All entries for November 2005
November 24, 2005
Writing about an entry you don't have permission to view
I must spend more time thinking about my Blog before I write it. That's why they are so long and rambling.
Long and rambling blogs are ok. It's ok to develop an idea on screen, which is maybe what you're doing. You're reflecting on what you've learned and coming to your own conclusions. Who said that the blog post should be the end result and not part of the process? Maybe you shouldn't spend more time thinking about your blog before you write it. Maybe you would lose something by doing that? I find writing is a good way of exploring something. I have lots of draft posts which I come back to after a day and realise that I've answered my own question, so I don't post them, but I wouldn't have been able to get to that point without sitting and trying to type them out.
I suppose it comes down to this: What do you want to use your blog for? I felt that I had to have something worthwhile to say and the pressure about writing a blog post meant that I wasn't doing it very regularly at all. So, I have decided to sit down and just write. If it's work related or about something else that's on my mind then thats fine. The blogging, for me, is about practicing expressing thoughts in a coherent manner (and lord knows I need the practice). Also, it's a good way of emptying my brain so your mind doesn't get clogged up with random thoughts….maybe thats just me? And ranting, oh how I love the ranting!
Over the past few days we have been thinking about leadership and coming up with our own definitions. Initially, I came up with: "the process of influence" because it makes sense to me that every time someone tries to influence, they try to lead. But it doesn't quite cover it. Through our group analysis of other definitions we identified three common themes: Influence, relationships and goals. Relationships must exist as to lead, there has to be someone to follow, and a realtionship must exist. Also, to lead implies a direction i.e. the achievement of some purpose of goal. Our analysis was corroborated by other authors on the subject (which was pleasing). The definition that our group came up with was: Leadership is the process of influence between the leader and followers to achieve goals.
Paul's definition was similar to ours but he specifies 'shared goals' in his definition: Leadership is the process of influencing the thoughts and activities of followers toward achievement of shared goals. This definition doesn't work for me. It implies that these shared goals have to exist for leadership to take place. I suggest that leadership encompasses the creation of these shared goals. I think that the creation of shared values is something more than selling an idea.
To create shared values, there has to be some influence. This could be an event or equally a person using their influence over others to bring them round to a single point of view. So, I would refine this definition to the following: Leadership is the process of influencing the thoughts and activities of followers to create and achieve shared goals. For the moment i'm happy with this but I know that I will refine this again and again.
I've also found myself interested in entrepreneurship and leadership. Entrepreneurs display a large amount of personal leadership, but are entrepreneurs always effective leaders? Do entrepreneurs have to have leadership qualities to be successful?
November 23, 2005
…but I have purchased a CD. I don't usually buy, I borrow. I don't listen to female artists (weird huh), I don't listen to anything with a heavy social agenda, or anything remotely dyke-ish (if that's a proper word). Picky, much? After picking my way carefully through M's CD collection (I’m sure she's going to have something to say about it soon) for something to liven me up whilst doing the washing up, I happened across a few CDs that shall not be named to minimise embarrassment and to cut a long story short, I have been listening whenever I have the chance. Some of you who know me will have noticed that I have been tied up in electric wire this week and now you know why.
I was sceptical initially. The website says that the album occupies the ground between "rock, old-school punk, and folk" and goes on with the following…
'Prom' roams over the vast territory of love and gender as contained in the physicality of nature. The subject matter spans a delicate landscape (suicide, racism, gender identification, political idealism, homophobia) but because she sees this awkward journey as both a struggle and a celebration, Ray comes across as curious and unafraid.
That alone would make me not buy it and relegate it to the pile of 'lefty dyke music'. But wow. A fantastic CD. Great voice, but haunting almost – easy on the ears and not too harsh or piercing but powerful. That, I suppose is why I don't like listening to female voices. It's like: Yes, I hear you. Yes, you sing well. Make me feel something.
You can download the first two tracks for free from Daemon Records and then turn the volume up. I'm listening to it with a grin on my face. It calms me. The lyrics inspire and intrigue. There's a punk feel, in a nice way. There's nothing like a bit of anger and passion, especially in "Put It Out".
Budgeting over the Christmas period can be hard but forget the rent; this should be top of your list.
November 21, 2005
I can't really think of stuff to write today. It's the first day of 'Leadership and Excellence'. I'm sure i'm going to enjoy the next two weeks, as I learn about different leadership theories and how I can translate these into practice. How well will these work for me? How well do they work for other people? Will I be able to spot specific management styles as I walk around? Are there specific methods for breaking the cycle of poor leadership?
I've been thinking about why business people choose to look like they've been cloned i.e. wearing a suit, but that choosing to wear the same type of outfit as others in a social situation, for example, would be just plain creepy. I don't get it. It all seems so shallow and myopic. Maybe i'm being naive. What happened to actually talking to people and finding about what they have to say, rather than what their clothes say about them? And no comments about 'that's just the way that it is'. I get that. Sorry peeps, I have the grumps. Can you hear the snarling?
November 20, 2005
November 19, 2005
I've hit a wall with my assignment. I'm sitting here with the document open and not making any headway. I can't see a way forward with it, possibly because I know that there is so much to do. Maybe I’m at the top of the mountain and its all downhill from here? The best thing is to write something, anything. If I write in my blog, will it help to get me started today? Hopefully.
I'm beginning to wonder how on earth it is possible to produce a worthy post module assignment in 40 hours. Am I doing something wrong here? It is me having an appalling writing process? Does this tutor have unrealistic expectations or is it me getting the wrong end of the stick? The stats assignment is achievable in the time. Do all tutors have unrealistic expectations, having forgotten what it is like to be a student?
