Category: Commentary

Creativity Through Limiting Choice and Embracing​ Constraints

Have you ever wondered how Picasso or van Gogh painted masterpieces on such a small canvas? How could they be so creative within such limited space?

Technology has come so far so fast that there’s little incentive to be creative with so many resources available. Sometimes those resources are so plentiful that they can be overwhelming. 

Think about something as simple as taking a picture of a child playing with a ball. Before the age of photo imaging, pictures were innocent, and with that innocence came creativity. The shot was snapped, and candid memories were treasured. Today, it’s hard to see a photo that hasn’t been altered in some way. There’s no need to worry about how the picture will come out because whatever is needed will happen with a computer and a photo editing program. 

Imagine taking a step back in time to when simplicity bred creativity. It can happen for you, and we’ll explain how.

Embrace Constraints 

Have you ever watched a toddler open a present on Christmas morning? So often, the contents, which are often toys, are tossed aside, and the child will stay occupied for hours playing with the box. My seven-year-old son still does this as he likes turning boxes into robots. There can be many shiny, new toys surrounding the child that remain untouched as the box is center-focus.

If all of the toys were removed, and all that was left was a large box, what would the child do? Most likely, they will climb inside and pretend it’s a truck, a spaceship, or even a robot. With or without many options, a child will limit his or her choice by choosing the most imaginative. 

Practical Techniques to Improve Your Self-Motivation

Lack of motivation is something most everyone has experienced at some time in their lives. We can often jump into action if we are prompted by someone else, but when it comes to self-motivation, we must be both the motivator and the motivatee. 

Practical techniques to improve your self-motivation by Stephen Haunts

This isn’t always easy, as we can be prone to procrastination and, let’s face it, laziness. True, we can be too lazy to do something we need to do. It’s so much easier to ask someone else or convince ourselves that it’s not worth the effort to perform a specific task or go to a particular place. 

I should write a book, but I doubt anyone would read it. 

I’d love to become an teacher, but going back to college… no way. 

The boss wants me to represent him at the award ceremony tonight, but I’d probably say or do something stupid.

I’m too tired to go to the gym today. Maybe tomorrow. 

Demotivators are continually looking for an excuse to avoid doing what they need to do to succeed, to reach their goals, or to simply do something or go somewhere. As shown in the above examples, there can be varying reasons for a lack of motivation. Whether it’s a headache or other physical ailment, a lack of self-confidence, or a lack of desire, you’ve probably been guilty of at least one instance of demotivation. 

We all have. And that’s why this article was written. We’ll explore some tips and techniques that will help you to get up and go, do the unthinkable, and conquer the world. 

Okay, so maybe you won’t conquer the world, but you can conquer your world. So, let’s get started!

Understanding Interpersonal Relationships

If you are interested in improving your interpersonal relationships at work but have always found it difficult, then you might like my Pluralsight course, Building Healthy Interpersonal Relationships at Work, where I talk about how to build, and maintain effective relationships, how to manage conflict and how to increase diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Having a great day at work is one of the top ways to boost your mood and self-confidence. When things are going right in the workplace, you feel a sense of security that just cannot be duplicated elsewhere. Most of us need this type of workplace stability to become successful and productive. If you have ever felt that you love your job and you don’t mind the work involved, but there is still something out of place, consider the relationships that you have built with your coworkers. Interpersonal connections are essential in your daily life, and this includes your professional side.

Understanding Interpersonal Relationships by Stephen Haunts

When you work in an environment where you feel that you can be heard and understood, you are more likely to succeed. Those with hostile work environments tend to not only be more stressed out on an average daily basis but also find ways to take this stress out on loved ones or other uninvolved people. Getting along with your coworkers and supervisors can make all the difference between a great day and a terrible one.

Consider the way that you communicate with your peers. Is the interaction healthy? Productive? Do you feel that you lack something? This course is meant to help you dissect your interpersonal relationships at work while striving toward more robust connections. 

