Friday, April 29, 2016

Broken circuits

Have the lights gone out?
Ever feel like whatever you're doing has stopped working? Or maybe the lights have gone out?

Perhaps you're lacking energy for a project or dream you've been working on - like you've suddenly lost power?

Every now and then, for now apparent reason, one of our lightbulbs breaks. Maybe it's just come to the end of it's life. Maybe there was a sudden power surge. Whatever the reason, the result is always the same - no light.

When the filament breaks, the circuit is broken and the connection is lost. The lights go out.

It's funny how such a small thing can have such an effect, but it shows the importance of maintaining the circuit.
"Every now and then, for now apparent reason, one of our lightbulbs breaks."
Similarly, when your appliance breaks, it's tempting just to chuck it out isn't it? It can seem too complicated to be able to fix. But what if the problem is just something tiny? What if it's just a blown fuse? Just like the blown lightbulb, when a fuse blows it breaks the circuit. It's a tiny thing compared to, say, a washing machine - so small it fits neatly into the plug - but small components are just as important as big ones when it comes to creating a working circuit.

Fuses are a form of protection, a defence mechanism really, there to prevent damage (or injury) if there's a surge of electricity. When it comes to our lives, I do wonder whether sometimes it's the small things that cause the lights to go out, that frustrate our goals and dreams - like the filament in a lightbulb or the fuse in the plug.
"Perhaps something's overloaded your system and you've blown a fuse."
Circuit breakers...
When we moved into our current house about five years ago it needed a lot of work. It had been
empty for 6 months, There were no carpets, the kitchen units were falling apart, the windows were single glazed, there was no central heating, and the electrics were in need of some attention.

As soon as we had any electrical work done, the old fuse box needed to be replaced with a set of circuit breakers. These perform a similar function to fuses, although instead of a fuse that needs replacing each time, when the circuit breaker trips all you need to do is reset the switch.

In that sense it's a much more resilient system, but even so it doesn't take much to overload the circuit. A blown light bulb sometimes trips the lighting circuit. When we were having some building work the builder's power tools would also trip the circuit breakers if plugged into the wrong circuit!
"When something in your life goes bang, don't give in to the temptation to chuck your dreams out."
Do you need to change a fuse?
Perhaps something's overloaded your system and you've blown a fuse in your life. Maybe it's disappointment, or hurt, or frustration. That doesn't mean that area of your life is suddenly worthless - your dreams, or craft or gift. Just because it's not working you shouldn't give up on it.

All you need to do is complete the circuit again. Maybe you need to recognise areas of your life that regularly go bang, and install metaphorical circuit breakers - something you can easily switch back on.

When something in your life goes bang, don't give in to the temptation to chuck your dreams out.

We're all wired uniquely, our lives a myriad of components both bug and small. Often it's the small things that cause us to lose connection with the big stuff.

Isn't it usually the case that the most effective and long lasting change in our lives comes from the small stuff? Like Sir Clive Woodwood's principle of seeking marginal gains, improving one hundred things by 1% rather than changing one thing by 100%.

Maybe we simply need to change some fuses in our life, install some circuit breakers for when we're overloaded, so we can get the lights back on and the power flowing more easily. Perhaps it's time to check your wiring, and get any broken life-circuits reconnected again.
"Maybe we simply need to change some fuses in our life..."
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Thanks for taking the time to read Broken Circuits. If you've enjoyed it please share it with your friends on social media! Why not subscribe to The Potting Shed Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher for expanded musings and much more (direct RSS feed is here). 

Don't forget my new book Sight Lines: Clearer Vision, Closer Dreams is now available to download from Amazon, along with my previous book Life Space: Give Your Dreams Room To Grow.

I'd love to hear from you, so feel free to comment below or email me at stricklandmusings@gmail.com, and please sign up to my mailing list - until early May 2016 you'll be in with a chance of winning Lorien Atwood's "Meditations of the Heart" colouring book if you're on my list! 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Starting Fires

A recent fire in our garden...
I've always enjoyed lighting fires. Not arson, I hasten to add - there's just something satisfying in laying up a fire and then seeing it gradually take light.

Growing up I had plenty of practice in fire-lighting, as we had a big open fireplace in our lounge which would often be lit on winter evenings.

I have fond memories of sitting cross legged in the lounge folding sheets of newspaper into zig-zag concertinas on to which I'd then place kindling and small logs before lighting.

The secret, I found, was to set fire to the newspaper in as many places as possible, as this gave the kindling the best chance of taking light, and therefore the fire the best chance of getting going. I learnt my lesson about trying to get a fire going with not enough kindling, or with logs that were too large or too wet. In truth, there's definitely an art to getting a fire burning well.
"I've always enjoyed lighting fires. Not arson, I hasten to add..."
Three key ingredients...
Like any good recipe, you need a few key ingredients for a decent fire. The classic "fire triangle" is fuel, heat and oxygen.

Without any one of these your fire will struggle, and I've learnt my lesson on each ingredient. In the past I've smothered fires with too much fuel, not allowing enough oxygen, and just ended up with a meekly smoking pile.

