MonthFebruary 2017

The Spaghetti Challenge

Today I had the pleasure of assisting at a STEM event, this time helping run the workshop – as the group was coordinated around an engineering theme, we decided to put them through their paces with the spaghetti challenge.


With 3 groups of 20 children, I think the main thing I learnt from running the workshops is that even with only two items – spaghetti and marshmallows – kids manage to create a huge mess!

That aside, this is actually a fantastic exercise to observe. Take one group, split into 5 teams and each team will follow different tactics; build fast, plan a lot, work individually and so on. The variety is huge, yet when you repeat with group 2, the patterns repeat! Again, one group will build fast, another will plan for half the time and another won’t talk to one another.

I’m not sure I can say that just one tactic was proven to be the best as each winning team behaved differently. However, as an outsider is extremely interesting to watch to see the teamwork behaviours, to see how they react when the tower falls and to see how keen they are to win or if they just want to eat the marshmallows.

As an overall study, it has been used time and time again to good effect. I will let this video explain that side of it 🙂


Comparison – should we do it?

Should we compare ourselves with others?

A quick google search and you’re met with the top 10 results, all titled and aimed towards providing tips on how you can, or should, stop comparing yourself to others.

It’s a principle and life secret that gets passed on to us as pearls of wisdom. “It’s dangerous” we’re told, “it can only make you value yourself less”. And I get, I’ve felt negatively when comparing myself to others. We only see their success and we interpret that to mean we’re failing. We wish we were doing what they were doing, achieved what they achieved, and so on.

It can lead to low confidence and lack of drive. But why do we have to have these results? Can’t we compare for the sake of good? Can’t we compare in a safer environment to help us? Yes we can! We just need to stop getting so caught up on the instant position and competition.

I still find myself constantly comparing myself to others. Sometimes I might think “my god I wish had done that” and for that moment I might be annoyed or disappointed. But then I realise, I can do that… so let’s do it. I can use comparison as a way of finding ideas for things to do or try. If I haven’t achieved something I haven’t even tried to achieve, I shouldn’t feel negatively when someone else achieves it.

It is also a good accountability check if you choose the right people. Find someone that might be comparing themselves with you. When they appear to be doing something better, remind yourself that they might be thinking exactly the same about you and instead of feeling inferior, you can feel equal yet ready to improve in some way.

You need to look past the instant competition facing you and use comparison as a tool to determine your next steps -and always remember there are many people admiring plenty of things about you!

Sharpen The Saw

I recently finished the book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’. There are many books that attempt to explain the secret to success, sometimes coming across far too practical; if you don’t for X or Y you won’t achieve Z. Whilst others are too vague and ‘spiritual’, giving no tangible actions – this book seemed to find the balance!

The book tells stories, gives examples, and provide frameworks to help understand and implement the habits. The whole book was very interesting; sometimes obvious, other times eye opening.

There’s one habit I want to talk about, habit 7: Sharpening the Saw.

Image result for sharpen the saw 7 habits

Essentially this habit is the ability to take a step back and re-charge to become for effective. The analogy is a workman sawing away at a tree. He is in the zone and working 100% efficiently, however, the saw it blunt. Someone suggests he stop and sharpen the saw. Scared of breaking his rhythm he angrily refuses, exclaiming he may never be as efficient again if he were to stop. Yet if he sharpened the blunt saw, he could chop down the tree in half the time, even with a slower motion. The principle makes sense!

However, there is another reason this habit sticks in my mind so clearly. A quote from Gary Vaynerchuk on ‘meditation and mindfulness’. (Jump to 21min 50sec)

Doesn’t this sound exactly like the workman? Or perhaps Gary really is superhuman 🙂


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