Do You Have An Eggshell Skull?

Skull

 

In common law there is a well-known rule called the Eggshell Skull rule.

Say you are having an argument with your friend.  The argument starts to escalate and out of frustration you grab your mobile phone, throw it in your friends general direction and he gets hit on his head.

You didn’t know it, but your friend suffers from a rare bone condition called Osteogenesis Imperfecta, and therefore suffers from a skull fracture and dies.

The law says that it doesn’t matter that you didn’t intend to kill your friend, it doesn’t matter that you didn’t know about his condition.  You threw the phone, it was all your fault.

Physical injury, to which this law applies, is one thing but there are many other types of offence in real life.  And in real life, offence and defence can’t be as clearly divided as you might expect.

In a soccer game for example, when does merely playing defensively become playing offensively?  If the other team starts to behave more and more aggressively, then your team will have to play more defensively and at a certain point, you will become so defensive that you are actually playing offensively.

By putting your work out there into the world every day, by playing things with the right amount of caution, by surviving just another day…

by merely being defensive you are causing an impact.  

What does this mean for you as a writer, a blogger, an entrepreneur or freelancer?

It means you are not as weak as you might think. 

 

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What Ever Happened To Belle & The Beast?

Beauty and the Beast is probably my favourite Disney movie of all time. The story of how love and doing the right thing can overcome any adversary is a timeless story.

The end of the story where Belle and the now human-again Prince are dancing in front of their friends and family is the classic “happily ever after” ending we all love.

BeautyAndTheBeast

Happily Ever After…

The thing is that we are always aiming to try to get to our “happily ever after”. Personally, there have been times in my life where I’ve longed to “retire”, get “passive income” and move to a tropical island where I can lay around all day doing nothing.

But something hit me the other day.

No one I truly admire and respect is living “happily ever after”.

The people I admire the most, as Theodore Roosevelt put it, are “In The Arena”:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong
man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena...”

These are the people who are on the edge, in the spotlight, at the limits of their capabilities, truly striving to be something more than they think they can be, straddling the line ever so carefully between triumph and disaster.

Could it be that I was wrong to try to “live happily ever after”?

Perhaps the ultimate goal isn’t to laze around a beach somewhere sunny, but to shoulder the greatest burden I possibly can handle and to productively contribute to society as much as possible.

“It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:

It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
Ulysses by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Sometimes To Make A Difference You Just Need To Ask “Are You OK?”

A friend once told me a story about a flight she was on. She works as part of the cabin crew for an airline.

There was a guy she saw on the plane who was acting strange. Sweating, slightly pale, looking blankly into the seat in front of him.

It didn’t seem that he was paying attention to the safety announcements, he wasn’t wearing his seat-belt, he wasn’t saying anything at all when he was asked what he would like to eat.

“Is this guy on drugs?? Is he going to do something to put others in danger?”, she thought.

My friend decided to do something; she decided to speak to him.

“Are you ok?”, she asked.

The man responded:

“Sorry, my wife just passed away and I just can’t think straight…”

Yes, empathy and caring is important.

But what I found more interesting in this story is how interchangeable our emotions are.

We have the power to choose how we react to a situation.

I have come to learn that instead of getting irritated or angry by someone it is always more productive to be curious instead.

If you can just get curious and find out why someone is behaving the way they are you will have a happier, better life with more honest relationships.

Instead of having a negative reaction and letting things get out of hand, it is always better to lean into the discomfort and get to the bottom of things.

*Scaling Cambridge University

Why doesn’t Cambridge University scale and open up in different parts of the country?  Modern technology would allow all lectures to be uploaded to YouTube and the curriculum could also be uploaded for everyone to read in a pdf format.

When I was in medical school I had a sneaking suspicion that my University actually wasn’t doing much….  I spent most of my time at University reading textbooks.  Textbooks which anyone could buy off of Amazon.

I then sat an exam which culminated in all the professors wearing funny hats and handing me a piece of paper (some call it a diploma), which allowed me to practice medicine.

Here’s the thing.  Universities often claim that they do a lot for their students.  They claim that only they can impart the knowledge and wisdom needed to get good jobs.  They claim that by going to their University, you will be better off and smarter for it.

