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'Nearly all the problems facing society today cannot be attacked by single disciplines.'

Dr Alexander King

This blog contains hundreds of original articles. 


And book a talk and buy my new book MICROMASTERY

"I couldn't stop telling people about this book. Wise and joyful, it genuinely changed the way I thought about learning - and it left me bursting to put it into action."  - Tim Harford, author of Fifty Things That Made The Modern Economy

"Micromastery is a triumph. A brilliant idea, utterly convincing, and superbly carried through." Philip Pullman.



Go and get it from a bookshop.

Or Buy online! Micromastery - learn small, learn fast and find the hidden path to happiness is published by Penguin books (UK) in May 2017. It will be published in China, Taiwan, USA, Germany and South Korea in the months after that.

You can get it at Wordery- click below

Or for those amazon junkies click this one:



who benefits from complexity?

In modern urban culture finance and the law become increasingly complex. The way to make money in both these areas is to find loopholes in the regulations. Those with a better tolerance of complexity will succeed. They will regard increasing complexity as a benefit as it sorts out the players from the amateurs. By business-evolutionary pressure the peculiar aspergery/dedicated/creative combination needed to flourish in complex regulatory environments will further encourage complexity in that area. The complexity handlers will be vastly well rewarded, the rest will get little. A priestly caste will emerge, albeit one which is not hugely difficult to join if you have the right mindset. 

But since this is a positive feedback situation the only brake on complexity increasing will come from outside. A Gordian knot solution (Alexander didn't bother to try an unravel the impossible knot, he cut it). In this case someone with a gun takes over the land and resources of the complexity masters.

Or is there another ending?


patience and intuition

Patience is a virtue- how many times have you heard that and dismissed it? Old school, not relevant in this fast paced world. Things DEMAND to be done NOW don' t they?

Maybe not.

A virtue is a self-training tool that has been observed and eventually shorn of its connection to higher understanding. It has some 'worldly' value- patient people are generally happier and more contented than those in a constant and demanding hurry- but not always. Patience, like any other virtue, has been 'seen through' in these challenging times. The problem with this cleverness is that masks the bridge that patience provides.

Patience is how you learn to be intuitive about timing, about the right time to act. 

You can hone your intuition about WHAT to do as much as you like, but if you miss out WHEN, then you are like someone running past bus stops and hoping a bus will just turn up as you approach (which does sometimes happen of course- just not very often).

By practising patience you learn the texture of time, you get a feel for the moment to act by learning how to bide your time. To learn this you need to allow a patient approach into every area of your life. Look at how you do things and ask- am I simply being a bit impatient here?




Don't drop the Clangers

Clanger creator Oliver Postgate's wonderful autobiography 'Seeing Things' contains many interesting insights. One that struck me forcibly was what he said after talking to animation students at the Royal College of Art, 'They taught me more than I realy wanted to know about how our simple direct craft had been inflated into a manic pretentious pseudo-art....They wanted me to see how visually stunning their work was and how well it fitted into the current state-of-the-art fashion, in fact how 'good' it was....[But] you can't really ask how 'good' a piece of work is by itself. You can only ask how well it does what it is setting out to do.'

I meet people all the time obsessed with whether their work is 'good' enough. Instead they would be far more productive by asking the simple question: does it achieve what it sets out to do? And, therefore, what is it setting out to achieve?


the problematique

In some languages things are better expressed; thinking about a network of problems, an inter-related set of problems- the problematique- one is mentally better prepared for positive action- if this is indicated. In English we think too much on 'a problem'- a unitary thing, whereas it is almost always linked to other things, inextricably often. Identifying the linkages and emphases of a series of problems, exploring their context (even if such descriptions irritate you) is a form of reconnaisance- and it is time seldom wasted.

Thinking about unitary problems encourages the opposite too: panacea thinking about solutions. 



"Even scientists are asking whether an undifferentiated curiosity is really man’s highest and most hallowed attribute." 

Peter Brent, author of biographies of Darwin and Scott and also of the book Godmen of India.

Curiousity without context, without judgement is the curiousity of the child poking his fingers into the electric socket- might get lucky, might not.

Curiousity, when completely absent in children, is a horrible thing to behold- looks like death. However adult curiousity is a tool and not a master. Both right and left brain are involved. When the left brain is in control it is simply saying 'all curiousity is good'. The right brain, being able to a greater or lesser extent to be able to transcend time- gets an overview and sees that this path might not be fruitful. The right brain supplies FORESIGHT, the higher form of intelligence.

Naturally all those in the grip of left brain dominance will disagree with this...


Give yourself a task ladder

Following on from the suggestion that you find what level of task you can assign yourself I suggest putting the final job you'd like to give yourself- say CEO of your own company or feature film director or round the world yachtsman- at the top of 'a ladder' of jobs which reaches from the humble level of the kind of job you absolutely KNOW you can assign yourself and carry out successfully. In between fill in the 'rungs' with intermediate jobs that overlap and seem possible once the one below has been completed. Use the task ladder to work up to giving yourself truly huge jobs you can successfully carry out....


What level of job can you assign yourself?

One of the most useful concepts originated in the self-help sphere by Sci-fi writer A.E.Van Vogt was to ask of yourself: 'what level of task can I assign myself and carry out successfully?'

Lots of top executives on big wages can only take orders or follow pre-set routines. They cannot give themselves a higher level task than painting a fence or doing the laundry. It was a sobering realisation that the highest level task I could give myself was organising an expedition....starting a business, say, was beyond the task level I could set myself and carry out.

Until I met someone else who I could team up with. Together we set up a business that I could never, would never, have done on my own.

The modern era has seen jobs become even less attractive....and the chance to do your own thing even easier. There is money out there to be found. The only barrier is being able to assign yourself that task. But this is not a barrier if you have a group (which can be two of you, that's enough). You can assign yourselves tasks that alone would have seemed impossible.