Both Ways

We can’t input and output at the same time.

Computers can because they have separate processors.

Humans do not. And whatever your 5th-grade science teacher said about left and right brains is almost complete nonsense.

It’s difficult to output without some experience or information we can process and change into something new—some material we can use to create. Input.

Interesting creative output requires interesting creative input.

But the output directs the input.

Without our own output to direct what we put in, we just become someone else’s input.

Sunken Costs

There are two ways sunken costs can trick us.

The first is believing that because we’ve already bought something — invested time or money into it — that we must use it to get our money’s worth.

That’s not to say we should be wasteful, but it does mean that we have to drink the rest of the bottle.

The second way they get us is when we think that we’ve put in enough.

We think that we’ve invested enough to be sure that another minute won’t achieve anything.

Often, that’s the moment when a little extra push would bring success.

Sunken costs hurt us both ways. There’s no way to tell the difference.

The best we can do for ourselves is ignore them altogether.

Because as much as we like to draw lines between the past and present, the only connection they have to the future is the one we choose to make right now.

Teaser

We are waiting for you.

We are waiting for you to tell us a story — the one that only you can.

We want to hear what the world feels like from where you’re standing.

Do not be selfish with your story. Your story matters.

Open a channel so that it can trickle out and carve a new valley into the world.

We are waiting for you to tell us your story.

Give us a teaser, at least.

Hot Air

If you are ever uncertain of your ability to change the world, know this:

Some people believe they can survive from sunlight and air alone.

A Flat Earth is one thing, but Breatharianism is another thing entirely.

You would think the evidence is pretty sound on the whole sustenance thing. You know, from millennia of struggling to survive.

Nevertheless, some people believe that they can get by on sunlight and atmospheric absorption, or some such guff.

At least, that’s what they tell people.

That means every time they eat or drink — and they do — they are then able to convince themselves that it didn’t happen.

Some people’s ability to delude themselves was so strong it killed them.

That is why arguing with people on the internet is a waste of time.

People don’t believe facts. They believe stories. That leaves pretty much everything up for debate — a debate that nobody ever wins.

Even if we’re going to argue about what we eat, you would think we could all agree that eating some food is necessary.

I guess that’s humans for you.

Limitlessly, psychotically creative

Look Alive

Most people don’t realize how easily they can change reality.

It’s not that it changes the world materially. It just chooses different materials to make the world.

Our brains are wired to look for things we want to see, whether we’re consciously looking or not.

If bananas are keeping you alive, it pays to be able to spot as many of them as possible, even when you’re not paying attention. The same goes for tigers.

That’s why you always notice more of the car model you’re driving, and ants always all appear at the same time.

If we believe the world is dangerous, then it will become more dangerous.

If we are looking for reasons to be happy, we will find many more of them.

There are too many good reasons to be alive once you start looking.

Sometimes we have to go away and look somewhere else to see what was there all along.

Balls

What is it about a sphere that gets us so excited?

Such an alien shape.

Everybody loves ’em.

Dogs. Humans. Even cows.

You can kick ’em. You can throw ’em.

They fucking roll!

One little ball can be the cause and the solution to so many of our problems.

Balls.

Great all round.

Under One Roof

The closer we are, the more obvious it is.

That might mean close like family close, or that could mean physically close like locked in a prison cell close.

Either way, the closer we are, the harder it is to ignore our impact on the people we live with.

When we’re all up here under the big sky, it’s easy to forget those invisible ties. The ripple we create is quickly absorbed in the ocean of humanity around us.

But under one roof, when that ocean becomes a puddle, the ripple we create is much more noticeable.

Bunged Up

Writer’s block is for amateurs.

There are few things more intimidating than a blank page. But everyone knows that the way to get through any creative block is to just get going.

For writer’s block, write something. For painter’s block, paint something. For accountant’s block (is that a thing?) do your favourite equation or something.

Whatever we do, every day is a clean slate — a blank page.

Some of us may have an itinerary, but there are always big blank spots that need filling, and they are can be just as intimidating as sitting down at an actual blank piece of paper.

That’s one reason why doing something deliberate early, a small morning routine like drinking a glass of water or exercising, can be so powerful. It helps us get going. It breaks the seal on the day.

It’s my remedy to “being a functioning member of society block.”

Eye Believe

The human eye is a remarkably poor tool for observing the world.

We can look but often do not see. And seeing certainly doesn’t result in believing.

We can focus with great skill but at the risk of blinkering ourselves.

Best of all, we can hold such a strong belief in our brains that it determines what we see and what we focus on — what’s real.

