📝 Notes for the Curious: Edition #82


It’s been a crazy week. I zoomed over to London for a brief workshop with Facebook on the subject of mentorship. Nothing fills my heart and soul more than being surrounded by community leaders who are doing good in the world. Whenever I participate in these types of events I come away with a sense that I am doing exactly the right work in the world, for and with the right people.

The hustle and bustle of the city though was a shock to the system. Amsterdam is so peaceful by comparison. Racing about by car and tube in London was way more stressful than just hopping on my bike.

It reminded me, once again, how important it is for me to keep pursuing a life and business which focuses on simplifying and streamlining. I don’t want to be part of the noise, I want my contributions to be positive and part of a gentler, kinder way of bringing people together. And that starts by treating myself the way I would treat others.

Our little experiment in the last edition, where I ask you a question and you answer anonymously via a form, was a hit! I hoped it might be but it really seemed to resonate with you. I received lots of answers which I have collated at the end of today’s Notes, along with another question to keep the momentum going. Don’t skip the articles and race to the answers, though, we have a great selection this edition of things which really made me think and shifted my perspective. I will be interested to find out how they connect with you.

And now, let’s get on with this edition of the Notes…

1) Judge or witness?

I am absolutely fascinated by the concept of shame. As an introvert who spent most of her life feeling that she didn’t belong or quite fit in, the concept of shame was ever present even before I could name it. Running a parenting community, I fought hard to remove judgement from our day-to-day conversations in the group. We were dealing with so much already as parents, did we really have to shame each other for our choices as well when all we were doing was asking for support? It turns out, though, that removing judgement isn’t a reasonable request, nor is it necessarily a desirable one. Critical thinking is vital, more now so than ever and judging is part of that process. This article from the New York Times gave me food for thought on the roles we play in the conversation around judgement and shame. What if we let go of our desire to be judge and jury and instead embraced the role of witness?

2) Skim Reading

Confession: I am a chronic skim reader. I wasn’t as a child, I could spend hours absorbed in books. That luxury was removed from me when I decided to do a joint honours degree in English Language and Literature and Italian. My long langrous reading hours became my read-four-books-and-two-theory-papers-a-week hours. I quickly learnt to race over content like a dragonfly, alighting here and there on key phrases and concepts. And then the internet arrived. A fire hose of information at the touch of a button. Then the baby, then the business. I found I was really having to put effort into focusing on one piece of text at a time. I know I’m not alone. Skim readers are everywhere, and there are certainly benefits. I like to think, though, that we will also be able to retain our ability to do deep reading as well. It’s a skill I don’t think we should lose entirely.

3) You don’t have to monetise your joy


4) Self-care won’t save you

This was such a well written piece, thoughtful, nuanced and witty. There is definitely a dark side to the way that we are talking about self-care, one that speaks to those who have and those who have not. Unsurprisingly, the solution seems to be (once again) my favourite trinity, connection, belonging and community.

5) Keeping it simple

In my Notes for the Curious planner, I have a “productivity” topic category. Increasingly, though, I find myself turning away from the content that I would have shared in the first year or so of the Notes, things which told you how to squeeze the most out of every minute of your day and leaning more in to understanding how to simplify my life and do more with less. That doesn’t mean I don’t still use the Ideal Week method, I do, all the time, it’s just that I focus less on how to squeeze everything in and more on making sure that I am intentional in the things I want to include in my weekly planning and I’m getting much better at holding the buffer space wide open.

I Asked, You Answered

In the last edition of the Notes I asked; “What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?” This is what you had to say…

  • You have to try it before you can say that you don’t like it.

  • We have a saying in Arabic that translates to "Just do your diligence and leave the rest to the universe". My mom used to say that to me before every exam in school, then when I applied for work and I try to keep that in mind :)

  • The antidote to doubt is not confidence. It’s commitment. You don’t have to be sure or confident, just commit.

  • Don't feel boxed in by what is offered to you and/or is available. You can actually create and shape the career you want for yourself.

  • k.i.s.s. simple is sexy

  • This too shall pass

  • Be clear on your personal values. Decide on your own success metrics. And know that both of these things will change over time but your decision-making will constantly be based on your best and most authentic self over your fears.

  • Always take some time to prepare yourself, for every meeting or encounter, just 5 minutes will do: what’s at stake? when am I happy with the outcome? Is it important to me or not? What is my main message/goal/point of view? How do I feel about the subject/meeting (connect with your inner source)

  • I was advised to join boards of organizations to gain knowledge and further network when I started out in the Netherlands.

  • To let some of my mommy guilt go because any loss of time/attention was being compensated by the example/model I was setting for my daughter (and son) in also valuing myself and my professional and intellectual interests/goals/needs.

  • Start now and perfect it later

  • Be kind to yourself.

  • Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.

  • Keep walking keep breathing

  • “Perfection is the enemy to getting things done.” I oftentimes set time limits for myself on completing something. Once the time is up, I am done and release it out into the world.

  • "You are stronger than you think" cause one week after a lot of horrible stuff happened I saw myself standing and smiling and thinking: wauw, I am stronger than I think.

I loved reading the responses so much (honestly, when I started seeing them pop up in my inbox I did a little happy dance at my desk), that we’re going to keep this going. The question I am asking this edition is: “Which book have you read recently that left an impact on you?” Click the question to leave your answer (anonymously), I’ve also added an optional second question this week for those of you who have a question you would like to ask your fellow Notes readers. Responses will be published in the next edition.

Until the next Notes,


P.S. My website is having a little spring clean at the moment. All the content is still there, it might just look a little wonky if you are visiting it for the next few weeks. Bear with me, good things are coming.

Who am I and who do I help? I’m Emmy McCarthy and I make small businesses better and help people create leadership in their communities.

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