Alternatively I've not used enough newspaper or kindling to spread the heat. I've used wet wood which just dribbles and smokes, leaving me red-eyed!

I'd add to these three requirements that you also need suitable preparation - you need to lay it up first - and patience, as a blazing fire doesn't happen in an instant.

The reason I'm saying all this is that whatever your side-hustle may be, whatever your passion or craft, I think it's a lot like lighting a fire. Skills aren't acquired overnight and our ambitions or dreams rarely blaze into being fully-formed. Instead we need to start small, lay up some suitably sized kindling that we know will take light, before adding larger or more complex elements to it.
"...whatever your passion or craft, I think it's a lot like lighting a fire..."
I began to think about this comparison a few weeks ago. We'd been tidying our garden, and I'd been sorting through my wood stack - I tend to collect useful pieces of scrap wood for my various making projects, but along the way I'd also acquired plenty of not so useful pieces. So having taking a big load of old chipboard to the tip, I was left with a pile of scrap wood to burn in our fire-pit.

The Jubilee beacon... took a while to light!
My children were desperate to toast marshmallows, and were most disappointed to learn the lesson first hand that fires take a while to light!

Even at public displays it can take longer than planned for a fire to get going. For the Queen's Jubilee a few years ago a big beacon was to be lit on a nearby hill to us. We went and looked at it in the day and it was just a big pile of brush and branches (or at least that's all we could see, maybe it was laid up better underneath).

Unsurprisingly that evening it took a long time to light, by all accounts. We were watching from our upstairs windows in our house, and thought we just couldn't see it when the appointed time came (cue disappointment all round). However, by an hour or two later we could finally see it as the blaze eventually got going.
"What lessons can we apply to our passions and projects from lighting fires?"
So what lessons can we apply to our passions and projects from lighting fires? Well, in the first instance don't try and do too much too soon - overloading a fire smothers it. Don't put all your firewood on in one go - pace yourself! Perhaps you need to split your logs into smaller chunks? If your goal seems too big and overwhelming, can you 'chunk' it down into smaller sections which might 'burn' more easily?

Secondly do allow enough space for your fire to grow. Actual fires need oxygen to circulate, to fan the flames - so can you get your dream out into the open? Is there a way you can create a vent for your work? Perhaps this might be about going along to an open-mic night if you're a musician, or exhibiting your art somewhere, or submitting poems... whatever your passion how can you go public to give it room to breathe and fan the flames further?

Light several places at once..
Thirdly, perhaps you haven't got enough heat! I think this is about working to deadlines - is there some way you can apply some extra heat in that way?

This could be linked to going public - or committing to a regular routine (for instance my promise to you is that I'll write a new blog post each week). How can you heat things up?
"Is there a way you can create a vent for your work?"

In the meantime, have patience, keep folding up your metaphorical newspaper and light several places at once - you never know which part is going to "take" first...

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Thanks for taking the time to read Starting Fires. If you've enjoyed it please share it with your friends on social media! Why not subscribe to The Potting Shed Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher for expanded musings and much more (direct RSS feed is here). 

Don't forget my new book Sight Lines: Clearer Vision, Closer Dreams is now available to download from Amazon, along with my previous book Life Space: Give Your Dreams Room To Grow.

I'd love to hear from you, so feel free to comment below or email me at stricklandmusings@gmail.com, and please sign up to my mailing list - until early May 2016 you'll be in with a chance of winning Lorien Atwood's "Meditations of the Heart" colouring book if you're on my list! 
My Random Musings

Interview with Lorien Atwood

This episode I'm joined in The Potting Shed with 'compulsive doodler' Lorien Atwood, an illustrator behind an internationally popular series of 'grown up' colouring-in books.

You can follow Lorien on Instagram as @lorien_illustrations and the Facebook groups she mentioned were Colouring in Truth and Colouring with God.

To enter the competition to win Lorien's book please sign up to my mailing list. I'll announce the winner in my May 2016 newsletter.

Don't forget my new book Sight Lines: Clearer Vision, Closer Dreams is now available to download from Amazon!

If you're not subscribed to The Potting Shed Podcast via iTunes, Stitcher or any other means then feel free to listen directly below!

If you'd be willing to leave a review of the show the links are here for iTunes and here for the UK Podcast Directory.

To listen to the show via stitcher the link is here.


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sight Lines - The story behind the book...

This week I devoted a whole episode of The Potting Shed Podcast to my latest book Sight Lines: Clearer Vision, Closer Dreams.

I share why I wrote the book, and go into a bit more detail about what it's about.

You can download the book from Amazon, and I'd be really grateful if you did!

If you're not subscribed to The Potting Shed Podcast via iTunes, Stitcher or any other means then feel free to listen directly below!

If you'd be willing to leave a review of the show the links are here for iTunes and here for the UK Podcast Directory.

To listen to the show via stitcher the link is here.


Friday, April 15, 2016

Disney's folly and the power of story.

