The problem with perfection

I read an interesting book last year called FYI: For Your Improvement, courtesy of my long lost Sri Lankan brother Udhara and his experience of a lifetime working at Apple.

Not just interesting, mind blowing. It completely changed my perception of myself and the world around me. I suddenly felt a much smaller man.

But I think I needed it.

My whole life I’ve existed as a self-professed perfectionist; embracing the psychology of perfectionism in everything I do.

I can happily spend hours shifting words around on a page, fiddling with colours and formatting in spreadsheets. Meticulously making sure every pixel is in its place.

I’ve always felt perfection is something to embrace, something to strive for. It produces wonder and beauty in all facets of life – from art to business and everything between. One of the finest qualities of all, perfectionism is a well-honed skill to take pride in.

You get the picture.

But actually, as this book from Udhara made me realise, perfectionism can be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. An excuse born from fear. The scapegoat that saves you from facing up to the possibility of failure, to stick with the farmyard animal references.

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Why I expect more

One of the big things I’ve learned about myself over the years is that I expect a lot from people.

At times, I can be critical beyond what may seem fair or reasonable; unforgiving to the point of heartless. But sometimes, what might seem cruel is actually the kindest thing you can do for a person.

Whether between strangers, friends, lovers, or colleagues, one thing there’s often not enough of in this world is honesty.

True honesty can be brutal, at times unexpected and even earth shattering. But it can also be beautiful, liberating and insightful; life changing for the better.

There is nothing in this world more frustrating and upsetting to me than to see potential being wasted. Each of us is born with our own unique personality, talents, skills – the things that define our capacity to understand, engage with and impact the world around us.

What we choose to make with these building blocks is the essence of life and reality as we know it.

To knowingly waste your God-given gifts is practically a crime against life itself.

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A few things I remember about 2014

Man, I’m exhausted.

2014 was a year of so many firsts, lasts, and in-betweens that I’ve lost count.

The past 3 years since adopting the status of full-time entrepreneur have definitely been challenging ones. But I can honestly say that the last one was far and away the most difficult of my life.

Interestingly enough, I’ve managed to reduce my working week by a few hours each year since 2012; a good sign for sure, despite the magnitude of the various forces acting upon my time climbing to an all-time high last year.

Anyway, enough with the cryptic commentary. Let me tell you about my year.

2014 began with an almighty hangover, a sizeable chunk missing from the front of my left leg (and also my recollection of the previous night), and a violent dose of flu germs – evoked by an almighty New Year’s binge in Krabi, Thailand. The net result of which was a pretty cool scar and some lifelong memories with my two best friends and business partners, and our most favourite Thai lady.

When the hangover eventually wore off and the year cheekily popped its head out, Bonsey Jaden was just a wailing newborn baby, with Daniel and I being employees number 1 and 2.

We thought two years of startup life in Sydney had somewhat prepared us, but in fact we had absolutely no idea what we were in for.

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Restlessness and Cupid

After a long, restless night spent battling with the air conditioner for a happy medium between sweat-drenched and bone-dry, I announced at 5am to the mostly inanimate objects in my room that I was no longer interested in sleeping.

Instead, I got up and did something I rarely do. I went for a walk – or perhaps more accurately, a recreational walk.

I’ve lived in Singapore for close to a year now, though in some ways I’ve hardly lived here a day. Work, work, work; the pile of virtual paperwork never seems to end.

But today will be different.

Sort of…

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8 lessons I learned from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

I’m going to start out by taking a little contradictory dump on the title of this blog and saying that I don’t actually believe in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (‘CFS’ for short).

Just like Fibromyalgia and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (and probably plenty of other things with which I haven’t yet been diagnosed), ‘CFS’ is nothing more than a label that gets slapped onto a person once the doctor is all out of ideas.

It doesn’t actually provide any insight or solve the actual problems; it’s kind of like saying, “Congratulations sir, you have a headache. I can’t tell you why you have a headache, but here’s a couple of Panadols to help you forget about it for a while.”

If you would be so kind as to humour me for the next few minutes, the quotation marks indicating my indignance to the term CFS are now implied.

End rant.

Now let me tell you my story…

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Lost in the now

It’s difficult to describe, this place that I’m in.

I’m speaking of a place in time more than on a map, though that’s hardly a surprise considering how much I’ve been YouTubing quantum mechanics before bed lately.

The physical ‘where’ is easy – I’m in Singapore. It says so right here.

My Maps app agrees.

Though given the bad map rap Apple’s gotten in the past, I still have my doubts.

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Her name was Singapore

<<< Continued from ‘Confessions of an addict

At face value life is often completely random. Just a bunch of irrelevant things happening all around.

But sometimes irrelevance is the most delicious appetiser of all.

After being introduced to some business contacts in Singapore by a good friend and manager of one of Jaden Social’s flagship music clients, Daniel and I made the trek over to Singapore to meet with them in person and discuss potential opportunities.

The two gentlemen we met with have spent many, many years doing business in Asia and around the world and were, at the very least, excited by the potential of digital opportunities in Singapore and beyond.

One of the two, Jonathan, has been running a real-world design and branding agency called Bonsey Design for the past 20 years, and in the process has worked with some of Asia’s biggest brands.

In this time Bonsey Design has built an incredibly reputable brand and done a lot of really timeless work. But this great work has always come to a grinding halt at the intersection of real world and digital.

Enter Bonsey Jaden.

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Confessions of an addict

I like starting things. It’s an addiction.

It’s my addiction.

It’s that exciting honeymoon phase in a new relationship, or that steep bell curve of progress when first learning a new language. It’s those blissful, adrenaline-fuelled moments of a spontaneous decision, before reality kicks in; before rationality and familiarity take charge.

Some people call it risk, I prefer to call it opportunity. It helps me to justify my intermittent stupidity.

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Checking in

Man, it’s been something like 5 weeks since I last sat down to write; although it actually seems slightly closer to a lifetime than a month.

When I started this blog I remember making a silent promise to myself to take good care of it; not let it gather dust like so, so many things I started before it. Oops…

The truth is I just couldn’t decide where to head to after my last efforts, literarily speaking. And it’s definitely not for lack of material, considering I’ve been frolicking around Singapore so long that it’s beginning to feel like home (3 weeks, according to the stamp in my passport).

My problem right now is actually quite the opposite of that – rather, too many things to write about. A lame excuse for procrastination I know, but rest assured I am feeling sufficiently guilty at this moment.

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Celebrate the wins

Working in a start-up is hard.

It’s mentally challenging, physically exhausting, and often demoralising. And this is despite being constantly surrounded and supported by my three best friends.

I don’t know how people can do it alone.

One thing we all learned very quickly is that the work never stops coming. And unless you find someone else capable of doing it, the buck always stops with you.

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