It’s funny how easy it is to ignore what’s right in front of us — and terrifying how we can focus on what isn’t there at all.

Seeing is rarely believing.

But when we really believe in something, that’s all we can see.

Outta Your Way

Before we could write books or draw maps, we told stories to guide our children.

One of the oldest stories is about the Troll who lives under the bridge.

The story is about how whenever we try to cross to better pastures or make a change in our lives — when we attempt to bridge the gap between ourselves and our future self — we will bump into a Troll.

The Troll will psyche us out in whatever way they can: telling us we’re too small or weak or stupid and we’ll get eaten alive. Or that the grass isn’t greener. Or to try tomorrow when the Troll isn’t there (it’s a lie).

The Troll that blocks the path to our dreams is the same nasty, hairy ape that lives in us all: the one that’s scared of change and worries about food all the time.

The only way to get past the Troll — to reach our dreams — is to stamp our hooves on the ground, lower our head, and charge straight through that fucker.

Idle Thumbs

The first rule of survival is that you must always be doing something.

It could be hunting. It could be chopping wood. It could be making tools or clothing or food.

It’s the first rule because survival takes a huge amount of effort. It’s a constant struggle just to get enough food.

But every one of us is a survivor.

The amount of energy required to survive is so much that as soon that ferociously powerful brain of ours gets time to stop and think, we are instantly overwhelmed.

That’s what powers the ticking clock within us. The nervous itch, the restless tapping of our feet — it’s all because the ancient ape within is wondering how the hell we’re going to survive if we’re just sitting there.

We must move.

So we work. We make. We explore.

Or we dampen the urge with drink and drugs and food and fighting; we consume.

We made fishing hooks and wheels and philosophy and farms and skyscrapers and the blockchain all because that curious chimp couldn’t sit still.

The devil will make work for our idle thumbs, if we let him.

Only daily practice, kaizen, a future self, can keep him quiet.

 

Leaky Brains

Big brains must give off more electromagnetic energy or something. 

Occasionally, we’ll meet a person whose brain is so chock full that it leaks out of their ears into everyone around them. 

It might be new information. Sometimes it’s just a different way of looking at things. And just listening to them talk is a learning experience. 

That’s why James Altucher says we should try to be the stupidest person in the room. 

The best way to fill our brains is to fill our lives with wonderful, colourful, big leaky brains of all types. 

And let our brains soak up all that juicy knowledge. 

 

Hard Lines

Kids are terrible at drawing, but most of us don’t get much better.

For over 65,000 years, Humans have painted the walls of our caves with plant blood, scratching in the stories of the animals nearby; where the deer drink; where the big cats lurk.

And for 63,350 of them, nobody gave a damn about perspective.

After all, it’s not like you get long to practice art when you’re halfway between starving to death and eaten alive.

Then one day about 600 years ago, some bloke finally figured out how to properly draw perspective, and before you could say “vanishing point,” everyone was at it.

What takes most kids just a few years to pick up — and less if we try — took dozens of millennia for Humanity to learn.

But just because we can all learn to do it now doesn’t make it any easier than it ever was.

We’ve just got 150,000+ years of lessons to lean on.

 

The Hive

There’s Safety in the Hive.

There’s Knowledge in the Hive.

We Share Art in the Hive.

We Find Love in the Hive.

We Fight in the Hive.

 

Share Your Truth with the Hive.

Spread a Lie through the Hive

Make a Wish to the Hive.

Take Men’s Lives with the Hive.

 

Can’t Wait without the Hive.

Can’t Make without the Hive.

Gut Aches without the Hive.

Can’t Escape the Hive.

 

New ZIP, who dis?

I don’t know about you but something strange happens when I travel great distances at speed.

It’s more than just jet lag.

Step off a plane a few hundred miles away and suddenly, it’s someone else’s money I’m spending.

Sometimes a bit of that new person sticks around even after the old me catches up with all his baggage.

But every time, there’s an adventure to be had — and Future Ben foots the bill. 

So — tequila shots all round before he gets here.

 

Hormonal Sapiens

We place so much attention on our sapient side that we often overlook the real driving force: hormones.

It’s nice to feel like we’re in control of our thoughts and actions until we wake up one morning with our hormones out of whack and nothing really matters anymore.

The truth is that on some days, the quest for improvement, kaizen, career, dreams or self-actualization — whatever we call it — is mostly just a fight to control our hormones.

Figuring out what we can do to rebalance them when they get messed up. Uncovering what messes them up in the first place.

Learning how to talk down that ancient, anxious Ape inside. How to hype them up. Cheer them up. Give them a reason not to fling shit at the wall.