The famous castle...
My family and I spent some time recently in Florida, and one of our highlights was visiting the various Disney parks. We had a great time at Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Blizzard Beach and Epcot – in fact I don’t think we could have squeezed any more Disney time out of our holiday! (My amazing wife should consider a career in holiday planning, she’s so good at it).

My children are of an age where they are entranced by Disney films and get caught up in the story (in fact I still do too). So as much as we enjoyed the rides, our highlights from visiting Disney were meeting our favourite characters, having photos taken in front of landmarks from the movies, and generally just immersing ourselves in the whole experience.

To this end we had taken plenty of dressing up and had various themed tee-shirts printed – something we had fun wearing and which elicited plenty of fun comments from the various cast members (Disney staff) around.
"My children are of an age where they are entranced by Disney films..."
I wonder whether the popularity of the parks is an example of the power of ‘story’. I read a fascinating history of Walt Disney before we left, and a hallmark of the various Disney cartoons over the years is the strong emphasis on the narrative. We get sucked in to powerful stories, and we can relate to the emotions displayed on the screen. We laugh, we cry (every time when watching Frozen) – we identify and we remember.

The inscription at the entrance to Magic Kingdom
Stories are powerful things which transport us and connect us together. Visiting the Disney parks there’s a powerful sense of shared experience, especially when you’re dressed up!

It’s funny how the things we most readily remember or identify with Disney are the feature length animated cartoons that have been produced since the 1940s. You’ve probably got a favourite few. Perhaps it’s Jungle Book, or Aladdin, or the Lion King, or the Little Mermaid, or Frozen.

Perhaps Disney’s strongest legacy is the rich history of animated films. But funnily enough, this was the idea for which Disney was ridiculed in the early days.
"Stories are powerful things which transport us and connect us together."
Disney’s early success was through short cartoons, maybe ten minutes long, which were well received by film goers in the 1920s and 1930s. He won Oscars for his characters, even then, but he had a vision for creating a full length animated film. This vision would take him years, and would require Disney studios to invent groundbreaking new ways of animating. It was so complicated to realise Walt’s vision that Snow White took much longer to produce than planned.

The media began to lose faith that this would happen. The idea for a feature length animated film became known as “Disney’s Folly”. Journalists tried watching ten animated shorts back to back to try and imagine what a feature film would be like, and published their lack of belief in the result. It seemed that no one apart from Walt Disney could imagine what a full length cartoon movie would be like.
"The idea for a feature length animated film became known as 'Disney’s Folly'..."
We love Mickey!
But finally in 1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released, a gripping, beautifully animated story displaying the whole range of human emotion and character. This was truly a game changing moment, and Disney’s folly turned into Disney’s triumph. Now it seems hard not to imagine watching animated films, they are so central a part of our culture.

So what can we learn from Disney? Well, we can be reminded that stories are powerful, and that no matter what field we’re in, we can utilise the power of story to better communicate our ideas. We can also be inspired to write the best story of our own lives, taking heart from Disney’s folly – just because no one seemed to believe in Walt’s dream, that didn’t mean his dream wasn’t worth pursuing.

It’s usually the visionaries that see things that the rest of us can’t. And if those around you can’t see your dreams in the same way you can then you’re in good company. By the end he had won everyone over. He just needed to create the best story he could and that drew people in. So don’t let anyone rob you of your dreams – the world needs your vision.
"It’s usually the visionaries that see things that the rest of us can’t."
Seeing our dreams more clearly is the subject of my new book Sight Lines: Clearer Vision, Closer Dreams. Do download a copy now for more inspiration and encouragement to develop a more compelling vision for your dreams. 

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Thanks for taking the time to read Disney's folly and the power of story. If you've enjoyed it please share it with your friends on social media! Why not subscribe to The Potting Shed Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher for expanded musings 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.

My Random Musings

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Potting Shed Podcast, Season 2: Episode 14

In this episode Luke expands on why routines, rhythms and habit are good for us, as well as big news on his latest book Sight Lines which is now available to download here.

Luke mentions The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Feriss and How to Be Here by Rob Bell, along with an episode of the podcast James Talks.

If you'd be willing to leave a review of the show the links are here for iTunes and here for the UK Podcast Directory.

To listen to the show via stitcher the link is here


Sunday, April 03, 2016

Potting Shed Podcast - Season 2, Episode 13

This week I'm reflecting on the interviews over the past few episodes for Maker Month, and why I ran Maker Month in the first place. Also I share an update on how close I am to releasing my new book!

Listen in directly below!

If you'd be willing to leave a review of the show the links are here for iTunes and here for the UK Podcast Directory.

To listen to the show via stitcher the link is here.


Friday, March 25, 2016

The Idea In You

This week in The Potting Shed I was joined by Alex Pellew and Martin Amor, authors of the fantastic book The Idea In You.

They've got loads of great insight into how we can develop those ideas we all have inside of us.

To check out their fantastic Creator Community click here.

If you're not subscribed to The Potting Shed Podcast via iTunes, Stitcher or any other means then feel free to listen directly below!

If you'd be willing to leave a review of the show the links are here for iTunes and here for the UK Podcast Directory.

To listen to the show via stitcher the link is here.