Thursday, August 27, 2015

Forward Vision

Plant wheat...
I saw a quote this week that got me thinking. I think it's based on a Chinese proverb, and it goes like this:

If your vision is for a year, plant wheat
If your vision is for ten years, plant trees
If your vision is for a lifetime, plant people


I really like this quote, and it made me question whether my vision - my dreams and plans - were long term enough.

I began to wonder what wheat might look like in my life, i.e. something that provides immediate sustenance but regular work in sowing, harvesting and processing.

I wondered what trees might be - parts of my life which take longer to grow but which provide shelter, fruit, and strength. And I mulled over what it means to plant people, to sow into others, to raise up and equip those around me.
"If your vision is for a year, plant wheat..."
As I chewed it over more I began to question which one was more important than the others, leaning towards the lifetime vision of planting people, and re-evaluating shorter term goals... perhaps these are less important in the long run.

Plant trees...
But then I had something of an epiphany. It strikes me that these aren't binary either/or statements. It's not a case of picking one over another.

It's more a reminder that we need to hold the short, medium and long term in harmony with each other.

We need a vision for one year, ten years AND a lifetime. We need wheat, trees and people. It's inclusive not exclusive.

What are the important wheat, trees and people in your life? Have you articulated your short, medium and long term goals?

It's a delicate balance, because we need to attempt to live fully in the short term, whilst to the best of our ability making sure that our wheat-planting is enabling us to plant trees and plant people.
"We need a vision for one year, ten years AND a lifetime."
In my life my "wheat" vision is about providing for my family  - putting bread on the table - which for this season means committing to a day job that I'm grateful for. Planting trees is about allowing creative seeds to grow - writing, musicianship, craftsmanship are three of my key themes in the medium term.

Whilst I'm tending my wheat I need to ensure these trees are moving from seeds to saplings to maturity, so that means making regular habits of writing, songwriting, playing my instruments and making things. Some of these habits are more regular than others, but trees grow at different rates and the important thing is that they bear fruit in the right season.

Plant people...
It's in the area of the "lifetime" vision that I've been the most challenged. In many ways the short and medium term visions are a little selfish - focused on what provides for me and which fulfils me.

The lifetime vision turns that on it's head - out of the abundance of wheat, out of the fruit of the trees, how am I blessing and developing others?

As a dad, my immediate thought turns to my kids - what I am sowing into their lives, how am I serving them and helping them to be the best expression of who they're made to be? Am I giving them enough quality time?
"The lifetime vision turns that on it's head - how am I blessing and developing others?"
But broader than that, how am I reaching out to others in my community, in my workplace, elsewhere? I hope that this blog and my podcast are outworkings of this. My intention as I write and record is to share encouragement, challenge and inspiration to help you become the best expression of who YOU'RE made to be too.

It's great to dream big, to aim high in the long term, but we need to look to the mid term and short term too. Are there habits you need to develop - trees you need to plant - to meet those ambitions? What can you do in the short term, what crop can you sow? And who can you help on their own journey?

It's a myth that we have to be perfect to help others, often we just have to make ourselves available. Whatever your wheat, trees or people are, my prayer for you this week is for your vision to expand!
"Whatever your wheat, trees or people are, my prayer for you this week is for your vision to expand!"
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Thanks for taking the time to read Forward Vision. If you've enjoyed it please share it with your friends on social media! Why not subscribe to The Potting Shed Podcast on iTunes for the audio version and much more (direct RSS feed is here). If you're reading in August 2015 then please vote for The Potting Shed Podcast to win an award for "Best Self Help Podcast" here.

I'd love to hear from you, so feel free to comment below or email me at stricklandmusings@gmail.com 

If you want to stay up to date please sign up to my mailing list, and do check out my book Life Space on Amazon.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Monkey Nuts

Don't be a monkey
Have you ever tried to catch a monkey? Apparently an effective way is to put some nuts in a container with a small opening. The monkey can reach its hand into the container, but as soon as it grabs hold of the nuts it can no longer withdraw its hand.

The logical thing for it to do is let go of the nuts, but the monkey won’t release what it now possesses and remains trapped.

I’ve never caught a monkey, so I can’t verify whether this is an effective method; however it does provide a good illustration for this week’s post.
"as soon as it grabs hold of the nuts it can no longer withdraw its hand"
How do we go through life open handed? It's a big question, when it's all too easy for us to hold tight to what we've got. In the end though, holding too tight can hold us back or hold us down like the monkey above.

