The Power of Travelling

“The world is a book, and those who do no travel read only one page.”

Living in the 21st century the opportunity to see the world has never been greater. A quick search now tells me that the furthest city from my home town of Edinburgh is Dunedin, New Zealand. For less than £1000 I could go. Not that I have a spare grand lying around, but it’s very much saveable. For that price I would be able to see the full influence of travel in the world with Dunedin taking its name by the old name for Edinburgh and actually being modelled on Scotland’s capital. The perfect opportunity to see the real influence of human adventure over the years. Around 60’000 years ago humans first ventured out of Africa to all corners of the globe. With this brought visible changes to the world and the start of how we can change our planet; for good and for bad. Since then we have seen the rise and fall of many, many empires and changes in power and religion but this is all done by the natural human impulse to travel and explore.

Working for Tree of Knowledge allows me the opportunity to see parts of my country I would have never seen before. Couple with my personal travels, I am now lucky enough to have visited places like Laurencekirk and Los Angeles, Dunblane and Durban, Shettleston and the Shetlands or even Bradford and Bangkok. The incredible thing about this is that no matter where I venture, these places go back to how they were after the briefest of moments in each other’s company.

Or do they? I’ve always been a believer that places and travelling changes who we are but we also change the places we go. Seeing the extreme poverties in a South African township allowed me to experience a level of empathy previously unknown. The affluent Orange County in California afforded me a heightened, and slightly materialistic, ambition usually out of character for me. These places have undoubtedly changed me but they’re just places. Some of them have long lasting cultures, all weird and wonderful in their own way but you just have to look at Dubai over the last 20 years to see the massive impact humans continue to have on the world. So instead of this idea of going through life to try and ‘find yourself’, why not go through life and build who you are? Allow yourself to take small parts of the places you go to learn and grow. Leave your mark and take from it what you can.

Beyond this, remember that you shape the places you visit too, so think about how you do this and the effect this has on the next visitor. Above all, don’t litter.

 

Stuart Fenwick (@StuFenwick7)

Motivational Speaker at Tree of Knowledge (tree_of)

Anti-Fragility

My favourite villain is probably The Joker from Batman. Specifically, Heath Ledger’s famous performance in The Dark Knight. There is just something captivating about his obsession with chaos, disorder, and anarchy.

That positive impression of disorder is very much limited to the movie. Outside of that, most of us will agree that we prefer a more straightforward, ‘normal’ life.

This is mainly because when some sort of shock happens to an object or a person there are various paths it can take. If someone manages to come through an impactful event as strong as they were before, this is called resilient. And it is praised.

But we can also grow weaker due to a shock and this is what we would label fragility. However, there was (until recently) no terminology for something that benefits from shocks; to thrive from volatility.

Whilst there is a lot to be taken from resilience, there is no doubt that growing stronger is better than staying the same. So, we needed a word for it.

Various things happened on November 27th 2012. Micky Baker, the American guitarist, passed away. I turned 24 (and definitely felt fragile the next day). And Nassim Nicholas Taleb released a book titled ‘Antifragile: Things that gain from Disorder.’

 

“…a property of systems that increase in capability, resilience of robustness as a result of stressors, shocks, volatility, noise, mistakes, faults, attacks of failures.”

 

The official definition above represents Taleb’s background in the financial trading industry. A lot of his previous work tore up many of the automatically accepted beliefs of the world of money and stocks. He was the Little Red Riding Hood to the big, bad wolves of Wall Street.

This work was a continuation of his previous books, but this time with an excellent crossover with life outside of the financial world. It represented a philosophy we could apply to everyday life. Although he does not see himself as a philosopher or as a poet he describes economics as a tragedy.

There are many examples of anti-fragility throughout history. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Thomas Edison claimed he didn’t invent the light bulb straight away. Instead he found ‘10’000 ways that don’t work.’ After 30 rejections, Stephen King threw the manuscript of his first novel in the bin. It was his wife’s retrieval that gave us Carrie.

If you want more feel free to search for stories about Elvis Presley, Vincent van Gogh, Oprah Wimphrey, Fred Astaire, Albert Einstein… The list goes on.

It’s an old cliché to talk about bouncing back from failure and demonstrating resilience. However, staying the same isn’t enough for a lot of us who really want to achieve something in life. Even after a big event in life, we want to move forward.

