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  • Writer's pictureKarl Walker-Finch

Do you reach for the stars or grab the low hanging fruit?





Do you reach for the stars or grab the low hanging fruit?



Having the right mindset seems to come up a lot these days but what does this even mean?


I think we can agree it’s not really to do with IQ.


Maybe it’s more to do with EQ, but I’m still not convinced how useful either of these “quotients” are.


We know when someone has a negative mindset, and we know when someone seems to have a positive one, but is flat out positivity really the best possible mindset.


In The Chimp Paradox, Prof Steve Peters tells us that we must “aim for the stars and you may be happy if you only get to the moon.”


Ok, so that might work for some, but what if your starting point is one of low confidence. The failure to reach the stars may be more catastrophic than the benefits of reaching the moon, to stretch the Prof’s galactic metaphor.


What if you’ve lived a life of very few wins, one in which taking small wins may help improve your mindset.


In Oliver Burkeman’s (he of Four Thousand Weeks) latest blog he takes the opposite stance by telling us of his aim, as a full time professional (real) writer, unlike some bit part operator like me, is to start writing by 1030am each day. Of course, he often starts much earlier, but 1030 is his minimum acceptable standard on those days when every possible piece of proverbial has hit the fan, if he can still get started by 1030, then he can take that victory that he’s still hit that target.


On those other days, the “normal” days, when he gets going by 730am, he’s got a 3 hour head start. Another cause for celebration.


But can aiming so low really be the right solution, does that not reflect a lack of ambition, a lack of commitment.


Who’s right? Should we aim ridiculously high and hope that where we reach is at worst, pretty good, or do we aim embarrassingly low and build our confidence with the small wins? Both Peters and Burkeman are best selling authors, both books are hugely popular, yet their philosophies seem to be more dichotomous.


I had this dilemma when writing my book. I want to inspire a positive mindset, a productive one, one that will empower people to fulfil their potential, but who am I to tell anyone how to do this?


I drew inspiration from both sides and I wanted to share the influence that both these books, and the hundreds of others, have had on me, yet without contradicting myself.


The resolution I came to was simply that I had to share my experiences, my stories, what has and hasn’t worked for me. To share the benefits of Burkeman’s thinking in time management, and Prof Peters’ in building self-confidence.


The aim was not to tell everyone the absolute definitive way to live, but so hopefully, through my writing, I can challenge some preconceptions, encourage some deeper thought, and perhaps allow people to pick out a few tools and techniques that fit their world view and can help them flourish.


There is no single right mindset. There is no one true path which we all must follow, only a range of tools to collect and the tools everyone needs will be slightly different. Perhaps though, you may find one or two of my tools help you.


In The Loupe is still selling well by the way. We’ve managed to raise over £2000 for Confidental so far, if you’ve still not got yourself a copy, you can buy it here.



Sorry to those of you hoping for a profound lyric here from Reach for the Stars by S Club 7.


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