I'm someone who likes to have a plan. I like to think I'm quite flexible and happy to change my plans, but the truth is that's not always the case. Sometimes it takes me a while to process different options before committing to a new plan - an expression of my "strategic" theme. Uncertainty can be a bit stressful, and for me at least, having a plan helps me feel a bit more certain about life.
"How do we go through life open handed?"
Are you risk averse?
Looking back over my life, there have definitely been times when I've chosen certainty over risk, even when the risk was positive and would have led to better things or more interesting life experiences.

I wasn't brave enough to go on a gap year before university, like many of my friends, instead choosing the somewhat more certain route of starting my degree - although even that was petrifying at the time.

I'm glad I took the risk though, because I had a fantastic time at University and my life has been enriched with friendships and skills I wouldn't have gained otherwise.

Tim Ferriss said this: "People will choose unhappiness over uncertainty" and I think there's something in that. Sometimes we hold so tight to the things we're certain about, even if they're not all that great, that we're unwilling to be open to new adventure and new opportunity.

A question I come back to time and time again is how can we be the best expression of who we're made to be? And I think a big part of the answer is being open to new ideas, new opportunities and new experience. Not holding tight to our monkey nuts but letting go - even if that's scary - and going beyond our comfort zone.
"Sometimes we hold so tight to the things we're certain about that we're unwilling to be open to new adventure and new opportunity."
It's a cliche, but we don't know what we're capable of until we try. When we stretch ourselves we might be suprised by the result - and it doesn't have to be an all or nothing leap into the unknown, but it could be more regular steps instead. Building a bridge, as Jeff Goins described it to me, or wedging the door to our dreams open a little bit at a time, in the metaphor Chris Whyley gave.

Are you stretching yourself?
Nelson Mandela said: “There’s no passion to be found in playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you’re capable of living”, and yet I’m sure that many of us at times have been like the monkey – opting for the low risk and high certainty monkey nuts. 

I'm not suggesting you quit your job, sell your house, or move to Africa this very moment (although I'm not holding you back either!). But we would all do well to ask whether we're holding too tightly to anything, and whether we need to be more open minded towards anything - circumstances, locations, relationships, skills... what might it be for you?

Don't be a monkey, be the open minded, open hearted, best expression of who you're made to be. As Harold Whitman said: "Don't ask yourself what the world needs - ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive".
"we would all do well to ask whether we're holding too tightly to anything"

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Thanks for taking the time to read Monkey Nuts. If you've enjoyed it please share it with your friends on social media! Why not subscribe to The Potting Shed Podcast on iTunes for the audio version and much more (direct RSS feed is here). If you're reading in August 2015 then please vote for The Potting Shed Podcast to win an award for "Best Self Help Podcast" here.

I'd love to hear from you, so feel free to comment below or email me at stricklandmusings@gmail.com 

If you want to stay up to date please sign up to my mailing list, and do check out my book Life Space on Amazon.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Feeding the wolf...

Which wolf will you feed?
There’s a Cherokee parable in which a chief was teaching his grandson about life and the internal struggle we face between positive and negative thinking and actions. 

The chief described these as two wolves, a good wolf and a bad wolf, fighting for supremacy. The grandson asks “Which wolf will win?”, “The one you feed” the chief replies. 

I’ve written previously about the “re-wilding” movement, and the transformative effect that releasing keystone species (such as the wolf) can have on our degraded and over-controlled landscapes. It’s amazing, and it’s worth watching this video about what happened in Yellowstone National Park when they re-introduced wolves. It’s called a trophic cascade, and it increases the richness of an ecosystem.  
“Which wolf will win?”, “The one you feed” the chief replies. 
In my book Life Space: Give Your Dreams Room To Grow, I wondered what the metaphorical equivalent to releasing wolves in our lives might be. I suggested that it might be something to do with setting our “wild” dreams free to change the landscape of our lives, to introduce a missing richness. 

Are we being authentic?
Without being as dramatic as the Cherokee chief’s parable, I think we do face an internal battle between the wolves of authenticity and inauthenticity. I’ve been reminded of this as I’ve been reading Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s seminal book Flow, on the psychology of happiness. 

In this context, being authentic is about making life choices out of a rational evaluation of our own experience – it doesn’t necessarily matter what that choice is, so long as it’s an expression of what we genuinely feel or believe. 

