The circle of control

  • Your decisions
  • Your aims
  • Your desires
  • Your dislikes

Or together, your own thoughts and actions. These are the things you control.

They’re within your circle.

Trying to control anything outside of the circle will only lead to stress and unwanted feelings.

Trying to make a person behave a certain way.

Remaining healthy and not falling ill.

Not having a machine you rely on break down.

All of these and more will some how manifest themselves throughout life.

And two approaches you can take.

1. Accept them for what they are and act accordingly

2. Pretend they are the source for your unhappiness

If you want an easy decision, remember what’s inside the circle.


No retakes

The phone rang. And rang. And rang a few more times. No answer.

The voicemail sounded. 'Leave a message after the beep.'


I left a message.

Then hung up. After I hung up I went to go back and listen to my message. I couldn't. It was on the other person's voicemail already.

'What if I didn't say something right?' I thought.

'What if it sounded weird?'

Too late. There are no retakes on voicemail. It's there.

There are plenty of times you'll walk away from something and think, 'I should've said that!'

Or worse, 'I wish I didn't say that...'.

Better more of the first than the second. But either way, all the worry in the world won't change it. It's done. Leave it (or fix it if you need to), learn from it, move on.

You have to work up to be a level 35 boss

Sam and Josh are the bed trying out my new bed base. I'm at the desk writing.

Sam speaks.

This is like a psychologist session for me.

I look up.

What are you thinking?

The goals I have and finding the fastest way possible to do them. Having fun as well. But I'm scared.

I speak.

What are you scared of?

Scared of doing them. Scared of them being impossible to reach. I don't have time or experience or the money to do it myself.

Josh speaks.

You are a level 1 crook at the moment. You have to work up to be a level 35 boss. That's how mafia works.

We laugh. He was talking about a meme going around. And he’s right.

I speak.

Write down what you're thinking. You may get lost in thoughts but found in the words. It helps me. And it's free to try.

Sam listens closely.

Then get up in the morning and write 1 thing down on a piece of paper. What's 1 thing you want to get done that day? Then do it the next day. Learn what it's like to get something small done.

He nods.

I continue.

Hey Siri 20-minute timer. I set a timer.

When it's time to do the thing you wrote down, set a timer for yourself. For the next 20-minutes do nothing except work on that thing. For the first few minutes it will be hard but then as you go on, you'll get into a flow.

He smiles and picks up his phone. Facebook is more entertaining than me.

I go back to writing.

I think of something else to tell him. Patience. But it can wait. I don't want to over lecture him. The best way to teach is to set an example anyway. I know I can do that.

He's holding himself back. I'm holding myself back. We're all holding ourselves back. It's the old version of ourselves. Our old way of thinking.

That's why we're scared of the goals we have. Because the old version of ourselves doesn't have the brain capacity to handle them.

Can you imagine trying to run the latest apps on an old operating system? The latest version of the Quora app wouldn’t run very well on iOS 6.

To achieve what you want to achieve, your old ways of thinking have to be upgraded.

This is where writing has helped me. Write down the best version of your future self. 3-5 years from now is a good timeline. Not too long. Not too short.

How would they think?

How would they make decisions?

What actions would they take?

Those are the features you want in the most important software there is: your way of thinking.

Birds of a feather flock together

Opposites attract is a common saying. But how much time would you really want to spend with someone who's the complete opposite of you?

If you're into health and fitness and working on challenging projects, how much time do you want to be spending with someone who likes spending their days on the couch watching reruns of reality TV shows?

Give yourself permission to change tribes if you need to.

And if the tribe doesn't exist, you can always create it.

Being specific is brave

Specific: ‘I’m going to lose 10kg by March 15.’


General: ‘I’m going to lose weight.’

Which is easier to make excuses about?

Being specific means you’re outlining the criteria for you to fail in advance.

Being general encourages you to aim for the middle.

General is fine if you want to be near the middle.

But if not, you better have the courage to be specific.

When you’re specific about what it is you want to do, you’ll meet two kinds of people: those who get it and those who don’t.

Don’t worry about those who don’t. Your work isn’t for them.

Don't make an enemy where there isn't one

How many people have the same parents as you?

How many people have the same teachers as you?

How many people have read the same books you have?

How many people are interested in the same things you are?

Your view of the world may be similar to others but if you really drilled down into it, it's unique.

So when someone else's worldview doesn't align with yours, it doesn't mean they're your enemy. It means their worldview is different to yours.