And that usually means getting out for some exercise, eating something healthy, and going to bed a little bit earlier. And laying off the fermented fruit for a bit.

But some days, Chimp just doesn’t want to be good. 

 

Because You Can

It doesn’t take much to get me to misbehave.

Most of us need very little motivation to do something we want to do, and even less when our mates are doing it too.

Children are pretty busy trying things out, and it’s easy to justify spending time doing that. 

Over the years, people tend to forget that we can try things out for the hell of it. Or play a spontaneous pick-up ball game with random people in the park.

Certain things convince us that “need” and “want” are better reasons than “can,” but there’s no difference at all.

That’s why doing the “can’t” is how we get what we “want.”

 

 

Write you are

For a long time, I wasn’t a writer.

I had dreamed about it, but I didn’t have anything that proved it. Nothing had been written.

Evading and denying my inner writer caused great anguish and uncertainty in my life. Later, I found some solace because my work involved writing, but deep down, that wasn’t enough. 

It was writing, sure, but it wasn’t my writing. Copywriting is all about writing for someone else in someone else’s voice, after all. But it paid the bills.

Writing to you every day changed everything. Just that tiny bit of doing, and suddenly, I was. 

It’s not like it’s easy writing every day. Some days, it’s not even enjoyable. But I write every day because that is what writers do.

Doing is being. Either we do, or we’re not.

But when we are, and we don’t, that’s when things get really messy. 

 

 

 

Precedent

Decisions made before we get there are tough to swallow.

That’s why all kids burn their fingers on the stove. They weren’t there when it was decided it was too hot to touch, even though the information was relayed to them sincerely.

Telling somebody, “We decided giving you Y would be better than giving you X” is pointless because we didn’t give them a chance to consider the alternative.

Something isn’t better than nothing if you didn’t realize you were getting nothing to begin with.

And what might seem like the best of both worlds could turn out to be the worst of both for the person who wasn’t involved in the conversation.

It’s safer not to assume otherwise.

 

What a Ride

Did you hear the one about the woman who fell in love with a rollercoaster?

It wasn’t a joke.

Maybe there is some security in knowing that a rollercoaster will never look at other rollercoasters or try to rub rails with them.

Maybe there’s some comfort in knowing that a rollercoaster will always be there; colourful, well-oiled, steadfast, and reliable.

Maybe it’s the taboo thrill of the safety bar closing around your chest, locking you in a PVC-scented embrace.

Maybe it’s the tickle of the cold steel brushing against the hairs on your arms. Or the loss of orientation, and the screaming as things go rapidly downhill.

I’m not sure what has to happen to a person to make them fall in love with a rollercoaster, but let’s assume it isn’t great.

It is pretty cool that despite that hurt, the human heart will always find something to love, even if the brain is too scared to let it be another human. 

Excuse me while I hug my guitar.

 

Who said it?

Most people don’t speak for themselves.

It’s not that we can’t. It’s just easier to trot off someone else’s line. And just as easy to drop it if it doesn’t fit.

We see something in the news that sounds good and seems to align with what we believe, so we start repeating it. That’s just human.

The danger is when this happens unconsciously. When those alien thoughts trickle into our brain and start to pool without our noticing.

Then something comes out of our mouth that we don’t recognize. Something that surprises us. 

And we think, “Whose line is that?”

Because that sure as hell wasn’t me.

 

Mind the Grass

Humans sure love a patch of grass.

Maybe it’s because we were born on the savannahs and emigrated to the river banks, where grasses tend to grow.

Or it could be because the human eye perceives more shades of green than any other colour, and grass has every single one.

Grass is such an important part of human culture that we even have a few cliches about it.

Yes, the grass is always greener. But have you ever actually watched grass grow?

Sure, it’s not exactly a white knuckle thrill. But it’s not boring either. 

Checking in every day. Tempting the grass to grow this way or that. A little snip here. A seed or two there. 

Tending grass — or any plant — while it grows is one of the most interesting and fulfilling things we can do with our time.

Watching grass grow: not half as dull as watching paint dry!

But then again, I’m no Picasso.

 

Hot Stuff

Do you know those people that you see pretty frequently but always seem to avoid actually making contact with you?

It’s never someone we really know, but maybe we see them at the store or in the street or the park pretty often.

They have a sneaky look, never meet your eye when you turn to look, and always seem to be doing something else. 

It’s because they fancy the pants off you.

They can’t even look at you without getting a tingly crotch.

Every time they see you coming, their stomach leaps into their throat and starts making weird noises, and they have to look away because they can’t breathe

I thought you should know, in case you worried it was something else.

