked. I understand that there is more of a psychological reason here that should be explored, but I feel like August’s holistic approach will help me to understand where my points of failure are and plan for that in my system. In fact it’s not just a feeling—he actually said as much in his early Notion videos.

Sounds like I’m talking myself into buying, doesn’t it?

I scrolled through his page to get to the price, expecting it to be $1197 at least, and yes, it will be that ($1250 actually), but today it’s mine for the low low price of $750!

Sorry, I didn’t mean to be facetious there; I’m sure that it’s actually really good value at that price point, but the fact is that I’m earning fuck all right now and have been earning that much since lockdown started, more or less. Affordability is the kicker.

But if I don’t solve this systems problem that I have, I’ll never make a successful living as a content creator, because I’ll keep doing what I’m doing and that is not working.

Gratitude

I should keep a gratitude list though, right? Of course I should.

  1. Lying in bed this morning before getting up. Instead of feeling frustrated at not being able to get back to sleep, I chose to be mindful of the feeling of warmth as I listened to the wind outside and felt a really nice peaceful feeling of having everything that I need.
  2. I felt gratitude that my wife was lying beside me, not only because she’s amazing in so many ways, but because she was actually in bed. She’s dealing with incredible workloads right now and doesn’t always make it to bed.
  3. A sense of achievement at having started this writing project on this website and at having tidied up some old posts, particularly my book reviews—adding Amazon affiliate links to the beginning of the posts—and my weekly Last.fm chart posts.
  4. Not having to get up to run the post office. That’s something I should be mindful of every day. That was a period of my life that I suppose I had to go through, but fuck me was it brutal! The leg injury period was easier. Twelve years I did that.

What did I Read Yesterday

  1. I finished The Elves of Cintra, by Terry Brooks.
  2. Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets, by Svetlana Alexievich. It’s really good.
  3. Four exercises from Solo Guitar Playing, by Frederick Noad, the book I’m planning to launch a course on.

Disclaimer: Some links are Amazon affiliate links.

Today’s Goals

  1. Decide on the Notion course purchase and own the decision.
  2. Buy the next Finiko product with profits earned over the last two weeks.
  3. Decide whether to add more Last.fm posts from my Hive blog.
  4. Complete Lesson 8 of Solo Guitar Playing by the end of the week, so six exercises and three compositions. Let’s make today’s goal the six exercises. Anything else is a bonus.