I smell BS.

  1. If Universities really do impart special knowledge which magically makes you smarter then surely Cambridge University should scale.  Why would you deprive the wider population the opportunity to get smarter?
  2. Universities say they don’t accept just anyone – you must have the right grades to get in.  But by saying this they are essentially admitting that they can’t make people smarter.

When I was in University, I was surrounded by smart people.  But, that wasn’t because of the University at all.

Let’s face it, the whole University system is an excuse to wear funny hats from time to time.

You Are Not A Red Zebra

red zebra

Isn’t it strange how zebra’s stand out so much?

Shouldn’t they have evolved to be a sort of brown colour?  Like the lion, so that they would blend in with their environment and not get eaten?

Interestingly enough when scientists were studying zebra’s, they found it awfully hard to keep track of which zebra was which, so they came up with a solution:

“Why don’t we paint a red spot on the zebra we want to track?!”

Every time the scientists did this, the zebra in question got eaten.

Why?

Because the Zebra with the red-painted spot stood out from the rest of the herd.  It turns out that the herd provide the camouflage for the individual.

But here’s the thing:

You are not a zebra, you don’t move in herds and you don’t need to worry about getting eaten

Can you think of a single person you admire that didn’t stand for something that set them apart from the crowd?

Whether it be Steve Jobs, Mahatma Gandhi or a soldier who fought for their country.  All these people stood for something and most likely would put their life on the line for what they believe in.

At some point it seems, we have to put our foot down, draw the line in the sand and say:

“This is what I believe is right.  This is what I believe in.  This is who I am and what I stand for.”

I don’t fear laying on my death-bed and feeling sad that I didn’t accomplish X,Y or Z.  I am afraid that I will be on my death-bed and look back at my life and realise that I didn’t stand up for what I truly believe in.  That is a life not lived.

Are You Stupid, Mature Or Brave?

The only thing between where you are now and where you want to be are a series of hurdles.

Few people overcome these hurdles to reach the goal. Few people push through to become the person they want to become.

Stupid people start something while full well knowing, from the very beginning, that they’re never going to push through to the end.

Mature people realise that there are too many hurdles and don’t even start.

Brave people, the very few, decide that they’re going to fight to the end and reach the goal.

When you started your project, your business, your university course, your fitness regime you signed up for a series of hurdles.

Being mature is fine.

Being brave is fine.

Being stupid is inexcusable.

Businesses Only Make Sense After The Fact

It’s always in the news: “Eating X, causes Y Disease!!”.

We all know that these types of statements do not prove what the cause is. Does red meat cause bowel cancer? Or is it that people who eat more red meat are also more likely to be sedentary, smoke and drink a lot more alcohol? Perhaps one of these other variables is actually what causes bowel cancer.

When people see these types of news articles, they generally are aware that “correlation doesn’t prove causation”.

So why are we so bad at detecting BS when it comes to so many other things?

Let’s look at the education system.

Does education cause economic prosperity for a country? Most people would say “Of course it does!”. However, it is interesting to note that countries get wealthy despite not being educated. Look at India, Bangladesh and China. Their economic growth has been incredibly high despite their lack of “education”.

In fact as they are getting more wealthy they are building more and more schools and Universities.

No!

Rich countries do have schools but, countries get rich first!

So what about businesses and entrepreneurship? The narrative is always there. “Solve a problem!”, “help a million people and make a million dollars!”, “be at the cutting edge of technology!”.

Well, I think this is all BS. It’s a narrative that’s created after the fact.

Tell me, what “problem” in the market place did Facebook and AirBnB solve?

If you ask the founders they will give you an answer: “We wanted to make the world more connected”, or “all of this space was being left unused and we figured out a way to use it”.

But, these are insights that are thought of after the fact. The founders of these companies weren’t trying to solve problems – they were being lead by their curiosity and a sense that what they were creating “should exist”.

I genuinely think that the best businesses / business ideas are things that the founder feel like “should exist”.

Many people say that the definition of an entrepreneur is “someone who solves problems”.

I think that the definition is more like; “someone who creates the change they want to see in the world via commerce”.