 

Rhythm of the Feet

It’s funny how things we hate often become part of our personality.

For better or worse.

Running, or anything faster than a brisk walk, was never very appealing; the last resort to catch a train.

It didn’t seem very dignified, especially how I was doing it. I didn’t go very far or fast and did get very sweaty, which was embarrassing. But over the last six years, running has become part of my life.

Starting a run is never easy. But something magical happens about a mile in, when your body has finally accepted that you’re not going to stop.

Rhythm.

The rhythm of your heart pounding gently and the sigh of your lungs sucking long, deep bagfuls of air; arms swinging almost of their own accord, all to the gentle metronome of your feet hitting the ground.

Everything becomes part of that movement, that directed dance.

Head up, putting one foot in front of the other again and again and again just to go where we want a little faster. And by sheer force of will, doing it longer than any other animal on the planet.

Nothing could be more human than that.

 

Beverageless

There’s something about a beverage that makes it easier to talk.

Maybe it’s just a British thing.

For almost every single situation where you might sit down and have a good natter, the Brits have a drink for it.

The pub is a mainstay of society. Walk into any home on that bickering brace of islands, and the first thing you’ll be offered is a drink most likely, a cup of tea.

Beverages lubricate even the most stubborn conversations. But I’ve noticed that drinking something while talking has become a nervous tick. There’s rarely an occasion these days where you’ll catch me beverageless in conversation.

Maybe that’s why my North American friends keep asking me to say, “bottle of water.”

 

 

Worth doing badly

 

Did you know there’s a Toe Wrestling World Championship?

That’s another weird side to humans.

Pick any activity — and I mean any — and there’s probably an International Federation and a World Cup. There’s definitely a World Record.

It’s our competitive nature. Nobody wants to be the slowest when the village gets attacked by a saber-tooth tiger.

Just add agriculture and wait 10,000 years, and you get the World’s Greatest Cherry-Pit Spitter. 

Of course, it’s important to try our best. But not everything has to be done to Olympic standard to be worth doing. And perfection is a poor excuse.

You can be awful at meditation or sudoku or singing and still enjoy them. And you can be terrible at picking up litter, running, giving to charity, or writing, and yet they’re still all worth doing.

Most things that are worth doing are still worth doing badly. And you’re never too bad to get better.

So, get out there and give it your worst shot.

 

Like that time

If you didn’t get the memo, here’s today’s agenda.

Today will be easy, like that test you thought you bombed but actually did pretty well on.

Today will be fun, like when you got chased and thought you weren’t going to get away but then you did.

Today will be interesting, like that weird show your friend forced you to watch that ended up being so good you binged the series later at home.

Today will be fast, like that unforgettable holiday that — after two weeks of — you were quite looking forward to coming home from.

Today is going to be quick, easy, and loud, like that time when…

Well, you get the idea.

 

Clichés Are Life

People who don’t like clichés are missing out.

Clichés were passed down over hundreds of thousands of years to communicate the oldest, most profound knowledge about being human. Caveman talk was probably 90% clichés and pickup lines. 

Clichés are unoriginal because they’re true.

This is the story of evil: Hurt people hurt people.

This is the story of happiness: Happy people help people.

This is the story of money: You can’t buy happiness.

This is the story of love: If you love it, let it go.

This is the story of heartbreak: It’s not you; it’s me.

This is the story of fate: Everything happens for a reason.

This is the story of revenge: An eye for an eye.

This is the story of fear: Curiosity killed the cat.

This is the story of envy: The grass is always greener.

This is the story of success: The early bird catches the worm.

This is the story of luck: Every dog has its day.

This is the story of patience: Good things come to those who wait.

Don’t let anyone tell you, “it’s just a cliché.” Clichés are the whispers of our ancestors; life lessons learned long ago.

It pays to listen.  

 

 

Stay Different

Yesterday, the greatest businessman alive wrote us a letter containing some sage words of advice.

And they’re not about how to time your pee breaks.

Ol’ Jeffo’s advice for success is simple: stay different.

The Universe is always trying to reclaim us for itself, to return us to equilibrium, to flatten us into our surroundings.

To make us ‘normal.’

Merely staying alive is a struggle because Life isn’t typical in this cold, vast, empty Universe.

Distinctiveness is what makes you and me different but also what brings us together. And our differences are worth fighting for, together. 

I’ll leave you with the words of the man who will take humanity to the stars

Be kind, be original, create more than you consume, and never, never, never let the universe smooth you into its surroundings.

 

 

Another dollar

What would you do for a dollar a day?

