By Donna Ambler on 2 May 2018
I’ll admit I’m an overthinker. Worse still, I continue to beat myself up about things that have happened and decisions that I’ve made – I ponder for way too long.
I’ve always thought the verb ponder has a relaxing feel to it - it looks like wonder, but then you add the image of water lilies and sitting by a pond and it starts to make me think of wandering gently along the water’s edge, without a care in the world. Not at all like the busy mess that is usually going on in my head.
Ponder makes me think of the part of a yoga class when they ask you to just lie with your eyes closed and remove all random thoughts – like what you’re going to cook for dinner or pack in lunchboxes, or all the unfinished projects on your list.
The Oxford Dictionaries define ponder as: to think about (something) carefully, especially before making a decision or reaching a conclusion, as in ‘I pondered the question of what clothes to wear for the occasion’. This makes it sound like a calm, structured process – not a scramble of random thoughts.
I like the definition by Wordpandit of using your mental gears: ‘It’s like putting up a weighing machine in one’s mind, where instead of weighing physical quantities, we weight different thoughts and their pros and cons.’ That’s more like it – I can see all the cogs of the weighing machine moving backwards and forwards and interconnecting and that’s the busy pondering in my head most of the time.
The weighing scale analogy links back to the verb’s origins. It comes from the Old French word ponderer: to consider; and from Latin’s ponderare: to weigh.
One of the reasons my mind is in a scramble right now is that I’m planning for an overseas holiday when we won’t be taking our children. That means there is so much more to arrange before we leave. But I’m hoping that a change of scenery will be good for the soul and good for the mind. We’re going with very close friends and I know we will have fun and relax. So here’s to pondering at a much slower pace.
By Donna Ambler on 12 April 2018
I have lots of things on my To Do List this week; most still waiting to be completed. But I‘ve been really focused on one particular project so they’ve had to wait. That has meant I’ve been on top of that project and all the little things are stacking up – like writing a blog this week.
On reflection, that’s because I am usually too easily distracted and tend to do all the little things first, or at different times during the day. I think it goes back to the old saying ‘A stitch in time saves nine’. I’ve always thought it best to do the little things first–before they become big things. But sometimes you just need buckle down and get on with the biggest task, turn off all the distractions, and focus.
The Oxford Dictionary online has four very appropriate definitions for distract, which it describes as a late middle English word from the Latin for ‘drawn apart’.
- To prevent (someone) from concentrating on something.
- To divert (attention) from something.
- To divert one's attention from something unpleasant by doing something different or more pleasurable.
- To perplex and bewilder.
I really like that the last definition is described as archaic and the example given is equally archaic: ‘horror and doubt distract His troubl'd thoughts’
I’m not usually one to take be distracted by bright, shiny things, but I have to admit that I just hung up from calling the computer shop to book my desktop in for a service halfway through writing this blog. Sometimes, when you are not completely focused on the task at hand it’s easy to see something else as a priority. It might be a thought pattern (my brain chugs along at a million miles an hour most days, cluttered with thoughts about all the things I need to do); or that what you’re doing is either difficult or disinteresting.
I’m also a serial interrupter. I just have to tell the person talking to me what is on my mind at that point in time because I know that it will disappear if I wait my turn. Then the moment will be lost! I just can’t stack things up to wait their turn. I have to act in the moment. I know it’s rude and annoying, but it’s a habit I just can’t break – my through processes keep on distracting me from being completely focused on just listening.
I guess that’s why I multitask. I usually have a few things on the go at once and I appreciate that the current thinking is that multitasking is ineffective, but it’s a tough habit to break. I know other women who agree that housework tasks can take them half a day. You know how it goes – you start mopping the floor and then see a spill on the bench that needs cleaning up, but then you also notice that the dishwasher needs unpacking. Pretty quickly, you have three jobs on the go at once. That’s what being easily distracted does to you.
Our teenagers seem to be distracted all the time these days. It’s a luxury to have their undivided attention, without any screen distractions. We try to teach them the importance of making eye contact and actively listening when they are being spoken to, but some days I think we might be talking in Martian for the amount of attention they give us.
So now that I’m at the bottom of the page I can see a bright shiny object out of the corner or my eye that needs my attention. Best check back on that To Do list.
By Donna Ambler on 28 March 2018
In the midst of the biggest Australian cricket scandal since the underarm incident of 1981, the verb lead came to mind this week. It seems that Steve Smith, the man we thought had the qualities to hold a job some Australians believe is second in importance to the nation’s Prime Minister, does not have the qualities we thought he needed to lead our national team after all.
The man who was carving a spot for himself in national folklore that would put him above even the legendary Sir Donald Bradman had a spectacular fall from grace in South Africa last weekend. The only good thing he has done as a leader in the past week is to come out early to take the blame for the disastrous ball –tampering incident dubbed #tapegate.
Among the definitions for the verb to lead listed by the Collins Dictionary are: to show the way; to guide; to cause to act, feel, think, or behave in a certain way; induce; influence. Above all, leaders set an example. And when it comes to cricketers, a lot of the people they are setting that example for our junior players who admire them from afar.
In an opinion piece for the ABC online, associate professor of Sports Management at UTS Business School, Daryl Adair described the incident as the “moral equivalent of doping” and described it as a desperate attempt to be more competitive.
“How do coaches and parents explain to these impressionable youngsters that the captain of the Australian men's cricket team is a self-declared cheat and that he and colleagues persuaded the most junior player to break the rules in a desperate attempt to be more competitive?” he wrote.
Sponsors and fans have expressed disgust in Smith and other members of his so-called “leadership team”. So now Smith faces a troubled road ahead: he’s been stripped of the captaincy, suspended from the next test, fined and lost sponsors—before Cricket Australia has decided on other possible sanctions, which some suggest may include a one-year ban. Even if he were to regain the captaincy, it’s tough for a leader to recover and to regain trust after a situation that shows a lack of integrity.
Whichever way you look at it, Steve Smith let his team down. Worse than that, the Australian public, fans, sponsors and Cricket Australia feel incredibly let down.
So now we need somebody who knows how to lead and will lead with integrity, honesty and unwavering commitment. It’s rare that we find players of the calibre of wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist who famously walked off the field during a crucial World Cup semi-final 15 years ago when he knew he was out.
As American footballer and coach Vince Lombardi is regularly quoted:
“Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.”