Feeling Blue About Budgets?

Hi All

Given that it’s the start of a new year, in fact of a new decade, this week’s newsletter is focussed on the things that typically get in the way of making headway with those new year’s resolutions – budgets, mindfulness, and agency.

I go through an incredible amount of content every week. As a coach, it’s my job to stay on top of anything and everything that may help myself and my clients improve our lives and make a meaningful contribution to the world. However, I know that many of you don’t have that luxury, so this is a quick selection of the stuff that I’ve found useful. I include a little context for each piece so that even if you don’t have the time to dive into the fullness of the book or podcast, you at least have a sense of what it’s all about. From time to time, I also throw in an exercise, practice, or meditation that I’ve found to be useful.

No doubt you had a bunch of ideas over the holidays, new initiatives you wanted to try at work, new things you wanted to do in your own life. A few days back into ‘real life’, you’re confronting the ‘reality’ of budgets and suddenly your ideas no longer seem feasible and you’re teetering on the brink of ‘same old, same old’.

One of my favourite Tim Ferriss interviews is with Robert Rodriguez from way back in 2015. Rodriguez has directed Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn, The Faculty, The Spy Kids franchise, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Frank Miller’s Sin City and an array of other projects. I love the interview because it is packed with gems from how he journals, to how he thinks about what he is (not a role but a creative), to the importance of trust and inspiration for the teams he works with. However, it’s also incredibly inspiring because of his approach to money and, specifically, money constraints.

The film that launched his career, was El Mariachi, which won the coveted Audience Award at Sundance Film Festival and was the lowest budget movie ever released by a major studio – it cost a mere $7,000 to make – and so this interview has many inspiring moments about how to take forward the projects you’re dreaming of whilst juggling money constraints.

Rodriguez goes so far as to say that “I want all of them to not have enough money, not enough time so that we’re forced to be more creative. Because that’s going to give it some spark that you can’t manufacture. Sometimes art should be imperfect, in a way”.

When he made El Mariachi he says, “I just took stock in what I had. My friend Carlos, he’s got a ranch in Mexico. Okay, that’ll be where the bad guy is at. His cousin owns a bar. The bar is where is going to be the first, initial shootout; it’s where all the bad guys hang out. His other cousin owns a bus line. Okay, there will be an action scene with the bus at some point, just a big action seen in the middle of the movie with a bus. He’s got a pit bull; okay, he’s in the movie. His other friend had a turtle he found; okay, the turtle’s in the movie because people will think we had an animal wrangler and that will suddenly raise production value. I wrote everything around what we had so you never had to go search, and you never had to spend anything on the movie”.

So, if you’re feeling blue about budgets, listen to Ferriss and Rodriguez and then go back to the drawing board. You can do more than you may think you can. https://tim.blog/2015/08/23/the-wizard-of-hollywood-robert-rodriguez/

Over the holidays, I am sure that you noticed as the stress of the year subsided you were suddenly nicer to yourself, your family and those around you. You took time to smile at the cashier at the store, you were gracious enough to let someone move in front of you in traffic, you started to listen more deeply to the conversations around you and as you did all this, your creativity started to increase. The ‘holiday feeling’ allows you the space to think, the time to connect deeply with people and new experiences – all of that are the base ingredients of strategy and innovation, forget a fancy process, without the basics you’ve got nothing with which to create anything truly meaningful.

However, as the year starts and you start to get sucked back into the maelstrom, all the creative energy that came from being more mindful, more present in the moment starts to evaporate. Marc Lesser has led an astonishing life from being a director of the first Zen monastery in the western world to being one of the architects of Google’s famous emotional intelligence programme “Search Inside Yourself”. In this podcast he explores how mindfulness can transform business results. He speaks of cultivating your ability to listen, to be genuinely curious about the people around, about building a culture in which people truly know each other, and how in this context emotional intelligence, resilience, and trust are high, and therefore creativity, innovation and collaboration thrive. It is a great listen to start the year. A reminder that cultivating a mindful approach can help that holiday feeling extend through the year. https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/gaiam/untangle/e/59487541?autoplay=true

If the podcast inspires you, he also published a book last year, Seven Practices of a Mindful Leader: Lessons from Google and a Zen Kitchen. It’s an accessible read and has some useful simple exercises that you can use to build your own mindfulness (https://www.amazon.com/Seven-Practices-Mindful-Leader-Monastery/dp/1608685195).

Finally, social psychologist Timothy Wilson reminds that the most powerful way of ensuring that our plans come to fruition is to describe to ourselves what we DID to achieve that vision. So, whatever your new year resolutions where, be sure to describe in detail how you will make them happen and who you will ask to support you in keeping you honest. He also wrote a book (Redirect: Changing the Stories We Live By) a few years ago, that is packed with powerful examples of research-based interventions to create personal and social change. It’s worth checking out. https://www.amazon.com/Redirect-Changing-Stories-We-Live/dp/031605190X

Strategy, Soul and Self

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