This Blog Post Was Written At 2.45AM

When I was at University I found that I studied best in the middle of the night.  I used to keep reading until my vision went blurry as a result of the small muscles in my eyes getting fatigued and slowly giving up.

Prior to medical school, the only other thing I dedicated my soul to was playing the guitar.  It was my first love.  Even then I noticed that I used to make the most progress in my abilities late at night.

Tonight reminded me of my younger days.  I’ve been up tying up some loose ends, sending some invoices for my startup and updating our upcoming workflow.  I think I’ve realised why I and so many others prefer to stay up late to do work.

It’s because there are no interruptions.

No phone calls.

No e-mails.

No one knocking on my door to distract me from what I am trying to accomplish.

I’ve realised that my whole day is full of interruptions.  Even when I am in clinic seeing patients, there is always someone who calls me while I am with a patient, or there is someone waiting outside of my office door, someone waiting for a patient to leave so that they can pounce on me for another request of some sort…

I think to get important work done, you need alone time to let your mind wander and to allow it to make those connections that can only be made during deep work.

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Work At Its Best

I recently came across a poem by Kahlil Gibran, about what Work at its best actually is.  Here is an excerpt:

It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart,
even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection,
even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy,
even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.

This reinforces my belief that work at its best is about connection, engagement and commitment.

Middle C

I have always thought of the guitar as one of the most emotive instruments.  I suppose that’s why I gravitated to it at such a young age.

What really stuck me the other day was how many ways there are to play a single note.  A pianist would kill to have so many options and ways of hitting a single note.

It’s so strange that when we play this instrument we leave our DNA in each note.  My family and others who listen to my music would immediately be able to tell that it was my music they were listening to after just a couple of notes.

Yngwie, Guthrie, Tosin – I can tell I’m listening to them after just a few notes.

I have a theory:  The better the guitarist, the less notes they have to play before you know whose playing.

Defining Cleverness

I was trying to figure out how to define cleverness the other day.  I was coming up with all sorts of ideas and thoughts.

But, it was too difficult for me to define it in a succinct way so I asked my girlfriend how she would define cleverness.  She immediately said:

“It’s having knowledge and putting it to good use!”

I think she’s pretty clever….

Flattening The Bell Curve

2014-10-03-blogbellcurveThe Bell Curve

This is a bell curve and is what the world used to look like.  People used to watch the same movies and TV shows as one another, listen to the same songs on the radio as one another and even talk about the same topics as one another.

Then the Internet happened.

All of a sudden people are watching all sorts of stuff online and listening to music that no-one in their immediate vicinity has probably even heard of.  It turns out that we’re all freaks when it comes to our wants and needs.

In a lot of respects the Bell Curve has flattened as technology has allowed people to become exposed to so many different ideologies, art and knowledge.

What has also flattened is The Market.  All of a sudden entrepreneurs have access to all sorts of clients from all over the world who like what they’re doing.

It used to be that large companies would make a product or service aimed solely at the middle of the bell curve as a strategy to please everyone.  Now this strength has become their weakness.  Small startups are continually eating away at the fringes and coming after more and more of the large incumbents profit margins.

Nowadays, something for everyone is actually nothing for no one.

NHS Startup Part XV – “It’s Up To Us Now.”

We launched a new phase of our app for our patients and Primary Care services this week.  The build for this phase was huge and we have been steadily working on it for the previous four months (designing, building, testing, messing up ad nauseum).

I think we’ve really nailed what we intended to do.  As we collect more data, it should show that we’ve increased how efficient things are running at the practice, that more revenue is being made and that patients also prefer our new app to the existing means.

My main fear for this launch was actually the practice and the number of staff that work there.

As our app continues to expand and increase in its abilities it requires a concerted effort by everyone at the surgery for it to really work to its full potential.

I was initially worried about this.  Up to now, a small number of staff at the practice have been doing everything and they didn’t even need to do much to make the app as successful as it has been.  Now everyone in the practice has a small part to play to make it really grow and have a bigger impact.

Could they do it?  Would they do anything wrong?  What happens if they simply don’t want to?

These were the questions running through my head.  Although the launch itself went without a hitch, I was leaving the surgery still thinking that someone may mess something up.  That’s when someone from the team said:

“It’s up to us now”

At that point I just felt a massive sense of relief.  I truly do believe that the team are all bought in now.  I realised that giving people something to do with regards to my app isn’t bad.  It’s actually good, because now everyone is bought in and involved in the mission.

I guess being a leader is about leading from the front, aligning people and then creating change.  Maybe I was trying to create change from the back and by not leading all this time.

One thing’s for sure though – if someone does mess up.  I won’t be upset or angry.  I’ll be grateful they tried.

Decisions

The decisions you’ve made so far have gotten you to where you are.  

However, the decisions that you make now, going forward, don’t need to be and in a lot of cases should not be influenced by what you’ve done in the past.  

Every decision is an opportunity to stand still for a second, look at where you are currently and decide “Right now, what’s the best way forward?”.