Bad exam results, not getting into university, failing to get a promotion, or ending a relationship can all seem upsetting at the time. With enough determination and the proper attitude, we can genuinely turn these things on their head. It’s a step beyond resilience. Resilience 2.0 if you like.

As manager of the English football club Crystal Palace, Iain Dowie was once ridiculed for using the word ‘bouncebackability’ to praise his players’ staging a dramatic comeback. There was a campaign launched to get the word added to the dictionary resulting in a lot of laughs from football fans. Little did Dowie realise that the concept he was eluding to was one of great significance.

Life can be difficult, throwing up various obstacles along the way. There’s no reason we can’t run faster after jumping a hurdle.

And yes, yes, I’m well aware Little Red Riding Hood didn’t actually beat the wolf. It was the woodsman. However, having read the story for the first time since childhood recently, it’s really quite gruesome. Fortunately for me, despite the impact of the story, I was able to get over it and come out stronger afterwards.

 

Stuart Fenwick (@StuFenwick7)

Motivational Speaker at Tree of Knowledge (@tree_of)

Benefit Mindset: A collective thinking movement

Most people working in education will have already been introduced to the Growth Mindset (the belief in potential/we can grow). Along with that they will have been introduced to the Fixed Mindset (our abilities are pre-determined and cannot change). This work from Carol Dweck has caused a massive amount of change and discussion in education all over the world, and as with any piece of work it has opened the possibility of new concepts, new ideas and new theories. Here at Tree of Knowledge we find some of these ideas good, some bad and some that blow our mind. Falling very much into the latter category, this blog is to introduce to you the Benefit Mindset.

 

While the Growth and Fixed Mindset seem very much in contrast with each other, the Benefit Mindset introduces a completely different angle; allowing us to use this approach alongside the oft-desired Growth Mindset. And the way to introduce it really is as simple as this:

 

The Fixed Mindset focuses on what we know and what we don’t know.

The Growth Mindset looks at how we learn.

The Benefit Mindset looks at why we do what we do.

 

Study of the original mindsets offer us so much in terms of ourselves and our achievements, but this new concept asks us to focus on the bigger picture and the role we play in it. It’s not just about making the world a better place, it’s very much how we can make the world a better place. The aspiration is ‘not to be the best in the world but to be the best for the world.’ Building on Dweck’s work, personal wellbeing can play a part in a collective wellbeing.

 

Looking specifically at education, there is an undoubted advantage to handing facts down from generation to generation as this creates advancements in healthcare, science, engineering, architecture etc. However, the need to develop a world that is more aware of their strengths and how that can help us and everyone around us is becoming increasingly recognised. Add this to the possibility of a more caring and compassionate world of love, peace and tolerance and we see just why the Benefit Mindset is so special.

 

“The purpose of life is to discover your gifts; the meaning of life is to give your gifts away”

David Viscott

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value”

Albert Einstein

 

 

Put simply, the Benefit mindset is concerned with the wellbeing of the self and our role in collective wellbeing. It is a more emotion focused view on success and happiness in life. Given that happiness is an emotion, it is incredible to think that this wasn’t the first mindset discussed. However, as is a common theme with mental health, we took our time recognising its significance.

 

Whilst the quotes above and concepts such as ‘start with why’ (Simon Sinek) have existed for a long time and are very well credited, this provides another easily-accessible way to look at holistic development in children and adults all over the world. Although Benefit Mindset might sound like a scaremongering headline in the Daily Mail, the impact it can have in and out of education should not be underestimated. It doesn’t just give us a new way to achieve success as many self-help articles out there aim to do; this gives us a whole new definition of success and what that means in life.

 

We live in a world where each and every generation has the ability to build upon an existing platform of knowledge. Once we learn what there is to know about sciences, maths, engineering, medicine, and everything else, we have the opportunity to add to that before passing it on. Yet we still live in a world lacking in confidence, compassion, and happiness; yes of course they exist but we need more! The Benefit Mindset can help encourage people to become smarter, wiser, and most importantly happier. This new mindset can fix the Fixed Mindset, Grow the Growth mindset and Benefit all of us.

 

Stuart Fenwick (@StuFenwick7)

Motivational Speaker at Tree of Knowledge (@tree_of)