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Happy Endings!

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Everyone wants a fairytale-style happy ending, right? Everything turns out as planned, for the best, everyone’s happy, dreams are achieved. Movies are great at creating the perfect happy ending, against all odds, where it all just “comes together” in the closing scene.

In real life we too want happy endings, our dreams achieved, challenges overcome, happiness secured. However, real life is not the same as a movie; we have two big stumbling blocks:

How do you define happy?

When exactly is the ending?

Happiness tends to be far more complicated and elusive in real life than in a movie. Nothing is ever really perfect; there will always be some lingering issue or concern. The stuff the characters presumably have to deal after the credits roll and the movie theatre gets cleaned up ready for the next showing.

And what is an ending in our lives? The end of the week, the month, the holiday, the wedding, the big event…?

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Time: Capital or Income?

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“How are you spending your time?”

“Has it been a valuable use of your time?”

“Time is money, you know.”

We use economic terms to describe our use of time, so why not extend the economic terms to our definition of time, not just our usage? Do you consider time to be capital or income?

How you view your time can impact significantly how you spend it. If you view time as income, then it is in essence never ending. Yes, we all know that eventually our time “comes to an end”, but that point is hopefully far off in the distance. And we don’t want to morbidly spend our time considering our demise. But if you view time as income, it gets refreshed, every minute, every hour, every day, week and month. There’s always more time, in the same way that our income gets refreshed each month (hopefully!).

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The Hidden Cost Of Perfection

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Vegetables in a supermarket, so uniform and perfect, but how many tonnes of misshapen fruit and veg are dumped by farmers because supermarkets don’t want them? Because we won’t buy them. I don’t remember being asked, do you?

Or have we been asked without knowing? Have we shopped for vegetables and picked out the straighter carrots, the redder tomatoes, the rounder lettuce, leaving the rest for the supermarket to dump and take the cost?

Over the years the supermarkets buy what their consumers (that’s us) want to buy. We are clearly demanding perfection. So each year in the UK (and many other developed countries) masses of edible food are dumped, when less than a 10 hour flight away human beings are literally dying of starvation.

Fundamentally, regardless of economic theories, that is wrong.

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The Most Valuable Thing On The Planet

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What is the most valuable thing on the planet?

When we talk about value, we have a tendency to attach a monetary value; what is something worth in Dollars, Pounds, Euros, Yen? Most things, even your happiness, can be attached to an economic value. And, because we live in an economic world, it’s almost impossible to imagine a world without money.

So what is the most expensive thing money could buy? At the moment it’s probably the company Apple, with a market value of approximately half a trillion dollars. Just pause and consider that: five hundred billion dollars. It is an amount of money that is almost unimaginable.

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Do I Have Your Vote?

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The freedom to vote is a freedom I cherish. For me it’s not just about the freedom to vote, it represents a wider set of freedoms that accompany living in a democracy. You only have to switch on the news, or look at what is being shared on social media to recognise the value of democracy.

In the UK, and many other countries around the world, we have an amazing level of freedom, and it grows all the time. I am grateful every day for the freedoms I enjoy which allow me to live my life on my terms and pursue my goals and dreams.

Yet I have friends, some very close friends (you know who you are), who don’t exercise their right to vote. It’s not something they cherish. And I guess, when I think about it, the freedom to vote also includes the freedom not to vote; after all if it was compulsory to vote it would probably not feel like a democracy at all.

And my friends are not alone. Many people feel completely disengaged with politics, and feel that there is very little point in voting. What does it really change? Aren’t politicians ultimately all the same? Does it really make a difference?

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What Do You Really Care About?

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We are often told what we should care about. We are regularly force-fed an agenda of what is important to us and what isn’t. We are told that the economy is something we should all care about, and be fearful about, and be protective of.

Whilst the 2008 economic crisis was very serious, we also talked ourselves into it. In the six months before the recession hit, the news reported that we were heading for a recession; as a result people stopped spending, people stopped planning holidays and purchasing cars, on the basis that there was a recession coming.

When it did hit, it hit us very hard. And lo and behold, the news reported that it hit us harder than expected because people had stopped spending, stopped planning holidays and purchasing cars! The economy will often take precedence in the news above so many other stories.

We are told what we should care about, we are told what we should know, we are told when we should be scared and even when we should feel joy.

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Breaking News

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We are living in what is being termed the ‘connection economy’; never before in human history have connections been so important. Social media platforms such as Facebook are worth hundreds of billions of dollars and generate billions of dollars in profit from advertising. We are connected to our mobile devices and the value of our connectivity is immense.