By contrast, being inauthentic is about making life choices based on what we feel we ought to do, or what everyone else is doing, a bit like the character Emmet in the Lego Movie – initially at least, just living life according to the instructions he’s been given to be like everyone else. 

So the battle for authenticity is this: how can we really be the best expression of who we’ve been made to be, rather than conforming to what society or other people expect of us? It’s a big question, but in the end, like the parable, it probably comes down to which wolf you choose to feed. 

"I think we do face an internal battle between the wolves of authenticity and inauthenticity."
On our allotment I have been watching our pumpkins gradually grow over the last few months. We try to grow big pumpkins as we love carving them and I also like brewing pumpkin beer (something of a signature brew of mine these days). They’ve still got a few months to grow, but one of our secrets is planting them on top of a generous helping of well rotted Black Country pigeon poo – provided to us by a generous neighbouring plot holder, who has a friend who keeps pigeons (yes, people still keep pigeons in the 21st century). 


We love growing pumkins!
As big as our pumpkins have grown over the past few years (and our record weight is over four stone), that’s nothing compared to a Welsh chap who was featured on a TV gardening programme. He grows absolutely mammoth vegetables, and one of the reasons he’s so successful is the feed he regularly gives them when he’s watering them. 

By comparison, in our cold-frame in our garden are various seedlings that we enthusiastically planted in the spring but which we never quite managed to plant out on the allotment. These are now withered and dry due to lack of watering. 

"What seeds or dreams are growing in your life? Are these the things you really want to grow?" 
What seeds or dreams are growing in your life? Are these the things you really want to grow? Perhaps your authentic dreams remain in seed form, while what’s taken root is something unintentional and inauthentic – a weed. How we use our time and energy is a huge part of this battle for authenticity. Here’s a great quote from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: 

 “Unless a person takes charge of them, both work and free time are likely to be disappointing. Like everything else, work and leisure can be appropriated for our needs. People who learn to enjoy their work, who do not waste free time, end up feeling that lives as a whole have become much more worthwhile.” 

Taking time to develop our skills in something we love, something authentically “us” is a way to feed the right wolf. In this way we can build a bridge, stone by stone, towards somewhere we really want to be – something that Jeff Goins and I discussed when I interviewed him recently. If we feel there’s a chasm between our dreams and our reality then we need to build a bridge, and give ourselves time to do that. 
"So which wolf are you feeding? Are you feeding fear or faith?"
So which wolf are you feeding? Are you feeding fear or faith? Doubt or determination? Application or apathy? Making bridges or bonds? 

Wherever you’re at, it’s never too late to feed the right wolf. And if you need some further encouragement, then these words from the book of Philippians are a good place to start: 

“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” (Phil 4:8-9, Message translation).


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Thanks for taking the time to read Feeding the Wolf. If you've enjoyed it please share it with your friends on social media! Why not subscribe to The Potting Shed Podcast on iTunes for the audio version and much more (direct RSS feed is here). If you're reading in August 2015 then please vote for The Potting Shed Podcast to win an award for "Best Self Help Podcast" here.

I'd love to hear from you, so feel free to comment below or email me at stricklandmusings@gmail.com 

If you want to stay up to date please sign up to my mailing list, and do check out my book Life Space on Amazon.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Living in the Past?

Back in fashion?
How long does it take things to become fashionable again? It seems to me that it’s around 20-30 years. So 1970s fashions became super-trendy again by the late 90s and early 2000s, and in recent times even the neon colours of 1980s fashion have cropped back up on our high streets. 

My parents (still) have a 1970s “wizard’s hat” lampshade in their lounge, and now that they’re selling their house over forty years later, it’s become a charming vintage feature!
 “The past is a place of reference, not a place of residence”
There’s the occasional news story that crops up about older people who have lived in the same house since they were born, and the house has never been updated – no modern conveniences whatsoever, maybe even only an outside loo. There have also been documented cases of servicemen lost on remote pacific islands who, when finally found decades later, are unaware that the war they were fighting was over.

 “The past is a place of reference, not a place of residence”. We may not be literally living in the past, in a house devoid of modern conveniences, but perhaps our mind-set has become out-dated instead?
"We’re living in an era where the pace of technological change is accelerating."
We’re living in an era where the pace of technological change is accelerating. Life “before Google” seems almost unimaginable. When does the present become the past? And how can we keep up?

