Your greatest hits

Your greatest hits

Recently, I heard the photographer Joe McNally talking on the Chase Jarvis podcast. Joe was describing an annual event that he attended regularly. He and the other participants were asked to bring 5 photos to introduce themselves. Joe decided that he would bring his 5 best shots from the previous year – rather than a lifetime portfolio.

(I intend to adapt (or steal) this is idea for my own photoblog. Essentially, I plan to do an end of year ‘highlights reel’.)

This concept bubbled to the top of my mind during a conversation this week. I was having a chat with a colleague who was feeling a bit flat. They were (in my words) in the doldrums. They were struggling to find any positives in their work. Everything seemed mundane or sub-standard. As I teased out a couple of the examples highlighted, it became clear that:

  • they were being unduly hard on themself;
  • there were elements of good work in the midst of their gloominess;
  • they were able to recall other, recent examples of great work.

As I reflected on our conversation later, I asked myself, “What are my ‘greatest hits’?” “When did I last do some great work?”

Then I realised that too often we focus our thoughts on what goes wrong, rather than what goes well. Yes, we learn from errors and experimentation, but we need to stay motivated and maintain a degree of confidence.

So, the next time you’re feeling a bit down, or when you’re talking to someone in that mindset, ask about your greatest hits and see where the conversation leads.


(extra)ordinary days

A man can stand anything except a succession of ordinary days.


It’s easy to look at our days, feel they are a bit humdrum, and place responsibility for this state of affairs with someone else – family commitments, unreasonable workload, etc, etc. And, yes, there are days when the ordinary is what needs to be faced.

But, if you’re experiencing a succession of such days, maybe it’s time to look in the mirror. Who is responsible, in your life, for the

  • interest?
  • fun?
  • adventure?
  • disruption?
  • challenge?
  • turbulence?
  • stretch?
  • curiosity?

If you’re feeling stuck, pick one of those topics and spend your day actively looking for it. Put some energy into it and you’ll reap the rewards. Or, be a victim, join our disgruntled and grunting teenager’s lament of ‘this is boring’ and live an ordinary life.

Slow and great

A short entry as we (in Scotland) go back to work at the start of a new year.

There is more to life than increasing its speed.

Mahatma Gandhi

Slow down a bit, consider your purpose, examine your intentions and make sure that the work that you are doing is great.

How about making this the year of slow and great, rather than fast and good?

… effective rather than merely efficient?

… focussed rather than flurried?

… making a difference rather than managing a quota?

(Adapt the concept to whatever environment you work in.)



I usually find the garden very uplifting and inspirational at this time of year – all the energy and promise of spring. But this year… it’s different. I haven’t been able to do any gardening for about six months because of a wee problem with my elbow.

Yesterday I found myself looking out of the window and almost not recognising the garden (the garden that we’ve been working on for 16 years). I had a sense of detachment. I wasn’t excited by it; couldn’t think what we were planning to do this year; had no sense of vision for it.

I was thinking about this in church today – and I realised that (in this case) the opposite of detached isn’t attached, but engaged. I haven’t fallen out of love with the garden – I just need to get acquainted with it (when my elbow has fully recovered). It’s been too long since I got my hands dirty or even just pottered about a bit.

So – as is my wont – I started a wee doodlegram (see below). It seems to me that if we start to drift away from something it’s fairly easy to re-engage with a wee bit of nurturing. But if we get to the stage of being detached, a more difficult and lengthy recovery process is needed. I’m not sure if there is a way back when we get beyond detachment to alienation.

There may also be other staging posts along the route from engaged to detached, but I was happy enough with the analogy as it stands (working on the ‘less is more’ basis OR I need to keep things simple enough for my brain to cope with).