These technologies have also transformed how we consume the news; Facebook, Twitter and more recently Snapchat have become huge news sources, allowing us to see news stories unfolding in real time from anywhere on the planet. Generally with no editorial, we can watch news events – sometimes horrific in nature – in real time, like some strange reality TV show.

Another storm has hit, another person stabbed, another child missing, another shooting.

Another bad thing has happened…

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The Hidden Cost Of Simplicity

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We used to think the earth was flat. We thought that the sun rotated around it. We used to believe that it was uneccessary for surgeons to wash their hands before they began operating – it was pointless, they were about to get covered in blood!

Our minds have progressed, our knowledge has expanded, our understanding has grown. And still the questions keep on coming; our minds are clearly built with a need to learn, to develop, to discover.

Yet as the world around us becomes more and more complex, we are also driving for simplicity, which is a good thing, especially as consumers. We want things to be simple, and straightforward, easy to interface and use. We want to pick up and use without the need of an instruction manual. We want service that is easy to access, simple to understand and that delivers it right.

There is a hidden cost to such simplicity. Human’s require a degree of complexity in their work for it to be engaging, and yet, as the world becomes increasingly complex we are finding new ways to outsource that complexity to tech solutions.

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We Are All Gamblers

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I’m sure some of you will disagree with the statement in this blog title. Many of you will maintain that you have never gambled in your life; and by gambling you mean putting down some money on a bet or the outcome of a game. Many people consider it morally wrong. Others consider it a silly way to throw away money.

Some people, only a few, manage to make a healthy living from it. Casinos certainly do well out of it.

But what is gambling? Most of us think of gambling as an activity which involves exchanging cash, placing a bet, putting money on a prediction of what will happen next.

And, in reality, we all do that a great deal of the time. We all have a sense of what will happen tomorrow, and based on these assumptions we build our lives. We build our sense of who we are, of where we are going on an assumption that we are pretty certain what will happen tomorrow, and next week and even next year.

This is not a bad thing; we buy houses, take loans, plan holidays. Like gamblers in a casino, we sometimes lose. Things go wrong that we didn’t expect, and sometimes these things can have far reaching consequences.

Like gamblers in a casino we are subject to ‘gamblers fallacy’. This is the notion that the odds change over time: if your number hasn’t come up in the last hour, maybe that means it’s ‘due’. It is the primary reason many people play the same lottery numbers each week; it’s the belief that over time the odds will mean that their selection of numbers is ‘due’, when in fact there is no increase in odds compared to playing completely random numbers every week.

In life, with our goals and dreams, it’s easy to fall into the trap that given enough time you are ‘due’ a win, a breakthrough. Surely you’re bound to achieve what you want, given enough time. And as more time passes, as those goals and dreams continue to grow, a sense of urgency develops that a bigger win is needed.

It’s like trying to lose weight in time for the holiday of a lifetime – when you’ve got 12 months to lose 40 pounds it’s perfectly achievable. As time passes it becomes less and less achievable, but the desire for that goal doesn’t dissipate. In many circumstances it increases, with the insane belief that 6 weeks before the holiday you can drop 40 pounds!

In just the same way that the gambler in the casino needs a bigger win the more time that passes.

One of the problems many of us face in our lives is falling into a trap of thinking that ‘time’ actually does something. When in fact time does nothing, other than relentlessly march on. The only thing that will move you forward is action – doing more.

The wins are small, and sometimes barely seem worth the effort, but the compound impact of the regular actions make the big difference. No one will notice if you’ve lost a pound in weight over 2 weeks, you won’t feel a difference in your clothes and may still be unhappy with what you see in the mirror, but the pounds over the course of 12 months will be noticed.

A gambler in a casino puts down cash that they will more than likely lose, with nothing they can do to influence the outcome of their bet. By contrast, you’re gambling with something worth far more than money – your goals and dreams, the very purpose of your existence. But the great thing is, you can do something to influence the outcome, through the actions you undertake every single day.

You have no choice on whether you place a bet, you’re already doing it, every day. But you do have a choice about whether you win or lose, through the actions you choose.


Image credit: Michal Parzuchowski | stocksnap.io

Mind Monopoly

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Nearly all businesses wish they had a monopoly in their field, to be the only provider. To not just lead the market, to be the market. It would provide a business with limitless profit potential, even if it didn’t generate advocacy from the customers it extracted profit from.

Because whilst businesses want to monopolise, customers generally hate it when they do. Customers want choice, and choice is good for price. Different providers in the same market create variations to meet individual needs, which generally drives prices down.

And businesses today have to fight harder than ever to catch the customer’s attention, to be heard above the competition, to engage them in “why choose us?”

So perhaps the goal now is to hold a monopoly of the consumer’s mind, rather than on the market. If you think about it, some businesses may have already achieved this with you…

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