In my day job, I’ve been conducting mid-year reviews with my team. In many ways you’re only as good as your last project – it’s all very well having had successful projects in the past, but what is important is that projects continue to be successful. You can’t trade off your reputation for very long, it’s important to continue to learn, improve and apply that to the job in hand.
"When does the present become the past? And how can we keep up?"
Are you about to be replaced by a robot?
To really live in the present and keep up with the changes going on around us, we need a growth mindset and not a fixed mindset – something Jeff Goins and I unpacked in my recent interview with him for The Potting Shed Podcast.

If your thinking gets stuck along the lines of “this is what I’ve always done” or “this is how I’ve always done it” then the chances are you’ll soon be living in the past. That's why I recommended the book Who Moved My Cheese? in my recent post Seven Top Summer Reads. It portrays this point brilliantly!

Over the next few decades our workplaces are likely to change considerably due to advances in technology, no matter what industry we’re in and I saw a quote this week which seemed to sum up the changes this will bring: "You can't do today's job with yesterday's methods and still be in business tomorrow".

So what’s the antidote? How can we develop a growth mindset? How can we anticipate and prepare for future change? I read an article by Geoffrey Colon recently where he posed three questions to help clarify our thinking.
  • Can someone do it cheaper?
  • Can a computer do it faster?
  • Is what I’m offering in demand in an age of abundance?
We don’t know what the future will hold, but it’s certain to be very different from “business as usual”, so taking some time to think about these questions and their implications to our lives is a good place to start. It's not something to be afraid of, but instead it's an opportunity to look for a fresh path. So don't get stuck in the past, instead let's boldly face the future!

"You can't do today's job with yesterday's methods and still be in business tomorrow".



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Thanks for taking the time to read Living In The Past. If you've enjoyed it please share it with your friends on social media! Why not subscribe to The Potting Shed Podcast on iTunes for the audio version and much more (direct RSS feed is here). 

I'd love to hear from you, so feel free to comment below or email me at stricklandmusings@gmail.com 

If you want to stay up to date please sign up to my mailing list, and do check out my book Life Space on Amazon.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

What we see depends mainly on what we look for..

What are you expecting to see?
The ability to see is an amazing thing, and since we’ve had our Guide Dog puppy, it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot more. Perhaps it’s something that many of us take for granted? I think I do.

Our eyes have the ability to take in so much information all the time that our brains are selective in what we process – what we focus on, so to speak – and so even though we may look at the same thing as someone else, we may “see” something different.
"What we are expecting does alter what we think we see."
What we are expecting does alter what we think we see. In my line of work I am surrounded by lots of specialists: archaeologists, ecologists, structural engineers, mechanical and electrical engineers, to name but a few. One great thing about this is that each of these specialists “sees” the projects we are involved with and the sites we assess in very different ways. I went on a site walkover recently which demonstrated this really well. 

Where I just saw overgrown vegetation, the ecologist saw Himalayan Balsam (an invasive species). Where I saw a green box, the electrical engineer saw a substation and could tell me how much power he expected it to carry. We looked at the same thing, but they saw much more than me – and there's a point to be made here about how teamwork broadens our vision.

Sometimes life's a blur!
In the 1990s Magic Eye posters were, briefly, popular (you don’t see them around these days really do you?). 

At first glance, the posters were a mess of chaotic patterns, but as you focused on the image, as your eyes adjusted, all of a sudden a 3D image would appear – usually dolphins or a famous building in my experience. Not everyone seemed to be able to see these images though. 

Happily I could, and I recall that the way it seemed to work for me was if I blurred my vision for a minute, this seemed to help my brain to “find” the image. 

In hindsight I think the challenge of being able to see the image or not was part of the appeal of these types of posters – perhaps the challenge was too hard which was why their popularity was short lived!

Being able to see the right thing, to get the right information, is another important element in my working life. We often produce technical drawings for Quantity Surveyors to price from, for Contractors to build from, and for regulators to approve. These drawings communicate information in a particular way, almost coded at times, and it’s a constant bugbear of consultants that other parties (e.g. contractors) don’t seem to be able to read the information on the drawings! 

Interpreting technical information is definitely a particular skill, but I have sympathy on both sides. As the old adage goes, a picture tells a thousand words – although I would add that if it needs a thousand words to explain a technical drawing then you’re doing it wrong! There’s much to be said for production of 3D information and imagery in assisting a whole project team to understand the various different elements, and this is something we increasingly do.
"As the old adage goes, a picture tells a thousand words"
Don't judge a book by it's cover...
In Malcolm Gladwell’s book “David and Goliath” he writes around the premise that things we often perceive as disadvantages may, in the right circumstances, be advantageous in different ways. 

