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Sheldonbarrocks.com Posts

Completed Cycles

Sleep cycles are an interesting topic to research in depth of you have the time. Studies have shown the quality of our sleep directly impacts our daytime productivity levels. But its information that’s universally known.

What may not be common knowledge is that we all go through sleep cycles each night and that a good night sleep hinges on us completing each cycle we start in full. For example there are 4 stages of our sleep cycle: Light Sleep, Moderate Sleep, Deep Sleep, and REM (Rapid Eye Movement).

Each stage has its own traits that we experience. We need to experience each stage for one sleep cycle to be complete. On average we go through a total of 4 to 6 cycles a night each averaging about 90 mins. The trouble starts when we wake up in the middle of a stage, leaving a cycle incomplete.

If you’ve ever wondered why you accomplished the recommended 7 to 8 hours of sleep but still felt groggy in the morning, you probably woke up in the middle of stage 2 or 3.

There are hundreds of other cycles in our lives I could use to backup the main point of this post which is: cycles need to be completed in full for us to benefit from them. Even when we decide to close a business, or quit a project, drafting a ‘post mortem’ to review what went wrong is good practice to ‘close the loop’.

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Guilt Free Decompression

South Park co-creator Trey Parker gave some interesting thoughts on taking time to decompress in the 2014 film Beyond the Brick: A LEGO Brickumentary.

After spending hours of effort creating original content, Parker revels in going home after a long day to build LEGO sets. More specifically taking time to methodically follow instructions piece by piece. He sees is as being therapeutic because it’s the only time in any given day when he’s not pushed to be creative. 

Relaxation and unwinding will look different for all of us. Spending time in a creative workday often pushes those individuals to resting their creative energy sources to eventually be replenished. Building LEGO sets, reading, watching a film, or possibly following recipe directions all fit the bill.

On the flip side, those with a more predictable, process oriented career could be more inclined to look for creative outlets that promote free thought and imagination as a way to decompress (e.g. writing, painting, customs car design, etc.).

Of course this isn’t a perfect science. The opposite will also be true. The main point is around the need for consistent time of decompression through moments of relaxation. And most important of all, not feeling guilty for what you decide that moment will look like.

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We Can Stop Climbing

There’s a reason why it’s called climbing the corporate ladder. If you climb long enough you’ll eventually reach your ‘peak’ or get to the pinnacle of your career.

But there’s a catch. Once you reach that pinnacle the natural progression is to reach for the next level. And the level after that. And so on.

Careers void of any real purpose usually follow this trend. And there’s inherently nothing wrong with that. Accomplishments in higher positions and more compensation are the default pursuits when we haven’t defined a true purpose for our daily work and lives.

That’s the thing about true purpose. It should always involve making the lives of others better. And the best part is there’s no limitation to the opportunities available. There will always be those who are in need of creative solutions to some of the worlds most dire issues – e.g. Flint MI.

The beauty of it is we don’t need to keep ‘climbing’ to make purposeful impact.

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Reframing

Planning, drafting, forecasting, are all guess work in its simplest form. We do our best to gather as much information ahead of time to make the most accurate estimation of how things will work out. The only sure occurrence will be the arrival of ‘uncontrollables’. The unexpected events that can derail our plans.

And when our efforts get derailed we either give up or try again by replanning, redrafting, and reforcasting. The latter is a more optimistic view of the situation, even when things looks dire. Ultimately we decide to view the shortcoming from a different perspective.

When we do this we are ‘reframing’ the situation. Reframing or cognitive reframing is the process of looking at a current situation from a different perspective and changing the way we define it. Therapist use this technique to help clients with distorted thinking patterns.

When we don’t get what we want or the unexpected happens, there’s often a silver lining available for us to unpack.

•We didn’t get that coveted job we applied for, but the daily round trip commute was two hours on a good day.

•Our business failed, but the lessons learned from the ‘after action review’ will help us avoid the same mistakes on our next business venture.

Practicing the habit of cognitive reframing is beneficial from a productivity standpoint, but more importantly from a personal mental health perspective. The way we think about a situation emotionally takes precedence over the actual details of the moment.

Tearing down what we already know and replacing it with a refreshed, positive point of view daily is a practice that will help us personally as well as professionally.

You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control how you frame it. Reframe your mind, restore your perspective. – Craig Groeshel

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That’s How We Scroll!

On average we scroll through 300 feet (90 meters) of social media content daily. As a business owner or content creator that poses two major problems.

One, how do we go about creating something meaningful that will grab the attention of your target audience enough to make them slow their scroll?

And two, how do we stop ourselves from getting stuck scrolling down the social media content rabbit hole, which ultimately leads to a lack of true productivity and originality in our own work.

The addictive nature of social media makes it an ideal source for marketing to audiences (and an ideal source for wasting time.). But the sheer amount of content consumed in a day is shortening the attention span of that same audience. And more importantly our own.

What’s the answer? Purposeful content.

Purposeful content should lead our audiences and ourselves to do 3 things: Stop, think and eventually take action.We need to create it and we need to consume it. Everything else needs to be discarded.

