Phillip Smith

When in doubt, try something new.

I caught this tweet from a long-time colleague flying across my screen this morning:

It reminded me that, a ways back, I wrote stuff about my personal life that wasn’t just travel updates or work-related musings. I had this idea many years ago that I’d write more about personal beliefs when it comes to striking a balance between doing what you love, and loving what you do. I thought I would call it the “Tao of consulting,” because I believed that to be great at consulting, you needed to be even better at living.

Some time later, taking enormous inspiration from a range of characters that I’d met over the years, I decided to try out a new persona: The Slacker. The concept is quite simple really and not that novel: work smart, not hard. There’s a fair bit of writing out there that supports the idea that people who make time to reflect and who engage a variety of interests are more effective at creative problem solving – it’s well worth a Google search or two.

After more than fifteen years of actively exploring and thinking about the various ways of being an effective professional activist, consultant, collaborator, convener, and agitator, I’m always rejuvenated to return to the point where there’s something new to learn. And, thankfully, it’s still easy to find that place.

But… learning is hard for me. I’m a Taurus and I was born in the Year of the Ox. To say I’m stubborn or set in my ways would be a understatement of the most significant kind. I don’t like to try new things. I like routine. I like repeatable patterns. I like a steady pace and a known, well-trodden, path. I am pulled toward the things that I already know well.

However, just because you like something doesn’t mean that it’s good for you. (I’m stealing inspiration here from Clay Johnson’s excellent book The Information Diet)

So I’ve started thinking about some easy ways to ensure that I stay on my learning edge. We’re currently living in a world of learning opportunities, so – in general – this isn’t exactly difficult, but even in the pursuit of learning, my experience is that it’s possible to fall into the pattern of taking the easy, or known, path vs. trying something new. And, for me at least, it’s the stretch goals that result in the most significant outcomes.

In addition to not working weekends, I’m going to propose another “mission” for you to experiment with (as I am, currently): When in doubt, try something new.

It’s really that simple.

Let me know how it works for you. :)


Hi, I'm Phillip Smith, a veteran digital publishing consultant, online advocacy specialist, and strategic convener. If you enjoyed reading this, find me on Twitter and I'll keep you updated.


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