One particular example he cites is the case of a simple IQ test with brief, basic questions, designed for almost instinctive response – measuring people’s “first glance” answers. 

What tends to happen is that people assume the questions are asking something they’re not, and get one or more of them wrong. 

Interestingly, if the examiners make the questions harder to read – by using a smaller font and a fainter colour for example, then subjects were actually more likely to get the questions right, as they were more likely to re-read the question. 

Gladwell cites this as a good example of “desirable difficulty”, when making something harder to understand works to our advantage, in this case by taking the questions more seriously rather than firing from the hip. 

As the saying goes, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover (harder to do in the digital age anyway?), although I remember at school that some of my classmates were able to solve maths problems “a priori” – i.e. “at first glance” (I never was). Whilst a picture may tell a thousand words, perhaps we too easily assume the picture is of something else - depending on what we are expecting to look at.

As an aside, apparently a trick for drawing something better, maybe from a photo, is to turn the original upside down. I think this is another example of desirable difficulty, as doing this it forces us to consider what we’re seeing without pre-conception, helping us to draw it more “truly” rather than drawing what we think we’re seeing and getting it wrong..   
"Whilst a picture may tell a thousand words, perhaps we too easily assume the picture is of something else - depending on what we are expecting to look at"
How we see ourselves is a big deal. Evidence for this is in the current trend for before/after weight loss photos which seem to be on every web page! One reason people seem to take these photos is to see the dramatic difference in their body shape over time, as it’s hard to see change in our lives (whether weight loss or not) on a daily basis. All too often I think we can see ourselves in a negative light, especially when we compare ourselves to our perceptions of others.

Do you see junk or value?
Particular words I find reassuring on this whole subject are the words of Psalm 139 which expresses the thought that we are fully known and fully loved by God. Not accidental, not a mistake, not unknown. 

Personally, the knowledge that I am fully accepted and loved by God is something that has taken a while to move from intellectual knowledge in my head to something I really know in my heart. 

I expect that this is a lifelong process, however accepting this truth more deeply has helped me to accept myself more too, to be more comfortable in my own skin and in how I’m wired.

There was a BBC news story recently about a man who bought a seemingly worthless wooden maul from a car boot sale for £3. The thing is, he had a hunch that it was something much more valuable, and sure enough it turned out to be a 4500 year old Egyptian tool worth over £4000! I love news stories like this, and we love buying things from car boot sales which we can “upcycle” into something else – a moral of this story is that there is often value in things written off as junk. Likewise, God is in the restoration business and usually sees value in us where we see only junk.

So what do you see around you this week? How do you see yourself? What do you need to take a deeper look at? What situations do you need to turn upside down, to see from a different perspective? What work situations, family situations, finance situations do you need to take a second look at?

Helen Keller was born sighted, but as a baby contracted an illness which left her deaf and blind. Amazingly her parents sought out help and found someone who was able to teach Helen to communicate through touch. Despite the significant disadvantage of not being able to see or hear, Helen went on to become the first deaf-blind person to gain a degree, and subsequently became an author and lecturer. Helen famously once said: “The only thing worse than being blind is having no vision”. Challenging stuff!
"This week, as well as appreciating the gift of sight, why not also look for and take the next step towards your vision, whatever that may be."
As I’ve been learning from having our Guide Dog puppy, sight is not something to be taken for granted. This week, as well as appreciating the gift of sight, why not also look for and take the next step towards your vision, whatever that may be.


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Thanks for taking the time to read What We See Depends Mainly On What We Look For. If you've enjoyed it please share it with your friends on social media! Why not subscribe to The Potting Shed Podcast on iTunes for the audio version and much more (direct RSS feed is here). 

I'd love to hear from you, so feel free to comment below or email me at stricklandmusings@gmail.com 

If you want to stay up to date please sign up to my mailing list, and do check out my book Life Space on Amazon.
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Friday, July 31, 2015

Interview with Jeff Goins

Jeff and I mid-flow...
Last week I had the privilege of interviewing best-selling American author Jeff Goins for The Potting Shed Podcast.

Jeff's most recent book The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant To Do is a really insightful read in terms of finding your calling, listening to your life and finding "that thing" you were made to do.

