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April 2008 Brainstorm E-Bulletin

At last, longer days and for me the excitement of a fresh new book (a bit more about that below). I hope the spring winds, whether they blow warm or cold, bring you some fresh inspiration. Maybe this will help a little:
1: The 25-50-25 Rule
I recently read an article by Robert Bly about overcoming paralysis by analysis. By this he means the process of taking in so much information about something that you want to do that you get overwhelmed and end up doing nothing – except taking in more information. Boy, can I ever relate to this one as it relates to online marketing! My time split was 25 percent buying books about the topic, 25 percent reading the books, 25 percent being confused, and 15 percent taking action (the other ten percent was checking e-mails…).
Bly recommends using a 25-50-25 formula for dividing your time:
* No more than 25 percent of your time for learning (reading about it, going to workshops, etc.);
* No more than 25 percent of your time for observing what people in this field are already doing (learning by example);
* At least 50 percent of your time actually doing what you are learning.
My guess is that an even better ratio would be 25 percent for all kinds of learning and 75 percent for doing (which will also entails learning because you'll make mistakes and correct them).
Action: If this challenge applies to you, try out the 25-50-25 or the 25-75 ratio for a while and notice the difference.
2: Do You Have an Antidote Strategy?
Writer and stand-up comic Paul Lawrence recommends what he calls an "antidote strategy." When he learned judo, the instructor taught him how to fall without getting hurt when he was thrown. When he learned how to do stand-up comedy, his instructor told him how to react when a joke fell flat (by acknowledging its failure to the audience, which often gets a laugh in itself). Having such an antidote strategy in place gives you more confidence to go forward with something risky. Example: if you're submitting a manuscript somewhere, already have in mind the next place to send it if the first place rejects it.
Action: Have you been avoiding doing something because you're afraid you'll fail? Come up with an antidote (or "Plan B") and move forward.
3: Another Plus of Mind Maps – Have You Tried This Yet?
I've used mind maps for years to outline presentations, get together the plots of script or the contents of a book chapter and much more, but generally I've done them with pen and paper. In the Focus workshop I have going at the moment, one of the participants, Janice Day, mentioned that she prefers to use mind-map software because it allows her to put thoughts and ideas down in any order and then move them around on the mind map once they start to suggest some kind of order. With most programs you can also easily print out the contents of the mind map in outline form. If you've never tried mind-map software, you might want to give it a try.
Action: The mind-map software I use most is NovaMind, and there are many others available, some free, some not. You can find them by googling "mind map software." Most of them allow you a free trial period, so why not download one and see whether this method of brainstorming and information organization suits you?
Jurgen's New Book: My latest book, "Focus: The Power of Targeted Thinking" comes out this week from Pearson Publishing in the U.K. (not yet available in the U.S.). It will be in the stores on May 1, but you can order it now from www.amazon.co.uk. At the moment, you have to look for it either by the full title or my name (we're working on getting it listed if you just type in "Focus"). That's for you early adopters!
4: Have You Stopped Asking Questions?
Here's a wise observation from George Bernard Shaw: "If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange those applies, then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange those ideas, then each of us will have two ideas."
One way to get new ideas is to ask questions, and kids are endless askers, but as we get older and more afraid of looking foolish, we also stop asking. One way to refresh your thinking is to allow yourself to wonder and to ask. If you read a book or a Web site and it raises a question, why not write or e-mail the author? If one of your colleagues is doing something interesting, why not find out more about it? Most people like sharing what they know, so it's a win-win situation.
Action: What have you wondered about this week? Go ahead and ask some questions. You may find that once you ask questions of others, they'll ask them of you, too, and a greater information exchange will be born.
5: Mantras: Not Just for Hippies Anymore
Writing about a workshop he attended, performance coach Angus McLeod wrote in Rapport: "We role-played a board presentation with four presenters. Each presenter was given a covert mantra [to repeat silently in between sentences] and the board, subsequently, asked to guess what the mantras might be." The result: "It is clear that the taking up of a simple thought/mantra makes a very significant difference to our way of being and expression and interaction with others. It also demonstrated how phenomenally acute the human mind is at intuitively recognizing subliminal messages."
Action: The next time you want to create a particular mental and physical state for a task, give yourself a mantra – something like "calm" if you're usually nervous during that task, or "love" or "understanding" when dealing with someone who normally exasperates you. Repeat it silently and notice the difference it makes to you – and probably to any other people involved even though they will have no idea what you're doing.
6: And a Quote to Consider:
"Discovery is seeing what everybody else has seen and thinking what nobody else has thought." – Albert Szent-Gyorgi
Until next time,
PS: If you haven't checked out my blog lately, you've missed posts on how to make a $20 million film (it doesn't apply only to films), questions to wake up creativity, lessons from writing and running, a link to a truly astonishing and amazing talk on the right brain (it's the post for March 21), and dealing with rejection. Why not go have a look right now: www.timetowrite.blogs.com and while you're there, why not sign up to get e-mail notification of new posts?
PPS: We welcome feedback and new subscribers! If you think your friends or colleagues would enjoy this e-bulletin, please forward it to them with the suggestion that they subscribe, too. We never sell or share our mailing list, and it's easy to unsubscribe if desired. Address your e-mails to: BStormUK@aol.com
You may also want to have a look at our Web sites, www.TimetoWrite.com,www.yourwritingcoach.com, www.BrainstormNet.com, and my two newest books, "Your Writing Coach," published by Nicholas Brealey Publishing and "Do Something Different," published by Virgin Books.

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