In the digital age, people spend countless hours throughout the day on social media and at the end of the day have absolutely nothing to show for it.” – Germany Kent

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From Okay to Awesome

The creative process is usually invisioned as this deep fulfilling experience of going into a trance and producing our best work from it over and over again. It typically does work that way though.

I follow venture capitalist Arlene Dickinson on. She’s most known for appearing on the popular show Dragon’s Den for over 10 years. For Americans reading this, Dragon’s Den is the original Shark Tank.

She recently posted the following on LinkedIn that fully summarized the creative process we actually go through.

THE CREATIVE PROCESS

1. THIS IS AWESOME

2. THIS IS TRICKY

3. THIS IS SH#%T

4. I AM SH#%T

5. THIS MIGHT BE OK

6. THIS IS AWESOME

I couldn’t help but laugh inside and fully agree with the accuracy of the sentiments.

Our creative process isn’t as linear as we’d like it to be. But the emotional roller coaster we ride can end up being a significant source from where we pull our greatest ideas and solutions from.

In other words, what’s starts off as SH#%T might actually end up as being AWESOME.

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Potential Requires Process

When we have big aspirations to accomplish something significant, our brain by default goes into short cut mode and tries to find the quickest or easiest way to get there. It’s the very reason microwaves were invented.

I just finished reading the highly regarded book ‘Can’t Hurt Me’ by David Goggins. At the end when he gives his acknowledgements to those who supported him, he reveals the book was a 7 year process in the making. That wasn’t the original timeline but a result of getting the most out of the opportunity to share his story. The book went on to be a New York Times Best Seller.

A consideration of how much time will be used executing a thorough process hardly comes to mind at first but creeps up on use once we’re in the midst of the journey.

It’s important to understand that in anything we seek to do, no matter how long it takes, process is the key to unlocking our full potential.

“If you quit on the process, you are quitting on the result.” – Idowu Koyenikan

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‘Hands Free’ Innovation

When innovation is introduced, the first question we should ask is ‘why’? Instead of declaring ‘no one asked for this!’

In the case of Nike’s new Go FlyEase ‘hands free’ sneakers, someone did ask for it and the global sneaker brand fully committed to taking on the challenge.

That someone was Matthew Walzer who in 2012 at 16 years of age wrote a letter to Nike about the need for such a design. Walzer detailed in the letter how his battle with Cerebral Palsy made doing simple functions like tying his own shoes challenging.

“At 16 years old, I am able to completely dress myself, but my parents still have to tie my shoes. As a teenager who is striving to become totally self-sufficient, I find this extremely frustrating and, at times, embarrassing.”

Nike designer Tobie Hatfield led the project and ultimately finalized the design with the help of Walzer. The Nike Go FlyEase allows Walzer to use only his feet to secure his shoes.

Sometimes at first ‘social media’ glance innovation looks like a waste of time and resources. And that we need to be convinced of the benefit to our individual lives. Like slip-on running shoes.

But if we’re brave enough to stop scrolling for a minute and research the ‘why’ we’ll be pleasantly surprised that a need for innovation was there all along. We just had to look for it.

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Untarnished Super Bowl Rings

In 2020 and 2021 veteran running back LeSean Mckoy won back to back Super Bowl championships with 2 different teams: The Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers respectively.

Several media pundits were quick to point out that he never played a single minute in each game. Those same individuals wouldn’t be as quick to tell you that despite not playing in the big game McKoy achieved his 8th straight year of 1000 yards or more from scrimmage.

If you’re not familiar with that football term, just know it’s not something the majority of NFL players today can say they’ve accomplished. Also being a veteran player there were other leadership intangibles Mckoy brought to the team that could have easily gone unnoticed by the causal fan or media ‘expert’.

And that’s okay, because Mckoy will always be known as a Super Bowl Champion and it can never be taken away from him. He made the conscious decision to agree to his role in the team. And executed it when called upon.

When we sign up to do anything we must ask ourselves are we genuinely interested in experiencing success that will be personally and corporately satisfying? Or are we just interested in social notoriety? Long term, significant success tends to be the result of the former than the latter.

Success is still success even when the masses have no idea of it ever happening.

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What’s Your Favourite Chocolate Bar?

As I’m writing this I currently work for one of the world’s largest chocolate and pet food manufacturers. Mars Inc. has been around for over 100 years and I was fortunate enough to land a position with them in their commercial division last spring.

But that’s how it’s currently going, not how it started.

In 2015 I had applied for a different position with Mars and was invited in for an interview. Though I could have answered some of the questions better, overall I felt I had wrapped up the discussion on a high note. That’s until they asked me the final question:

Mars: “So what’s your favourite chocolate bar?”

Me: “Reese peanut butter cups.”

Mars: “Hmm, oh ok that’s not one of ours.”

Me: {Makes awkward smiley face}

In my preparation I overlooked one of the most basic fundamental principles in impressing during an interview: understanding the difference between a company’s products and their competitors.

Not saying that mishap was the reason I didn’t get the job, but I’m confident it didn’t help my cause.

My advice: over prepare for big opportunities. The devil will always be in the details.

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