My Silver Bullet

What is a Silver Bullet?

A bullet made of silver, supposedly the only weapon that could kill a werewolf. Or it could be a seemingly magical solution to a complicated problem?
silver bullet
I think that many of us are looking for Silver Bullets. I want one that makes me lose lots of weight overnight. The country wants a bullet that gives us Brexit, but only if we can trade on the same terms as when we are  in the EU  and it must give us freedom to trade wherever we like. Everyone I know seems to want the silver bullet for staying young.
20 years ago, Mike Lombardo and Bob Eichinger wrote The Leadership Machine.

No one knows what specific challenges we will face in 2020, but we have a strong idea of what the leaders who can meet those challenges will look like and how they will get to be that way.

Lominger (A combination of both names) proposed a few things which at the time were innovative but now appear in many leadership books. I have slightly adapted their views in the three points below.
  1. It takes several years of practice to become an overnight success – about 10 years or 10,000 hours!
  2. Leaders can be made, the characteristic which will determine success is, the ability to learn.
  3. Learning is key, but learning agility is critical for individual growth and success. They suggested that learning new things, even if they are not related to work, will help to hone the leadership muscle.leaderhsip machine
This book really captured my imagination, they suggest that the Silver Bullet to top performance is challenging ourselves to learn in new and different ways. I took it to mean that we need to learn things that are hard to learn to keep the ‘little grey cells’ working.
After reading the book, I made a decision that I would learn something new every year and this is my list of the things I tried. In the first draft of this post, I included my work based learning, but as Lominger would point out I had to do that anyway. So I have limited the list to things that really challenged me.

Computer-based learning and social media

  1. Making a movie using iMovie – Youtube, trial and error, the motivation was my niece’s 21st birthday (she is now 32). Result? I can do it but need to learn more and I have only ever made four movies. Good investment of my time.
  2. Blogging – for my travels to the Falkland Islands and for work. I have a routine and a discipline about doing a blog now, and I know how to use WordPress and Blogger platforms. Great investment.
  3. Podcasting – to communicate messages and to create blended learning. Great course.  I tried a few times but I haven’t really used this. Investment was worth it though because I met a great teacher.

Indoor hobbies

  1. Knitting – refresher and a specialist course on how to finish off different types of knitting projects. Results are good and I have been finishing things I start.  I have also completed some projects I started 20 years ago.
  2. Sewing – three dresses – good fun and I know I can do it if needed. Investment was okay but I ended up with three dresses (very expensive ones given the course costs) that I will never wear.qult with Janice fabric
  3. Patchwork quilting – my sister-in-law gave me a sewing class as a birthday present. Result is that this is now my primary hobby. All these years later, I still love it and when I was in the Falkland Islands I was able to join a quilting group. It was a great way to meet some wonderful people.
  4. Painting – creating is important to me and I love watercolour so I thought I would give it a go. The result is awful – truly awful. Investment of time and money – not worth it.
  5. Cartooning – The motivation for this was to be able to illustrate my books myself. It was intended to help me create course material. The result was abject failure! I was thrown off the course for submitting poor work. The investment was still worth it because I was able to transfer the credits over to an online writing course. It did also help to stretch a boundary – quite a big stretch and I won’t be bothering trying to learn to draw or cartoon again.
  6. Embroidery – I like the look of modern embroidery and I wanted to do a class at the Royal School of Needlework, Hampton Court. It was fun but I haven’t kept it up. I need to finish my piece and to do a refresher.
  7. Book binding – why not? I loved it and made some great samples. It cost a lot of money to make two books that I will never use because they are so precious to me. I would like to try to put the skills to use again soon but I am not sure it will become a passion for me.
  8. Wet Felting – I was living in the Falklands so I had time to do it. Great fun. Unlikely to take it up anytime soon. Can make things if needed and will always treasure the things I made with a friend in Darwin, Falkland Islands.

Outdoor hobbies

  1. Flying light airplanes – I am not sure what motivated this. I think it has been on my mind since I first read Jonathon Livingston Seagull. The author describes flight so well that I could almost feel I was Jonathon. In my 30’s I started to glide and then I treated myself to a flying lesson for a special birthday. Once I flew with an engine I was I hooked. Result?  As I was approaching the date to do my Solo, I realised that I did not want to do solo flying. I loved the act of flying but not the responsibility of landing a plane near Heathrow. As an investment, it was a good one. People who know me know that I watched an array of disaster movies in the 70’s. In the 90’s I was travelling in remote places, so I felt that if I was ever in trouble I had the skill to fly us out, if needed, and if there just happened to be a fully fuelled small plane nearby. It’s a strange thought and as I am writing about flying, I realise that I love and miss it.
  2. Shooting – shotgun, rifle, handguns and machine gun. The motivation was purely research for writing.  My central character is a reluctant survivalist who has to use guns to defend herself to rescue children. Result? I am an excellent shot. Its a bit worrying that whatever weapon I used I was competent quickly. It gave me information I could never have imagined for my writing. I found the whole experience both exciting and terrifying. Great investment for two reasons: firsthand experience of handling guns to help with writing and I found something that I am really good at! Its not something I expect to use, hopefully, disaster movie scenario aside, but its a skill.
  3. Sailing – I was pretty okay at this but I wanted to learn how to manoeuvre a boat and I wanted to complete my Day Skipper exams. Result? I passed the exam and I am pretty good at handling a boat. Oh and I met my lovely husband sailing, so I think I can say this was the best investment of all!

Physical

  1. Swimming – in particular holding my breathe and swimming underwater for long periods – inspired by the 1970’s film ‘Poseidon Adventure’ and Shelley Winters swim to save passengers – yes really! A fantastic investment because it led to scuba and then to diving.
  2. Open-water diving – Jacques Cousteau – a tv programme that captured my imagination. I loved the programme most when they were underwater and you heard a gurgling sound of air.  It feels adventurous. Good investment but I haven’t done it for a while.
  3. Yoga – balance, strength and flexibility –  I am not disciplined enough to practice everyday. Great investment thought as I have good alignment and I feel great when I do it.
  4. Pilates – core and strength – bloody hate it! Great that I can do some of the exercises I don’t like but find helpful.
  5. Tai Chi – balance and inner calm. I thought it would be good to learn this before I visited and worked in an orphanage. I learnt a short form routine that I could do quickly every morning and evening. It was invaluable on my travels and I love it to this day. Great investment.
  6. Archery – a whim on holiday – loved it. I can’t say I am great at many things, but I am a great markswoman!

As I start my seventh decade I wonder where I want to focus my attention. This past twelve months has been a difficult for us and it has prompted us to start conversations about what we want to do with the few decades, we may have left. I know that sounds negative but its not, it is where we find ourselves today.  I enjoyed writing about my learning and as I went through the list I realised that some of things I really enjoyed have fallen by the wayside either because of cost or practicality.   In the next few weeks, I will post about what I intend to learn in this next decade. I have until 31st December to prepare the list!

Oh, and I can honestly say that Lomingers insights have had a lasting affect on my life. Learning is a Silver Bullet for fun, challenge, passion and for pushing boundaries.

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