M is off to buy a new vacuum cleaner and then off to watch England vs. New Zealand at the rugby club. I'm not going to Shrewsbury to be with the team because I can't justify the time away from writing the assignment. The whole thing is completely shagged. What possessed me to pick something so bloody wordy? Someone bring me some calculus… Is this subject wrong for me? This is the wrong time to re-evaluate my degree choices but an engineering undergrad would have been more enjoyable, something more quantitative at least.
Doing something for 40 hours and then handing it in even though I know that it can be improved is a hard one for me to grasp. Perfectionism is a real strength but it's a fight with myself. I can drive myself through it. The deadline will come and I will submit something. And I don't dwell on it and over time I will see the good points. Beating myself up over what I could have done is illogical and pointless. Why do I put myself through this if this is the way I work? Why on earth do I have ideas of doing further study when I finish?
I'm letting this thing run my life. It only represents 4.72% of the overall degree mark, so a mark of 50% in the assignment is only 2.36% of my overall degree lost. Not so bad. I'm blowing this all out of proportion. Jane: stop the meltdown and get on with it.
November 17, 2005
I managed to make lots of progress on my assignment yesterday. I tried writing down any non-work thoughts on a pad of paper and then wrote relevant thoughts into mindmap. It worked really well for me as when the thought was 'out' and recorded, I knew that I wouldn't forget it and my brain left me alone, letting me work with fewer interuptions from myslf, if that makes sense. I think that I trust myself more with mindmaps too. Instead of wanting to put it into a word format I stuck with it (but it was tempting). This 'birds-eye' view is so much better in a mindmap format.
I managed to generate another 1500 words without knowing it (without it feeling like climbing Everest). Today is about tidying it up. I think that its useful for me to split the two component activities clearly in my head. Yesterday I was generating and playing ideas and writing down all of the half thoughts etc and today I will tidy up what I have done i.e. create something that has a coherant structure. Sometimes I get the two parts mixed up i.e. I generate a few ideas, tidy them up, generate some more etc and all the perfect pieces don't fit together as I wanted. And I worry about it as I can't see the bigger picture – I only have a vague idea about what the thing is supposed to look like.
There's no way that I am going to spend anywhere close to this amount of time on any of my other assignments. I didn't start it late, it has just dragged on and on. There's no point bashing my head in about the excessive time spent. I've learned a lot and will move on. I don't think about it when i've submitted it. There's no point analysing it over and over. It only increases stress and worry. And I don't like it…
November 14, 2005
This is primarily aimed at Warwick Uni people but for those of you that are interested…
The University has applied for, and was selected to take part in, a governmental pilot project designed to reduce the level of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions produced by higher education establishments. The University will receive guidance in designing and implementing a series of projects with the aim of reducing Warwick’s CO2 emissions by 10% in the next 5 years. The University has set its own rigorous target of reducing the level of emissions by 2% this academic year.
For the environmentally conscious amongst you, this is clearly quite excting. I would encourage you all to post your ideas using the suggestion form.
Click here also for more info.
I've been thinking a lot about my stlye of thinking and writing over the past few days. This all came about through the PPE assignment which ground to a halt for me midway through last week. I found myself trying to find excuses to do statistics. I mean, honestly! Some assignments go well; they seem to get done quickly and I enjoy doing them. Others just hang around. Why is that? Is it just me?
Doing maths is a very linear process as 99% of it involves a clear starting point and end point with a void in the middle which one should fill with a clear, logical argument. At a first glance, essay writing looks a lot like this, but no matter how much effort, it is impossible for me to write in a linear way i.e. beginning, middle, end.
My thoughts have always been jumpy and it has been a long term stress factor in my life that I can't hang on to a thought for more than about 5 seconds. I wanted to work on it in my head and be able to write somethng on paper that was reasonably well developed.
After a conversation with my tutor, i'm exploring the idea that being scatty can be a strength and that one can get more original ideas by allowing my mind to have ideas and not to stop them coming because i'm busy working on another thought. If the brain is faster than the pen than I should work on methods to increase the speed of recording my thoughts rather than to slow my brain down.
I think a good analogy for what I was trying to do is this: I was trying to paint a perfect picture from a description without a sketching it all out first. I don't allow myself to 'just write'. I realise that I should save the perfectionism for the end 'tidying up' part, and try to appreciate the difference in the two distinct processes in writing an essay.
After reading the first part of Writing your dissertation in 15 minutes a day by Joan Bolker, it's clear that that i'm not writing enough. So, I will write more. For a start, I will aim to write something in the blog about how work is going. And I will stop torturing myself when something is not exactly how I would like it and move on.
Mindmaps seem to be the best way forward for me. I will use them properly for my next assignment, which happens to be accounting. Yummy. I thought that I was using mindmaps correctly, but I don't think I was. I didn't believe that I was making 'progress' on an assignment unless I had it in essay form and it had a work count. I don't stick with it long enough and I don't use mindmpas for brainstorming, just for structure. This is something that i'm going to change in my next assignment.
So I'm thinking about what I mean by progress at the moment. How do you determine how your essay is going? Is it by word count? How you feel about it? In comparison to others? If anyone reads this, do reply as I am really interested.
November 12, 2005
Why is it that some assignments come and go with a minimum of fuss and some just won't die? The PPE assignment has been driving me up the wall but I recognise that i'm tying myself up in knots about it.
At the last count, this is the fourth proper essay that I've written since bluffing my way through 1000 words about Twelfth Night at GCSE. I've written other stuff, mainly internet based, in which my fantastic wit and clever observation (haha) covered up my complete lack of experience and ability in the writing department :-)
I'm on a steep learning curve.
More to follow. I need sleep as i'm off to Twickenham tomorrow (today actually) to watch England get whipped by Australia. Wuhoo.