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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 …

Letter from Bruce Springsteen

Up early again. I woke up at 4 and got up to pee, then got back to sleep till 6, but that was it. So I’m up! First cup of coffee is finished and I have the urge to write out my thoughts, so that’s what I’m gonna do.

It strikes me that some of my previous morning pages entries have ended up more like blog posts that brain dumps, and that’s kinda not the point of morning pages as I understand them.

I watched Bruce Springsteen’s Letter to You last night and it was fantastic. It helped me with a decision, which was whether to help a friend out or not. I decided that I would. Dónal asked if I would like to record with him for a support slot to go out on one of his friend’s music channels. He wants me to bring my video gear and record and edit the whole thing as well as play with him. It’s actually a LOT of work, and that’s why I balked at first. My thought processes went like this:

  1. Do I fuck want to play (my typical spectrumy response to pretty much any request for me to leave the house for anything at all).
  2. I kinda would like to play, but fuck me, that’s a lot of work for someone else’s channel.
  3. Actually, tearing down my gear out of my studio is far too tall an order.
  4. Is this a room for growth in any way? Is it a fixed mindset vs a growth mindset thing (based on this book that I’m reading just now).
  5. Is there any way I could do it without having to unplug my digital mixer?
  6. What’s in this for me?

So I walked the dogs and turned off the audiobook (Mindset) so I could think about it. By the time I got home, I was no closer to making a decision. It was dark and I was wet and cold. In fact, I was probably closer to saying no if I’m honest and I didn’t like how that made me feel.

I decided I would put on the new Springsteen studio concert movie Letter to You for some down time, wondering whether that would influence my decision. And d’you know what? It really did. And the decision I made was that yes, of course I would like to record.

It was partly thinking about the signal chain that tech that prevented my getting back to sleep at 6.

Systems Thinking Book

Am I continuing with the Systems Thinking book because of my all or nothing approach to life? Is the challenge I’m finding in understanding it a mindset thing? It’s very scientific and I’ve always said simply and emphatically that ‘my brain doesn’t do science’. That’s a fixed mindset right there. Languages? Yep. Music? Uh-huh. Science and maths? Nope.

If I look back on that, it’s almost certainly linked to my high school. Every single pupil in my O Grade chemistry class dropped it. We used to play cards. I got chucked of maths for bad behaviour and was permitted to take only arithmetic after that, which I failed.

Prestwick Academy was the worst.

And now I’m left with the fixed mindset that I don’t do science or maths. To be fair, I do find them difficult and I really have no desire to get better at them. But when I come upon a book like Thinking in Systems: A Primer and I know it’s a concept that I want to understand, I find my brain struggling to parse the diagrams and understand the jargon. I mean it’s fairly jargon free, but you can’t describe a thing without using the words that go with that thing really. As a linguist I can understand that.

So, do I continue? I’m half-way through and have understood some of it. That’s better than understanding none of it, right?

I write this knowing full well that I will continue because that’s my character. It’s almost like I want to be able to check the box and say that I’ve read it, even if it means skimming some of it and not really taking it in. Is there any point in doing that? That’s my question.

Playing Guitar

I played the Gretsch White Falcon a bit yesterday while watching the Springsteen movie. It was unplugged, so kind of silly, but it felt nice. I think that’s the first time I’ve picked up the guitar in over a week. I’ve been thinking about that as I read the Mindset book. It talks about how talent is overrated and that perseverance is a super power. If playing guitar REALLY is my passion, how come I’m not playing all the time? Yes, that old chestnut again. I got good because I played ALL THE TIME. What happened? I mean I’m not going out to work now and am home pretty much all the time, so how come I don’t play every day?

I don’t know.

I tell myself that the environment isn’t right. The house is so cluttered you wouldn’t believe it. I don’t have a comfortable place to read and the clutter really weighs me down. That’s why I love sitting out on the porch so much, but I won’t be doing that again until spring. And I like to have a relaxing space to play guitar and to read. But I do still read. I go and lie on my bed and try to block out the clutter and it kind of works. But I couldn’t really play guitar in the bedroom as there’s nowhere to sit. I tried using my daughter’s bedroom as she’s out at school on the mainland through the week, but her room is cluttered too and it’s not comfortable sitting on her bed.

I can’t really get rid of the clutter for reasons that I won’t go into here, so now I find myself wishing we had a bigger house, instead of being grateful for the fact that we have a house and that ain’t right.

Wait, that wasn’t really about playing guitar, was it? Hmmm.

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.