Jeff and I had a fantastic conversation talking around the topics of calling, failure, and how to pronounce the name "Csikszentmihalyi"!

Whether you're subscribed to my podcast or not, there's so much great stuff in this interview that I wanted to share it here too, so you can listen to it directly below!

Hope you get as much out of it as I did, and I'd love to hear your comments and thoughts.




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Thanks for taking the time to read my Interview with Jeff Goins. If you've enjoyed it please share it with your friends on social media! Why not subscribe to The Potting Shed Podcast on iTunes for the audio version and much more (direct RSS feed is here). Please nominate my podcast for an award during July 2015 - press the big red button here.

I'd love to hear from you, so feel free to comment below or email me at stricklandmusings@gmail.com 

If you want to stay up to date please sign up to my mailing list, and do check out my book Life Space on Amazon.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Seven Top Summer Reads

Schools are out, bags are packed and many of you will be jetting off on holiday at some point over the summer. So that you can make the most of your time, here are my seven top summer reads for your inspiration and encouragement. I’ve deliberately chosen these titles as I think they will all challenge your thinking in a good way. So in no particular order, here goes!

The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant To Do
Jeff Goins

If ever there’s a time to take some space to re-think your “why”, then it’s the summer break, and Jeff’s book The Art of Work is a really helpful perspective on discovering your calling. As the book explains, it’s not always a light bulb moment, it takes time, and often it’s our failures which lead us to success. 

I was fortunate to be able to interview Jeff this week for The Potting Shed Podcast, so look out for that episode coming out soon – it’s well worth a listen!

Spencer Johnson

Dealing with change can be difficult, in whatever area of our life we face it. In the area of our work change can make us fearful and we can often resist it. The lessons in this short parable have stuck with me ever since I first read it over ten years ago. 

It’s a quick read, but given that studies predict up to 35% of jobs will become redundant due to automation and robotics over the next 20 years, change is inevitable so it’s best to be ahead of the curve…

Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell’s books are all bestsellers, and there’s a good reason for that. He has a rare ability to view things from a different perspective and challenge conventional thinking. In David and Goliath he challenges our perceptions of weakness and encourages us to question our giants – often our giants aren’t what they seem, and our weaknesses can lead us to other strengths. 

A really engaging book, and I’d recommend getting his entire back catalogue from the library and reading those too!

George Monbiot

I’m passionate about the environment, and so is journalist George Monbiot. His book Feral encourages us to re-wild our lives and our landscapes from the sanitised and degraded condition we find them in the 21st century. 

More than just a call to get ourselves back out into nature, Feral is a well-researched and compelling argument about how we need to re-think our approach to conservation.


Matthew Crawford

It’s no secret that I love making things and mending things, and Matthew Crawford’s excellent book is an insight into why this is good for us. As a society we’ve become quite disconnected with how things are made and how to mend things, and this book is an encouragement to develop our skills in this area, exploring how it improves our thinking and versatility in an increasingly technological world.



Christopher McDougall

We all need to be healthier, and rather than join a gym we should all be outside making the most of the natural world around us. Running is such a simple form of exercise, but counter intuitively, cushioned trainers are making us do it all wrong and injuring ourselves! Christopher goes back to basics, exploring bare foot running, and meets some fascinating groups along the way. 

A classic in running related literature, and you may find you shorten your stride length and ditch excess cushioning as a result!

Luke Strickland

At the risk of blowing my own trumpet, Life Space is an excellent book to encourage you to re-connect with those dreams, ambitions and passions that seem to have been left along the wayside while “life” happened. 

It won’t take you all summer to read, and you’ll hopefully be inspired to make room in your life for those things that really matter in the long run. 

Please leave me a nice review as well when you get to the end!


So those are my seven top summer reads, do grab copies from the library, Amazon or wherever, and let me know what you think! What are you reading over the summer? I’d love to know, so leave me a comment below!


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Thanks for taking the time to read Seven Top Summer Reads. If you've enjoyed it please share it with your friends on social media! Why not subscribe to The Potting Shed Podcast on iTunes for the audio version and much more (direct RSS feed is here). Please nominate my podcast for an award during July 2015 - press the big red button here.

I'd love to hear from you, so feel free to comment below or email me at stricklandmusings@gmail.com 

If you want to stay up to date please sign up to my mailing list, and do check out my book Life Space on Amazon.

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My Random Musings