quick thought

Taking Your Own Advice

Whatever job you have, there are lots of things that you will recognise as being “the worst part of the job”. There’s never just one thing, there’s only whatever the thing is when you think of it. In what I think of as my day job, facilitating and delivering workshops to researchers, things that I have thought of as the worst part of the job have included:

  • interrupting people to move on to the next discussion/activity in a workshop;
  • travelling long distances;
  • being away from my daughter;
  • doubt about whether or not you’re connecting with a quiet room.

Today I have a new one: not taking my own advice.

quick thought

A new acronym for habit-building

One of the great things about the kind of job that I have is that I often have time to think and time to play – not video games or role-playing games, although I must have mentioned by now at least once that I like to do both of those – but to play in the sense of trying things out. Trying things out to see what happens. Being my own boss and doing the kinds of things that I do for work gives me a great degree of freedom.

Like this blog: I write when I want, I try to stick to a schedule (although, hello, it’s been a month or so since I posted!) and I write about things that interest me and hope that they interest you too.

Last week I was working with my good friend Dr Aimee Blackledge on a First Year Development Workshop. Aimee talked a little about habits, and this got me thinking, because I also knew that we were going to spend some time on the workshop introducing tools and ideas that are bound up in acronyms for shorthand. I wondered, was there a good little acronym just waiting to be discovered for habits?

I think there was! It hit me some time during the day and I shared it with the cohort of 24 postgraduate researchers, and got feedback quickly that this was a neat little tool for thinking about habits as agents of positive change.

creative thinking quick thought

Heuristic Ideation Technique

I’ve had a little time off from working on my second book on the viva (coming soon!), and this has given me some time to check through my records. I’ve been a skills trainer since September 2008, and have accumulated a lot of stuff – some of it is worth keeping and refreshing myself on – some of it I’ve been happy to chuck into the recycling bin in the last few weeks.

I recently found my notes from a workshop that I ran for Vitae a couple of years ago. The session was on blogging and social media, but the idea that jumped back to the forefront for me was the icebreaker for the day’s workshop, which we used as a way to get people thinking of ideas for blog posts. The process is called Heuristic Ideation Technique:

Heuristic Ideation Technique, which I saw first in Gamestorming.
Heuristic Ideation Technique, which I saw first in Gamestorming.
quick thought

Two Questions

They’ve been rattling around in my head these last few days.

I used the first one at a workshop last week, after reading it an article of questions that coaches use to get the best from people. I used it because I like the language of it, but in musing on it, I think there is a second question that has to come after it.

The first question is “what excites you?” For me, it’s playing games, of all kinds – board games, card games, dice games, role-playing games, computer games. I should probably qualify that: playing games with people for all but computer and video games (I like playing video games by myself).

I used this question just as a springboard to get people talking, and only afterwards did I think that there is a question which has to come after this one, at some point, maybe not immediately, but it is there and it is necessary. The second question is “what do you need to do to get more of what excites you?

And that’s hard… But it’s what I’m thinking about at the moment.

Thanks for reading – if these questions resonate with you, please comment!

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)


Time & The PhD

I was thinking

One day, I got a piece of paper and tried to figure out how long I spent on my PhD. This was because of the oft-repeated idea of the 10,000 hour rule that people attribute to Malcolm Gladwell, i.e., to truly become an expert you have to spend 10,000 hours of practice at it. Having completed a PhD, was I now an expert? If I could figure out how many hours I spent on the PhD, then perhaps I would have an answer!

I wasn’t being entirely serious, but it was interesting to me. So I got a piece of paper and started doing maths.


STAR – Evaluate Your Strengths

Does anyone reading this like being interviewed?

How many times have you sat in an interview and not known what to say? On the few occasions when I have been in an interview, I felt uncomfortable when I was asked “about a time that I worked well in a team,” or “showed leadership” or “solved a problem”. I knew of times that I had been in those situations, but didn’t know what to say about them really… Something good, that shows me in a good light – but what?

Or have you ever been in a situation where you’ve wanted to be part of a project but not known how to convince others that you’re the one for them?

STAR is for you.