Your job isn't to try and convince these people to try and see your way of thinking, it's to make yours clearer.

Don't make enemies where there are none.

You’re going to be clueless about some things

“If you wish to improve, be content to be seen as ignorant or clueless about some things.” - Epictetus

Getting better at one thing means not improving at something else.

You can’t be great at everything. No one is. And the people who try have all failed.

Work on what you need to work on. And if it means not knowing about what the latest news is or who has been talking to who, so be it.

What you should do with your spare time (to greatly improve your life)

You know the basics. The basics are easy.

  • Stay healthy

  • Stay hungry (for knowledge)

  • Avoid excess social media

  • Rest

  • Meditate

  • Take a yoga class

All the things you always see in a top 10 list. Take care of these all you’ll be in a good place.

But what else?

These are the things you’re scared to talk about with others. The thoughts that go through your head when you’re in bed.

Where does all this fear come from?

Tribe mentality.


7547 years ago, Johnny was part of a tribe. They hunted their own food and gathered what they needed.

Everyone had a role. Og collected the wood. Pog went out for berries.

One day Johnny decided to try something different. Instead of starting the fire, he went tree climbing to look for eggs.

When Johnny got back to the camp, the others weren’t happy.

No fire. No food. It was Johnny’s role to get the fire started. And we can all relate to how we feel after a night without dinner.

As Johnny walked back into camp, Tog put a spear through his chest. The tribe didn’t have room for outliers.

Fast forward to now and tribe mentality is still a thing. It’s ingrained in your biology.

Modern tribes don’t often come in the form of groups of spearing wielding individuals anymore. They come in the form of narratives.

You story you tell yourself is the tribe you belong to.

The deepest soul-suck of life begins when the story you tell yourself in your head doesn’t match the person you are in real life.

The good news?

You can work towards fixing this mismatch in your spare time.


Write down your thoughts. What’s holding you back? Most of the time you’ll find out your biggest hurdle is the story you’re holding on to.

Figure this out and your path will become clearer. It won’t be free of obstacles but you’ll be able to see them better.

But don’t confuse this for abandoning your duties to follow the magic trail.

The smart option for Johnny would’ve been to take care of the fire and then climb trees looking for eggs.

Johnny didn’t have a choice to change tribes. Leaving the tribe meant death.

Not anymore.

If your narrative isn’t fitting the one around you, use your spare time to rewrite it.

Photo by  Enoch Appiah Jr.  on  Unsplash

Photo by Enoch Appiah Jr. on Unsplash


A simple (but hard) way to build confidence

You’ve been there before. You’re doing something new and it seems the people around you are all experts.

They all seem so confident in their abilities, yet you’re the opposite.

You don’t have the skills they do. Of course not. You just started.

If you want to become more confident in yourself, work on getting good at something.

It doesn’t matter what it is. Choose something and get better at it.

As your skill improves (it won’t be easy) your confidence in whatever you choose will grow.

‘But what’s the point in being confident in only one thing?’

The point of getting good at something isn’t necessarily the thing itself. It’s the process of being bad at something and working to improve at it. The process is what you’re after.

Once you’ve been through it before, you can apply the same principles to something else. Suddenly, the room full of experts becomes another opportunity to learn.

So you’re good at playing guitar?

Were you always like that? Or did you spend hundreds of hours being bad as a kid before you started to improve?

And if you’ve never had the feeling of being good at something, now’s the time to write down what it is you want to improve at. And then on the line below, make sure to remind yourself, ‘getting good at this will be hard, but it will be worth it.’

The role of film

When you're shooting with film, you have to be more careful about what you choose.

A short-film director told me about how he had to work 15-hours at the supermarket to purchase 4-minutes worth of film.

When he went to shoot, he made sure every minute mattered.

Questioning everything. 'Does this need to be here?'

I wanted to know what would happen if he took the wrong shot.

'What happens if you didn't get the shot you wanted?'

'Well, that was tough, but you couldn't do anything about it,' he said, 'I'd have to go back down to the supermarket, work 15 more hours and then try again.'

We kept talking about how far devices have come. You know the spiel. 'The device in your pocket can now do so many things that weren't possible.'

The roll of film got me thinking.

What would you do if every day you only had 16-hours of film?

8-hours for sleep and 16 to the do the other things.

When you're shooting with film, every frame counts. There aren't any retakes, but if you don't get the shot, you can always work towards getting the next one.

Perfect versus progress

Perfect is the target that keeps getting further away.

Imagine shooting an arrow at a target. From afar you hit the dead centre.