Review of the Peak Design Tech Pouch

When I travel to conferences or workshop I have a whole heap of cables, adapters, and tools that I use on my trips and in my everyday working life. When I upgraded my everyday carry bag to the Peak Design Everyday Backpack, I also became aware of the Peak Design Tech Pouch.

In the following video, I do a review and an unpacking of my kit to show you how much space is in this tech pouch.

Available from Amazon.com

Available for Amazon.co.uk

Review of the Peak Design 30L Everyday Backpack

For a few years I have been searching for the idea laptop bag and everyday carry mobile office. I have wanted something strong, stylist, and robust enough to service lots of travelling on trains and planes. I have tried many bags that almost fit the bill, but they all seem to fall short. That is until I discovered the Peak Design 30L Everyday Backpack.

I have recorded a video review that contains all my thoughts on this bag, but essentially I have found my perfect bag. It isn’t a cheap bag by any stretch, but it fits the bill perfectly and feels like it will last for years to come.

Available from Amazon.com

Available from Amazon.co.uk

I am now a Microsoft MVP

A few weeks ago, I was awarded the Microsoft MVP award. The MVP award is recognition for the community work I perform in teaching people about different software development subjects using Microsoft tools, such as .NET and Azure.

To get the award, I had to be nominated by another MVP. Once the nomination happened, I was invited onto a website where I had to detail everything I had done community wise over the past 12 months. My community contributions include user group and conference talks, open-source contributions, free workshops, and co-running a software development user-group.

It is a big honour to receive the award, and I am very grateful to be nominated and to receive it. Recipients of the award get many benefits, including access to all Microsoft software to use for free, credits to use towards our Azure subscriptions, access to training through Linkedin Learning, Xamarin University, and many other benefits. We also get a beautiful glass statue award and a framed certificate to display in our offices. The one advantage I am looking forward to, though, is attending the MVP Summit at the Microsoft Campus in Redmond next March. At the summit, all the MVPs get together, and Microsoft tells us what they are working on. Because of this, we have to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement so that we don’t release any information early. It’s great that we get to see what’s coming and have some feedback into the process by talking directly to the teams building the software.

On my daughter’s request, I made a YouTube unboxing video of the award. According to her, as a 10-year-old YouTube expert, no-one reads blogs, and I need to do an unboxing video. You can see above if you are interested in seeing what comes in the award box.

MVP awards are reassessed every year. To keep getting the award benefits, I have to continue doing what I am doing by helping people in the software development community. I think this should be easy to do as I love teaching people. I feel I have always had a skill for taking complex subjects and making them easy to understand, which is why I do well-produced training for Pluralsight.

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Four years ago, my friend and I got leadership jobs in the same international company. The work was interesting and paid well. Often, our immediate boss appointed my friend to lead us in departmental tasks. My friend didn’t like that and complained about the responsibilities she’d been given, though she received praise for her work.

Nevertheless, my friend continued to insist that she was unhappy with the work, and even went so far as to say that she thought her leadership was a fraud and would be noticed one day. She claimed that some of us were more qualified and therefore should be doing the work instead. One time, she actually asked our boss, point blank, to remove her from a leadership role, stating that she didn’t feel qualified to lead this particular team. That very move, acknowledging her weaknesses, made her a leader in many eyes, but she still didn’t see it.  She just wasn’t aware of her competent leadership and result-oriented management. 

For one particular task, my friend did endless research and spent hours coming up with strategies. On consecutive mornings, we would find her in the office, compiling presentations. That moment spurred me to do some research and learn more about her mindset. What was driving her to think this way? Maybe I could help her learn to feel more self-confident in her abilities.

What I found was fascinating! I stumbled upon a psychological problem known as “Imposter Syndrome.” I studied various types, as well as strategies on how to overcome it. Later, I shared all my results with my friend and she had a significant breakthrough, learning to own her abilities and putting them to good use which much less fear.The following post details the information found during my research. I believe that the post here will go a long way to helping you better understand Imposter Syndrome. Furthermore, you will understand how it appears in different personality types and will learn how to cope with it.

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