The phrase, “Another day, another dollar,” comes from a time when that was exactly how much a day of your life was worth — if you were lucky.

It was sung while slinging dirt out of the ancient Panamanian soil and hauling on salt-crusted ropes, hundreds of miles away from land.

It was grunted in the dark, forgotten slots of the mines and shouted between the thundering, crashing machines on the workshop floor.

And it’s sighed across cups of thick, lush coffee in sunlight-lanced kitchens as we crack our knuckles, wiggle our toes, and settle down for a few hours talking and typing.

“Dollars for days” is just what we do.

But at least I get to spend these days in my pyjamas.

And the coffee is better, too.

 

 

Fool thy neighbour

Humanity sure does some weird stuff. 

For as long as we’ve been scratching stories down in stone, we’ve put aside one day a year for playing harmless pranks. 

Worldwide. For millennia.

We just love seeing the look on other people’s faces when they think something terrible or wonderful has happened, but it hasn’t. 

Who doesn’t love a good letdown?

Maybe it’s just a good reminder that even in the most crushing disappointments, we can find a bit of light relief. 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s not really

Humans have extraordinary brains but they’re difficult to drive.

The problem is that our brain is so powerful — so good at imagining the various possible states of reality — that our body doesn’t realize it’s not real.

A few hundred years ago, some writer who fancied himself a philosopher pointed this out with the witty phrase, “My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.”

We’ve all drifted into a dangerous thought and, before you know it, you’re there: heart pumping and mind racing, vividly day-dreaming the worst possible outcome as if it were happening right now.

But it’s not really happening.

It almost certainly never will.

And even if it does, worrying about it won’t help.

So you may as well think about something nice instead.

 

 

Art we lucky?

Art is an excellent example of humanity at its best.

We’re so lucky to have the luxury of sitting around and thinking of ways to make things pretty. To have time to spare to make a little mark on the Universe:

“I’m just gonna draw my mate killing this mammoth because it was legendary.”

Isn’t that the greatest gift?

It’s probably True that most of what we create comes from a need to be remembered, for our time on this bald, wet little planet to mean something. Our infinity projects.

But you know what’s better than looking at art?

Making it.

It doesn’t matter if nobody sees it. It doesn’t matter if it gets hung on the fridge. It’s the making it that really makes you feel.

That’s what art’s really about.

Hopefully, after you made your art you’ll want to show it to someone.

And they’ll be interested to see what you’ve made.

And maybe you’ll even inspire them to make their own little mark on the world.

That’s art.

 

Who’s too small?

One big issue we must all battle is that we start so small.

The problem isn’t quite that we’re small.

The problem is that we expect the world to get smaller as we grow, to start to make more sense and show where it will bend to our will.

But unfortunately, as our limbs expand, so do our horizons.

The world turns out to be an even bigger and busier and scarier place than we thought. And we feel smaller and less important than ever.

Which is a good place to start.

We are small and unimportant, little more than a mote of sand in the sea or a mosquito in the marshes. 

But put that dust mote into an oyster or that mosquito in a tent and you’ll quickly find out that nothing is ‘too small’ or ‘too big’ to make a difference.

Making a difference is about context and action.

Nothing else matters — least of all size.

Making is better

There’s a lot of money to be made in the world of Art.

There’s a lot of poverty to be made as well.

One of the travesties of our childhood is that if you weren’t ‘creative’ then you didn’t get to do creative stuff.

But being human is being creative. It’s not something for ‘creative people.’

People are creative but we get trapped into thinking that what matters is that other people pay for it.

I’m blessed that anyone reads this; I truly am.

But strangely, it wasn’t until I accepted nobody might read it that I was able to start writing it at all.

 

Nobody cares until everybody does

This week the internet introduced me to a guy called Kofi who made a great album a couple of years back. If you like good words and chill beats I highly recommend it.

The title track is a great little story about people and making art…

One cold night in Birmingham city center, Kofi stood on a corner rapping as the world walked by.

For hours he spat into the void but folks were too busy Christmas shopping to stop and listen. He knew they could hear and he was happy doing his thing so he kept on going. For hours.

Eventually one person stopped by to listen to him and before too long a large crowd formed. Because when you’re creating, Nobody Cares Until Everybody Does.

And I’ll bet Kofi will be making music long after people stop caring because that is what we do when we decide to create.

Thanks for being the first to stop by and listen.

I hope you stick around.

Nice glow

Wherever you are.

Whatever you want to call it.

There’s something within you that can light up the darkest place.

Even when no one can see it — and even when you forget it’s there — you carry that warm glow of love and kindness everywhere.

Don’t forget to share.