Then you get closer and you realise it was off by a few millimetres.

Should you still count it as a bullseye?

You shoot again. This time closer. Only one millimetre from dead centre.


You shoot a third time. Half a millimetre off.

How long would it keep going for?

The more you shoot, the closer you get. But each time you inspect the arrow, you find it to be off by a little bit.

You realise you're never going to hit a perfect bullseye. You could give up.


You could remind yourself of this every time you shoot and be relieved of the pressure. The pressure to be perfect.

Don't let perfectionism get in the way of progress.

Tears fell into the cup


We broke up the night before.

I thought all was fine. Then I looked out the window. The coffee machine was running. I looked out the window. Then looked down.

Tears filled my eyes. Then they fell into the cup.

We worked together for the next six months.

Day in day out. My heart skipped a beat every time I saw her.

I ignored her. It was easier that way. Easier to not say anything than to try and make conversation and let the pain come back.

The void was there. The void sucked. Like something inside of me was missing.

It wasn’t her fault. It’s easy to blame the other person. But it was no one's fault. No one's fault except my own. My fault.

Now and then I’d think of her. Her smile. Her laugh. Her cute little nose.

How could I fill this void?

Nothing could fill it. People said keep busy. I kept busy. Busy is just putting it off.

We met up for coffee.

Why did you want to meet up?

Because I wanted to thank you. Thank you for everything.

What do you mean?

Thank you for the time we had together.

Then I asked her what her goals were for the future.

What are your goals for the future?

Don’t do that.

Don’t do what?

Ask those questions.

We hugged and haven’t seen each other since. That was 18-months or so ago.

The void came back. What was missing?

Nothing could fill it. This was the part where people get addicted. Addicted to something to try and fill the void. Alcohol. Drugs. Whatever it was. Something had to fill it in.

You have to find a way to fill the void somehow.

I wrote down my thoughts. How could I be feeling like this? On the outside all shiny and smiley. A black hole inside. It’s tough being an actor. When the you everyone sees is different to the you inside. It’s exhausting.

Every thought went onto the paper.

I’m feeling bad because I miss her.

I want to feel important to someone. I invested all my love into her. No. That’s what it is.

I forgot to love myself.

I’m not missing her. I’m missing the version of me I was with her.

It’s not her fault. It’s my fault.

I looked in the mirror.

I love you. I love you. I love you.

Straight to my face whilst looking in my eyes.

I love you. I love you.

It felt weird. But the void was filling up. I could feel it. The black hole was collapsing on itself.

I love you.

10 times. Then I stopped. I’d figured it out. The void I was trying to fill was a lack of self-love. A lack of self-esteem. I’d invested my whole self-worth into someone else.

It’s not her fault. I’m responsible for it. I’m responsible for my self-worth.

People would say to stay busy. Don’t stay busy. Busy meant avoiding the problem. Not anymore. The problem had to be solved. If it wasn’t, I was done.

It still happens. The void needs to be filled every day. No one wants to talk about it. You lay in bed at night and listen to the voice in your head. It’s the most important conversation you have all day.

When the void was big all hope was lost. I spent too long trying to walk around the edges instead of jumping straight in.

It’s my fault. I’m responsible for my own self-worth.

Then I stopped avoiding the darkness and learned to dance with it. It’s always going to be there. I made it my friend.

I’m responsible for my own self-worth.

The darkness is weak to love. It’s why I would miss her. Her love fought it off.

Now it’s my love.

I love you. I love you.

I’m responsible for it.

I look in the mirror. Straight into my eyes. The left one. The right one. My mind is lost in thought but gets found in the words.

I love you.


You still control these things

My Godfather, Damo and I went to lunch at the LinkedIn New York City offices. He worked for LinkedIn two years ago and still had plenty of friends there.

I knew people loved him but I didn't realise how much.

'OMG Damien!'

'Damo, how are you!'

'Damien's back!!!'

These are the type of reactions we got walking through the offices.

It was like the second coming of Jesus. The whole floor was lit up.

Everyone welcomed us with open arms.

It was inspiring.

People forget specifics but they'll never forget how you make them feel.

Even if you work for someone else. You're still in charge of:

  • How much effort you put into your work

  • How you treat other people

  • How you treat yourself

  • Why you do what you do

When it comes to this list, you're your own boss.

PS if you've ever wondered what lunch at a global tech company is like, I shot some footage while we were there. And since the LinkedIn offices are in the Empire State Building, we checked out the view from the 86th floor too.