One of the first topics I wanted to address in this newsletter, was the idea of negative influence.
I started writing this post last week, just having got back from the hospital to have a bit of shrapnel pulled out from my eye. Working on DIY projects obviously has its risks, as a shard of wood found its way into my eyeball, flicked up whilst watching someone saw a piece of board. I blinked a few times, and thought it had found its way out, but alas, it had done quite the reverse and managed to disappear up under my eyelid. It had been sat up there for a few days causing all matter of mischief before I decided I should probably get it seen to.
Fortunately (unfortunately?) my inner eyelid took most of the damage, and I now have a few drops to take for the next three months. Hooray!
What was an incapable person like me doing trying his hand at amateur carpentry? A few of you may know that I have been slowly building myself a new office now that I have a dedicated space in our new house.
I sold all of my previous bits (desk, chair, monitor etc) from before and decided to start from scratch. This process has been surprisingly revealing about myself, and is a good start to what I want to talk about.
I made my first few purchases for the office, Ikea’s biggest possible standing desk was the most considered at over £500.
Unboxing it, I looked at it. It was huge, big, surprisingly heavy and unashamedly Ikea (nothing wrong with Ikea things of course, but you likely know what I mean when I say you can spot certain Ikea furniture from a mile away).
“I don’t really like this”, I said to Becky. “It’s a bit ugly”.
“Why did you buy it then?” she replied.
“Because I need the space, and also I wanted a standing desk”.
“You have three things on your desk, and would you even work stood up?”.
She was right (she usually is). I had used a standing desk before when working on the office at Monzo, and although I used it lots to begin with, the novelty slowly wore off. With regards to my desk, I can simply not work in clutter, so what did I need the room for?
It took a second before it dawned on me that I was being influenced. I was purchasing items I didn’t love, because subliminally my favourite tech influencers were telling me I needed ‘bigger’, ‘better’ & ‘more’. Gaze over Instagram or Youtube and folks grids are filled with ultra-wide monitors, LED lights, gaming rigs, desks big enough for three people to sit around. My idea of good and what I should be having was being skewed.
That is fine for many, but I am not a gamer anymore. I don’t need or like all of these fancy things. I just want a simple little space to be able to read my books, write in my journal, and get my work done. I don’t have a tonne of gadgets, nor do I work with four or more apps open on my monitor at a time.
I packaged everything back up and sent it back. It took a few days to reassess what I wanted from the space, and what I wanted it to look like. I shifted where I was going to put the desk - pride of place on the biggest wall - to a smaller nook instead opting to make the biggest wall a dedicated feature bookshelf. Thinking about this bought me so much more joy and pleasure than imaging a big, bright desk that wasn’t really me.
I bought the sort of desk I had always wanted, a beautiful little wooden writing desk with three drawers.
Will it bring me more kudos with the aesthetic tech kids? Probably not. But who cares? This space is for me, not for anyone else, and I want it to be something that I enjoy and find inspiring. If I hadn’t of intervened at that point, I may have committed to something that I was less keen on because of others influence.
Maybe this story is not relevant to you on first glance. But really this is not about my office or my desk, this is about outside influence hindering our decisions and making us follow directions that perhaps deep down we don’t want to follow.
I took a bit (a lot) of slack when mentioning I was moving to work full time in crypto, despite it being a space I have quietly been involved in for a while. In fact, some ex-colleagues and acquaintances seemingly have cut ties with me since that point. Whilst it didn’t stop me moving into the industry, it certainly played on my mind for a bit at the time.
“Am I making the right decision here? X person doesn’t agree with me and Y person thinks I am an idiot”.
If I was more on the fence at the time, I would likely have been quite easily swayed away from doing so, and that would have meant that I missed out on a huge opportunity. I wonder now looking back over the years, how many good opportunities I might have missed based off of someone else’s opinion.
On reflection, I believe that some of the best decisions I have made in my life, are the decisions that people have generally disagreed with the most.
Becoming more in tune with your own mind can be really beneficial for providing your own source of influence. This is why journalling has been such a life changing activity (I plan to write more on that later down the line actually). For me, it has been the only tool to allow me to really uncover what I want from life. Creating that direction from within yourself, and then forging the blueprint to help you get there is important to knowing which influencers to cut out from our lives.
Of course, some of these voices can be hugely beneficial for us, whether that is for our personal growth or for our mental health - the trick is finding out who exactly is a positive influence on your life and who is a negative influence. Get closer to the prior, distance yourself from the latter. Make your own independent decisions, and trust your gut.